Essential Ingredients: Cookbooks as History

Cover of Betty Crocker's 'A Picture Cookbook' from 1961
Thompson Library
Thompson Gallery (Room 125)
1858 Neil Avenue Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1286

August 20, 2024 - January 5, 2025
Exhibit Hours: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday - Friday, 10:00am-6:00pm | Saturday and Sunday, 11:00am-5:00pm
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Cookbooks are everywhere. Many people own at least one. You find them in bookshops and thrift stores. They are frequently given as gifts and passed down through generations. Yet most of us think of them as just collections of recipes, unaware of what else they can reveal.

Drawing from the Rare Books & Manuscripts Library’s collection of nearly 10,000 volumes, this exhibit celebrates more than 200 years of American cookbooks and their unique ability to offer windows into cultures and histories. Essential Ingredients explores cookbooks as a lens for understanding many aspects of the past and present, including social movements, global foodways, local communities, international crises, technological advancements, and personal stories. 

Additional Programming


Exhibition Reception and conversation with Chef Avishar Barua

  • Tuesday, August 27, 4pm - 6pm: Thompson Library Gallery (Room 125)
    Join us in celebration of Essential Ingredients: Cookbooks as History. The event will include a curator-led tour of the exhibit followed by a conversation with Chef Avishar Barua.

    This event is free and open to the public, however, we ask that you please RSVP at the link provided here by August 20. Refreshments will be provided.

Make Your Own Cookbook Workshop

  • Wednesday, October 16, 5pm - 6:30pm: Thompson Library (Room 150 A and B)
    During this workshop, you will make your own personalized cookbook by exploring, selecting and compiling historical recipes from the Rare Books & Manuscripts Library’s cookbook collections.

    This event is free and open to the lublic, however, we ask that you please RSVP at the link provided here by October 9. Pizza and refreshments will be provided.

Photo of Jolie Braun Jolie Braun
Curator Modrn Lit & Manuscript

Photo of Elizabeth Hewitt  Elizabeth Hewitt
Professor and Chair
OSU Department of English