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Syracuse University Libraries

Cookbooks at SU Libraries

About the Cookbook Collection

The cookbook collection consists of thousands of items and is developed annually through the Alex G. Nason wellness fund and the Marion Francis Samuel Glaser fund (designated for Home Economics).

The Libraries’ cookbook collection supports academic programs and courses in health, food studies, history, anthropology, geography, literature and more. The collection is used for exploring social history and culture, international cuisines and diets, practicing cooking and baking techniques, revising recipes for community food distribution or modifying nutritional values, understanding people’s relationship to food and how it can be used to gather and build community, as well as restore and celebrate our connection to the land.

Over the years, Syracuse University Library has benefited from many significant donations in the areas of Health and Wellness, including some large and unique collections of cookbooks.

  • 1980s: the cookbook collection was greatly enriched by a generous donation of several hundred cookbooks from Anna Fisher Rush, a 1943 SU graduate.  Ms. Rush was the food editor of McCall's Magazine in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • 1993: another interesting collection of mostly ethnic cookbooks was donated to the library by the Small Press Center in New York City. 
  • 2011: the library was fortunate to be the recipent of a cookbook collection donation from Joan Green, who resides in Cazenovia.  The collection is approxmately 900 volumes.  Many of these cookbooks focus on Chinese and Italian cooking.
  • 2012: a gift of more than 100 cookbooks was received from Ms. C. Jeanette LaClair.  Ms. LaClair graduated from SU, earning a BS in Home Economics and a MS in Education. Also in 2012, the library added over 400 cookbooks from the collection of Lee Conant.
  • 2022: the cookbook collection received a fresh infusion from Gretel Pelto, an internationally recognized scholar in nutrition and public health.
  • The largest single contribution to the library to date is the collection of Kay Shaw Nelson, a 1948 SU graduate.  Mrs. Nelson is the author of numerous cookbooks and articles, as well as a newspaper columnist and culinary historian.  She spent many years abroad working as an intelligence officer for the CIA and amassed a large collection of unique cookbooks and menus from countries in which she lived and worked.  The menu collection and the more rare materials are housed at the Special Collections Research Center, but the rest is readily available for general use.  There are over 1000 volumes in this collection.