Berea College Library Offering ‘Tour’ of 500 Historic, Regional Cookbooks

Berea College Library Offering ‘Tour’ of 500 Historic, Regional Cookbooks

Extensive collection is part of the library’s Special Collections and Archives

Photograph of a Page from a Vintage Recipe Book for Turkey

If you’re looking for that special recipe for the upcoming holidays—maybe an “Emergency Cake” from the 1922 Chestnut Street Christian Church Cook Book or a “Very Plain Venison Pie” from Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book published in 1857—Berea College’s Special Collections and Archives (SCA) has the cookbook collection to peruse.
Beginning the first Friday in November, patrons of Berea College’s Hutchins Library can “tour” selections from the 500 historic, regional cookbooks housed in the library’s SCA. Participants will receive free blank recipe cards for recording their favorite recipes while learning more about cooking styles from as early as the 1700s.
The weekly tours are part of the library’s “Friday Finds” programs, led by Tim Binkley, an assistant professor of library science who heads SCA.
“We have all seen cookbooks, but not everyone has had the opportunity to see cookbooks as old as some of the ones we have right here in the Hutchins Library,” Binkley said. “It is fascinating to flip through old cookbooks that have been donated to the library, including titles from the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, to find variations of familiar recipes and unusual recipes as well. Some of these publications originated from social clubs, churches and families. The variety of recipes in our collection is vast, and we are looking forward to sharing them with the public and learning more about cooking through the years.”
Binkley will encourage all participants to take home recipes to make and share on social media.
“My hope is that these tours will open the minds of participants not only to different ways of cooking, but also to the vast resources we have in the library’s Special Collections and Archives,” Binkley said. “Our library resources are tremendous, and I encourage students and the community to learn more about historic research materials that are available right here in their back yards.”
“Friday Finds” cookbook tours will be held from 2-3 p.m. on Nov. 5, Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 at the Hutchins Library, located at 100 Campus Drive in Berea. To register, visit and look for “Hutchins Library.” Each tour is limited to 12 participants. Attendees must provide proof of COVID vaccination to participate, and masks are required to be worn at all times.
SCA offers Berea College students and the public access to one-of-a-kind materials, including historic campus photographs, oral history recordings, traditional regional music and letters from Berea’s founders, early faculty and students. Special Collections and Archives supports the educational mission of Berea College by building and maintaining an extensive collection of primary-source materials documenting the history of Berea College, the Southern Appalachian region and the Berea community.
The SCA reading room is available by appointment by visiting For more information on SCA, visit