How to Read a Cookbook: Deciphering the Life of Malinda Russell

“How to Read a Cookbook: Deciphering the Life of Malinda Russell,” is an interactive exploration of  Russell’s, A Domestic Cookbook.  Published in 1866, the cookbook reveals the complexity of the roots of American cooking. A Domestic Cookbook caught culinary scholars’ attention after resurfacing in a cookbook collector’s home in California in 2000. It was instrumental in revealing the importance of African American women’s culinary contributions to American cuisine. At that moment, Russell’s book replaced Abby Fisher’s, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking (1881), as the first cookbook to be published by an African American woman in the United States. As an interactive cookbook, this project encourages visitors to explore the recipes in whatever order they wish. By “clicking” on ingredients, it is possible to learn more about nineteenth century foodways and cooking methods. 

Dani Willcutt

2019-2020 CHI Grad Fellow Cohort

PhD Candidate, Department of History