Skip to Main Content
The University of Massachusetts Amherst


A guide to selected genealogical resources at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

Library Resources

Beatrice McIntosh Cookery Collection

The Special Collections and University Archives of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library houses an ever-growing collection of more than 8,000 community cookbooks as well as books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the history of cookery in New England. Although most of the community cookbooks originated in the Western Massachusetts counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire, the collection includes items from Central and Eastern Massachusetts as well as cookbooks from other states and some foreign countries. Choice Recipes (Ladies of Baldwinville, 1886) and Tried and True (Ladies of the Turners Falls Unitarian Society, 1888) are among the oldest cookbooks in the collection.

Usually volunteers from churches, women's clubs, social service organizations, and schools compiled these frequently spiral-bound archives of local history. Since nearly all of these cookbooks contain the recipe contributors' names (and sometimes signatures), they essentially provide an organization's membership roster.

The charity cookbooks or "charities" offer insight into the daily lives of women and families of a particular era. They also afford an examination of the communities' ethnicity, social networks, and food trends. Some volumes include advertisements for local businesses, helpful hints, and recipes for regional specialties. The Beatrice McIntosh Coookery Collection contains contributions from Canadian, French, Jewish, Latin American, Polish, Russian, and other ethnic groups and nationalities.

Although the W.E.B. Du Bois Library Catalog does not list these cookery items individually, more than 5,000 appear on the following Special Collections and University Archives website: