Feeding America: The Historic American (Public Domain) Cookbook Project

Candy Recipes

What could possibly be better than one really good Public Domain Cookbook?

How 'bout 76 of 'em?!

Ever considered creating your very own Public Domain Cookbook publishing empire?

If so, here's a very good place to start...

Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project

This incredible collection of vintage cookbooks is well worth taking note of especially if you need content for anything you may be doing in food and cooking related niches.

A little from the site itself by way of introduction...

The Feeding America project has created an online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The digital archive includes page images of 76 cookbooks from the MSU Library's collection as well as searchable full-text transcriptions. This site also features a glossary of cookery terms and multidimensional images of antique cooking implements from the collections of the MSU Museum.

The Feeding America online collection hopes to highlight an important part of America's cultural heritage for teachers, students, researchers investigating American social history, professional chefs, and lifelong learners of all ages.

First, I recommend clicking on the image of the monitor below to watch a short video that highlights this collection of vintage American cookbooks and gives some interesting bits of cookbook history (video requires Real Player to play http://www.real.com/player/)...

Secondly, I recommend diving right into this amazing collection of Public Domain Cookbooks by simply browsing the entire collection using the link below...

Click here to browse the entire Feeding America collection...

Direct links to just a few of my personal favorites (click on any of the links below to be taken directly to the specific book)...


Chinese-Japanese Cook Book
By Sara Bosse And Onoto Watanna [c1914].

The Ideal Bartender
By Tom Bullock [c1917].

What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking
By Abby Fisher, 1881.

Cooking In Old Créole Days
By Célestine Eustis, 1904.

This site is very friendly to Public Domain Treasure Hunters...

"Digital images of the pages of each cookbook are available as well as full-text transcriptions and the ability to search within the books, across the collection, in order to find specific information."

Reproductions of Vintage Cookbooks are hot,hot, hot when positioned and marketed correctly and of course you could always easily create all new products by combining some the best content you'll find in this collection...

Click here for 76 vintage turn-of-the-century Public Domain Cookbooks...

Bon Appetite!

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  1. Marg says

    Hey Logan,

    I’m really interested in the vintage cookbook idea. You say in the piece you say: Reproductions of Vintage Cookbooks are hot,hot, hot when positioned and marketed correctly and of course you could always easily create all new products by combining some the best content you’ll find in this collection…

    So my question is how do you position and market them correctly? That would be really valuable information. Can you give us a bit more information on that?

  2. Rick says

    Logan – thanks a lot for the source of these 76 PD Cookbooks.

    Of the Vintage Cookbooks I skimmed through, they have some very interesting info in them besides just recipes.

    However, what really disappoints me is all the books I looked through in PDF format … it seems that the people who scanned the books “purposely” manipulated the interior graphics of the books.

    The graphics are of very poor quality (at least in the books I looked through) while the scanned TEXT is of good quality.

    The only reason I can think of why they purposely messed up the graphics is because they don’t really want people to use and re-sell their public domain works.

    After all, who wants to publish a PD Cookbook with really bad graphics in it. I’m sure they did this to discourage people from using their works.

    What a shame. Other than the pictures/graphics being terrible, the reading is VERY interesting.


  3. says

    Hi Logan,

    I absolutely loved this post! Very interesting and timely. Just about to start a recipe collection as an adjunct to my nice site.


  4. says

    Hi Rick,

    You’re absolutely correct ~ the scans aren’t perfect, some are definitely better than others. All are true page by scans but some have been left alone while others have been “white-washed” just like Google Books. This is done to compress file size more then anything.

    But, I want to make sure you understand the point behind my sharing this site with you…

    We have never, ever recommended downloading scans of Public Domain books and reselling them as is. Google Books, Archive.org, and thousands of other sites just like this one are wonderful repositories of Public Domain books but it’s always been our stance that downloading and selling the scans as they are provided by these sites is not the ideal way to go.

    Sure, you can do it but that’s not the way we operate (although lots of people do).

    Instead, it’s we prefer to create much higher quality products by either…

    1) extracting the content from the scans and using this content to create all new products (or clean, nicely formatted facsimiles)

    2) now that we know the title exists in the first place we can usually easily source our own copy (on a site like abebooks.com), purchase the book (cheaply), and scan it ourselves to produce exact reproductions if the market demands it.

    It always concerns me that a lot of people will take these pdf’s as provided like a site like this and resell them as is without adding any additional value to their customers but of course people are free to do what they want.

    In our minds these are not “ready-to-go” products, they are merely a starting point for creating our own wonderful new products.

    Thanks Rick!


  5. says

    Hi Marg,

    Thanks for this great question. I’ll answer this question in this week’s newsletter, promise.

    Thanks Marg!

  6. Adrianne says


    You and Deb always find great graphics for your ebooks & newsletters. Even the “Chocolate” image for the cookbook grabbed my attention.

    Please share in a future news release how we can find these wonderful images or do the graphics.



  7. Adrianne says

    Well I see where this image came from, didn’t check it before mentioning it ….

    but you always have wonderful graphics and I would love some pointers on that as a suggestion.


  8. says

    Hi Logan,

    My hand is raised also! I would LOVE to have your expert opinion on positioning and marketing vintage cookbooks.

    I’ve long been attracted to old cookbooks. In addition to a modest collection of the real thing, I have a large folder of titles that are anxiously anticipating a new life. I’m just not sure how to proceed.

    I look forward to your insight.

    Thanks Logan!

    PS- I’m a HUGE fan of both this blog and the Public Domain Treasure Hunter’s Survival Kit!
    .-= Jacqui´s last blog ..Natural Beauty Tips For a Glowing, Radiant Complexion =-.

  9. says

    Hi Adrianne,

    That Photoshop is a wonderful thing! ; )

    That’s really all I do personally ~ as I’m surfing around hunting for treasures I’ll run into Public Domain graphics I love so I immediately download them for later use. When I’m ready I just pop them into Photoshop and touch them up a bit if need be.

    the “Chocolate” image for the cookbook – I just cleaned up the junk around the edges a little and resized it to fit my needs.

    Time spent learning to use Photoshop has always paid off.

    I’m a novice with it myself but I love to learn so it works!

  10. kim says

    Been listening and absorbing a lot of webinar in the last week and why is it they make it all sound so complicated? You just cut to the chase and all that is on your site is what the webinar went through but you do this in such a simple honest and direct way.

    Many thanks


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