Skip to Main Content

American Food Studies: History & Culture

What is Foodways?

When trying to understand the history and culture of a group, the food they eat can be telling.  What we eat is imbued with the story of who we are, where we came from, who we conquered, and who conquered us.  Foodways refers to the intersection of food in culture, tradition, and history. 

Suggested Subject Heading

Below are some common subject headings you can use to search in UNC library's catalog. Searches on most of these subject headings can be narrowed by specifying a geographic subdivision, in the form of the name of a town, region, or country: e.g. Dinners and dining -- France. It can also be useful to limit searches by era, e.g. “Dinners and dining -- France -- History -- 19th century” or “Food prices -- England -- Early works to 1800”.
Canning and preserving
Dinners and dining
Drinking of alcoholic beverages
Food - History
Food - Religious aspects
Food - Social aspects
Food consumption
Food in art
Food in literature
Food in motion pictures
Food preferences
Grocery shopping
Hunting and gathering societies
Jews - Dietary laws
Wine and wine making

Food Blogs

Food in the Historical Record

Cookbooks in the North Carolina Collection - explore some of the many historical cookbooks the North Carolina Collection holds

What's on the Menu? - The New York Public Library's archive of over 45,000 restaurant menus dating back to the 1840s.

Vintage Cookbooks - A collection of downloadable cookbooks from and Google Books.

Feeding America - 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.

Relevant Databases

Related Websites

The Food Museum - The museum research, collect, preserve, exhibit and explain the history and social significance of the world's most important foods, and bring artifacts and programs to audiences of all ages.

The New York Times Food Section - Find food and wine news and reviews on restaurants, recipes, cooking, desserts, chefs, fine dining, cuisine, and New York restaurants.

NPR's The Salt - The Salt is a blog from the NPR Science Desk about what we eat and why we eat it. 

Southern Foodways Alliance - The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.

Four Pounds Flour - a blog focused on 18th and 19th century American cuisine.

The Food Timeline - This source places hundreds of foods on a historical timeline. Created by a reference librarian, Food timeline also includes the histories, descriptions, and historical recipes of the foods included.