Historical Cookbooks in the Study of American Religion


  • Emily Bailey University of Pittsburgh




cookbook, Victorian, recipe, 19th century, nineteenth century, domesticity


This study examines late Victorian era Protestant church community cookbooks as moral and cultural guides written by women for women (gendered texts), and examines the domestic roles and Christian practices of women in the years before and after the turn of the twentieth century. For this project I used a sample of eleven Protestant community cookbooks published from 1881 to 1913 to serve as case studies, illuminating the late Victorian period through the words and recipes of the women who wrote them. As domestic guides, the cookbooks employ paratexts, presenting recipes for food and life in broader terms. Artwork and advertisements from the texts offer additional information about the connections between gender, domesticity and religion during the era.

Author Biography

Emily Bailey, University of Pittsburgh

Emily Bailey is a PhD student in the department of Religious Studies, University of Pittsburgh, USA.


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Bower, Anne, ed. 1997. Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Cogan, Frances B. 1989. All-American Girl: The Ideal of Real Womanhood in Mid-Nineteenth- Century America. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

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Grubb, Alan. 1991. “House and Home in the Victorian South: The Cookbook as Guide.” In In Joy and in Sorrow: Women, Family and Marriage in the Victorian South 1830–1900, edited by Carol Bleser, 154–175. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Longone, Janice Bluestein. 1997. “‘Tried Receipts’: An Overview of America’s Charitable Cookbooks.” In Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories, edited by Anne Bower, 17–28. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

McDannell, Colleen. 1994. The Christian Home in Victorian America, 1840-1900. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

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“Victorianism.” Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century. Farmington, Mich.: Gale, 2000.

Ladies Aid Society of the Congregational Church, Howard City, Michigan. 1913. Twentieth Century Cook Book: A Feast of Good Things: A Careful Compilation of Tried and Approved Recipes. Angola, Indiana: Lillian V. Wyrick. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/MMM/JA/11/b/JA11b006.pdf.

Ladies’ Aid Society of the Congregational Church, Ludington, Michigan. 1891. The Ludington Cook Book. Ludington, Michigan: The Democrat Book and Job Print. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/MMM/JA/11/a/JA11a008.pdf

Ladies’ Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1887. The Jubilee Cook Book: A Collection of Tested Recipes. Ann Arbor: The Courier Steam Printing House. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/MMM/JA/11/a/JA11a004.pdf.

Ladies of Pilgrim Congregational Church. 1901. The Pilgrim Cook Book, 2nd Ed. Lansing, Michigan. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/MMM/JA/11/b/JA11b024.pdf .

Ladies of St. Luke’s Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan. 1906. New Crumbs of Comfort. Kalamazoo: Kalamazoo Publishing Co., Printers. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/MMM/JA/11/b/JA11b004.pdf.

The Epworth League of the First M. E. Church of Barnesville, Ohio. 1907. Tried and Approved Recipes. Cincinnati: Monfort & Co.. http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/digital_books/pdf/TX715.F56_1907.pdf.

Women of Grace Church, Ishpeming, Michigan. 1905. Superior Cook Book. Ishpeming, Michigan: The Peninsular Record Publishing Co., Ltd.. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/MMM/JA/11/b/JA11b003.pdf.



How to Cite

Bailey, E. (2012). Historical Cookbooks in the Study of American Religion. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 41(4), 24–33. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsor.v41i4.24