As Thanksgiving approaches, you may be looking for a new recipe to try out. We have a few cookbooks in our collections. Perhaps some useful tips from 1828 on boiling or roasting turkey?

Domestic Cookery
“Against the time when it shall be ready, prepare a fine oyster-sauce, very thick of the butter, and pour over it.”

More about this book in our catalog. A fully digitized version at HathiTrust.
More about this book in our catalog. A slightly earlier edition, fully digitized at HathiTrust.

As we have mentioned recently (here and here), we are in the process of cataloging the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. There have been a couple of modern cookbooks in the collection, but the most interesting one to me is this little book from Alaska in 1952:

Schools, churches, and other organizations throughout the country often create compilation recipe books for fund raising, and have done so since the end of the Civil War. Our neighbors at UMass Amherst Special Collections have a fantastic collection of New England community cookbooks, part of their Beatrice McIntosh Cookery Collection. Every region and time period has its own culinary tendencies, of course, but the recipes compiled by the students of the Shishmaref Day School seem much more exotic than my grandmother’s peanut butter fudge recipe.

When I was researching Shishmaref, Alaska, I discovered that a book had been published just last month with a great connection to this little cookbook. Photographer Brian Adams’ first book, titled I Am Alaskan includes a section of portraits he took in Shishmaref in 2010, so I immediately ordered a copy for the library. As he says in his blog:

A couple of months ago while on a assignment, Ashley and I came across the Eskimo Cook Book. The book was made in 1951 by children of the Shishmaref Day School in Shishmaref, AK. The book inspired us to go to Shishmaref to interview and photograph the children featured in the book–now elders in their late 60s and early 70s–as well as work with the school to retrieve recipes from the current students to create a new multi-generational cookbook.

I haven’t found any indication that a new cookbook has been published, but the portraits and landscapes from Shishmaref are wonderful–you can see them all here, on his website, including some that didn’t make it into the book. Adams is of Inupiat descent, so his book was a perfect fit with our plans to continue collecting Native American authors (and photographers and illustrators).

I Am Alaskan

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