History of the Culinary Collection
of the Nadine Vorhoff Library


Women's studies scholars, culinary historians and all those interested in cooking and good food will enjoy visiting the Cookbook Collection at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women. Because cooking and eating with others are fundamental human rituals, cookbooks contain records of tradition and change within human cultures. In addition, since women have traditionally been responsible for preparing and serving food, cookbooks frequently disclose accounts of women's domestic experiences as well as recipes for their culinary creations.

The Cookbook Collection is an extraordinary addition to the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women. Two thousand volumes now line the walls of the Nadine Vorhoff Library. These books are primarily composed of two contributions: the Stella Adams Collection, donated in honor of Terry and Philip Adams, and the Courtney Werner Collection, donated by his family.

The Stella Adams Collection dates from the second half of the twentieth century. These books include a great variety of Southern, Louisiana, New Orleans and women's groups cookbooks. An unusual example from this Collection is Bon Melange (1976), a homemade book from the Amigas Club of Thibodaux, featuring original recipes for Louisiana specialties. A variety of reference and "all-purpose" cookbooks includes such classics as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1965), the Joy of Cooking (1964), and the Larousse Gastronomique (1961). Also represented are three decades of cookbooks published by popular magazines, including entire series from Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living, and Time-Life.

The Courtney Werner Collection dates primarily from the first half of the twentieth century. This Collection contains many specialty books, featuring such topics as cooking with herbs and spices and the varieties of cooking particular to different regions in the United States. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the large selection of international cookbooks, many of which are published in their original languages. Polish, Jewish, Italian, Scandinavian, Caribbean, Indian, Chinese and French are samples of the cultures represented.

The two Collections combined embrace a multitude of books written by celebrated gourmets such as Julia Child, Nika Standen Hazelton, Craig Claiborne and Louis Diat. Prose books discussing nutrition, entertaining and various other culinary topics are also numerous. These include Brillat-Savarin's classic, The Physiology of Taste (1948) and a compilation of M.F.K. Fisher's best-known works, The Art of Eating (1954). Many of the books published within the past three decades feature microwave and quick-cooking methods for the busy working woman. There are also several interesting vegetarian and seasonal cookbooks, as well as books discussing wines and cooking with spirits.

Return to Culinary Collection home page.
Return to NCCROW home page.