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Food History: archival research
The work of farmers and scientists, consumers and producers, writers and historians come together in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center.
We've created an Oregon Food & Farming guide, which we hope will be a rich resource for your food and farming research projects. The guide highlights archival and manuscript collections, rare and main stacks library books or journals, and offers links to our online collections. We offer tips for keywords and search strategies for each section, as well as information about how the content in specific archival collections will meet your needs.
Though it is a rich guide, it does not contain every collection or possible avenue for exploration. Follow your own leads - we hope it is a good place to start!
Food History Research: Library
You can search the online databases by subject: use the filter by subject to see databases specifically related to the broad category of “food."
- HST & HSTS
- Sociology, Anthropology, Ethnic Studies
- Agriculture, Food and Nutrition
- Newspapers, Statistical Resources
Need some examples?
- Food and Foodways: refereed, interdisciplinary, and international journal devoted to publishing original scholarly articles on the history and culture of human nourishment. By reflecting on the role food plays in human relations, this unique journal explores the powerful but often subtle ways in which food has shaped, and shapes, our lives socially, economically, politically, mentally, nutritionally, and morally. Because food is a pervasive social phenomenon, it cannot be approached by any one discipline. We encourage articles that engage dialogue, debate, and exchange across disciplines. Food and Foodways publishes work by anthropologists, biologists, economists, ethnobotanists, historians, literary critics, nutritionists, psychologists, sociologists, and others who use food as a lens of analysis. We also seek review essays or short topical pieces that are provocative and problematic in nature.
- Food, Culture, and Society: An international peer-reviewed publication dedicated to exploring the complex relationships among food, culture, and society from numerous disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as in the world of food beyond the academy. It brings to bear the highest standards of research and scholarship on all aspects of food studies and encourages vigorous debate on a wide range of topics.
- Food Science and Technology Abstracts: Includes citations and abstracts of journal articles, research papers, conference proceedings and other materials in all areas of food science, including food engineering, microbiology, packaging, technology and toxicology. Citations to materials on food laws, regulations and patents are also included.
Sometimes you’ll find databases of e-journals with articles, but other times you’ll find source citations for books that have published primary sources (example list = “Countries and Their Cultures” and reproductions = “Family in Society: Social Issues Primary Sources Collection, 2007”) or encyclopedias (example “Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics” search for “food technology and science” *note bibliography and “View other articles linked to these index terms” at the bottom of the article or “Encyclopedia of World Cultures” divided by name of culture).
Food History Research: Online
Want to do some reearching on your own? You'll find fabulous examples in cookbook and menu archives online, as well as many in Google books.
- There are many web sites dedicated to the history of food.
- Other, more anecdotal sites are also only a click away.
- What do you know about the history of Ceviche? Or the tale behind Frogmore Stew? Or the story of England’s tea time? The History and Legends of Favorite Foods site will give you a few details—and the opportunity to share your own bits of food wisdom.
- Have you ever thought about what foods the Vikings ate? How Thomas Jefferson made his ice cream? What the pioneers cooked along the Oregon Trail? Or who invented the potato chip…and why? Take a trip to the Food Timeline site! As the site says, “food history presents a fascinating buffet of popular lore and contradictory facts.” Explore and learn how the foods we eat have changed and evolved to their present version.
- You can also click around to learn more about the Slow Food Movement and the US Ark of Taste.
- The Michigan State University Library and the MSU Museum have partnered to create an online collection of some of the most influential and important American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century called Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project. Digital images of the pages of each cookbook are available as well as full-text transcriptions and the ability to search within the books, across the collection, in order to find specific information.
Food in Corvallis
But what if you want more about Corvallis and OSU? Yes, there are even more resources to learn more about our community!