American Culinary History Center Opens at University of Michigan

A donated collection of artifacts and literature on gastronomy has found a home and a showcase in the Longone Center for American Culinary Research, at the University of Michigan's William Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Mich. Preparing to celebrate its dedication and grand opening this May, the Center is already building a reputation as a premier resource for the study of culinary Americana, according to the University.

The Center consists of the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive augmented by the rich Americana holdings of the Clements Library, catalogued for their culinary content. Daniel and Janice Longone of Ann Arbor donated thousands of items chronicling the history of food in America before the mid-20th century. The collection includes more than 100 manuscript cookbooks dating from 1698, menus, diaries and advertisements, catalogs, magazines and graphics.

The Longone Center's website points out that the Archive is notable for containing not only most of the essential “high spots” in the field, but strong holdings for related areas of interdisciplinary study including:
  • Homemaking, decorum, and etiquette
  • Immigrant and ethnic voices
  • Children’s cookery
  • Regional foodways
  • The cooking school movement
  • The “great ladies” of 19th-century American cookery
  • Health, diet, and vegetarianism
  • Bakers and baking
  • Food and the media
  • Charitable cookbooks
  • Appliances and equipment
  • Chefs, restaurants, hotels, and menus
  • Industrialization of food production
  • The history of food advertising
  • War cookery (at home and at the front)
  • Beverages including wine, beer, spirits, coffee, tea, and chocolate
  • Markets and grocers
  • Food and the arts.
The appointment at the Clements Library of a Curator of American Culinary History, the first anywhere, was an important step towards academic recognition of the field. Equally important is a commitment to making the Center permanent, with endowments for a full-time curator, symposia, lectures and exhibitions, and funds for acquisition.

The Center plans a series of biennial symposia on American Culinary History. The first will be in May 2005; the second (May 2007) will focus on Regional and Ethnic Culinary Americana; the third (May 2009) on Dining Out in America: Chefs and Restaurants. Additional exhibitions and lectures are planned. For more information, visit the Longone Center website at www.clements.umich.edu/culinary/about.html.

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