The Joy of Cookbooks

Need dinner ideas? Looking for something to bring to a holiday potluck? Want to explore the history of your favorite food? The Internet Archive’s Cookbook and Home Economics Collection holds more than 12,000 vintage recipe books–showcasing a fascinating slice of everyday life across decades of cooking. Here are a few of our favorites! 

The White House Cook Book

First published in 1887 and reissued in 1913, this compendium was created by author F. L. Gillette and former White House Steward Hugo Ziemann. With not only a variety of recipes but also menus, cooking techniques, etiquette advice, and household cleanliness tips, this bestselling cookbook promised to bring the grandeur of the White House to ordinary homes across the United States.



Five Cent Meals

On the other end of the spectrum is this collection of thrifty recipes for those trying to stretch out their budgets. Back when five cents was a meaningful (though not large) amount of money, this cookbook provided families with menus, recipes, and advice for turning low-cost staples–like dried fruits, canned vegetables, beans, and flours–into delicious and nutritious meals.



The Federation Cook Book

Aside from serving as kitchen aids, cookbooks were often distributed as a perk of membership in clubs, associations, and other civic associations–especially those geared towards women. This 1910 cookbook was assembled by the California branch of the National Federation of Afro-American Women (also known as the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs).



Nelson’s Pop Corn Recipes

Cookbooks also often served as a marketing tool for food companies–such as this collection of recipes released by a popcorn maker. Some of these recipes are extremely… creative, including popcorn stuffing, popcorn canapés, and even popcorn omelets. Ever wanted to turn popcorn into a vegetarian meatloaf substitute? Now you can!


Whether you’re looking for more terrible old recipes or just some useful cooking tips, our cookbook collection contains a lot of hidden gems. Bon appétit!

-The Internet Archive Team