Preserving Flavor and Tradition: The Hidden Gems of Kenton County’s Local History Cookbook Collection

Food plays an important role in history and genealogy. It brings back memories – gatherings around a table with family, standing by your grandparents or parents as they pass down a favorite recipe (including “’bout this much” as a form of measuring). It may even be the first time you tasted a local cuisine. Cooking can be a connection to the past. During the Great Depression, for example, certain foods were scarce, and recipes became more creative. Even something as familiar in Kentucky as burgoo is influenced by regional and familiar preferences. Churches, schools, and other organizations collect their favorites and publish them, selling them to fundraise. This adds to the legacy of a region, reflective of local culture and historical events.

The Kenton County Public Library Local History and Genealogy Department has a hidden gem in their cookbook collection. From the Kentucky Historical Society and the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky to the Kenton County Public Library itself, you can find traditional, modern, and all-time favorite recipes in this amazing collection. Most of these recipes are easy to cook, drawing on local preferences, and with budgeting in mind. Today, where a family of four in Kentucky spends on average $250 per week on groceries, that is welcome.

You can also find handwritten cookbooks and recipes located in GenKY, our digital database. A ledger or diary may have a brief note on what works best for cooking lamb, Great Aunt Freida’s recipe for lemon pie, or even that secret chicken casserole recipe someone swore they would go to their grave with.

Does your family have a collection of handwritten recipes? The Local History and Genealogy Department would be happy to include these in our own collection, sharing your family history and cuisine for all generations.

Written By Jessica Johnson, Library Associate, Local History and Genealogy Department 

The Hidden Gems of Kenton County's Local History Cookbook Collection

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