I recently discovered HathiTrust, the partnership of over sixty libraries (mostly American) “committed to the long-term curation and availability of the public record.” Collectively, the partners have digitized over 10.2 million volumes, many of which are available in full view on HathiTrust’s website.
A very cool feature is that anyone can create their own collections based on customized search criteria, and then save and share these collections with everyone else.
A look through these collections offers a fascinating view of site users’ interests: for example, someone has compiled an 18th-century cookbooks collection with titles like The Accomplished Housekeeper and Universal Cook: Containing All of the Various Branches of Cookery, Directions for Roasting, Boiling, and Made Dishes, Also for Frying, Broiling, Stewing, Mincing, and Hashing. The Different Methods of Dressing Poultry, Game, and Fish, and of Preparing Soups, Gravies, Cullices, and Broths, to Dress Roots and Vegetables, and to Make All Sorts of Pies, Puddings, Pancakes, and Fritters; Cakes, Puffs, and Biscuits, Cheesecakes, Tarts, and Custards; Creams and Jams; Blanc Mange; Flummery, Jellies, and Syllabubs. The Various Articles in Candying, Drying, Preserves, and Pickling; the Preparation of Hams, Tongues, Bacon, and of Made Wines and Cordial Waters. Directions for Carving. With a Catalogue of the Various Articles in Season Every Month in the Year. (Whew! Clearly the marketers were not in charge when the title was chosen for this publication.)
Written by T. Williams “and the Principal Cooks at the London and Crown and Anchor Taverns” and published in 1797, The Accomplished Housekeeper is available in full view, stains, wear and tear, and all. From a stamp on the inside cover it appears to have entered the New York Public Library system in 1915. Inside is an absolutely fascinating guide to cookery techniques like roasting neck of mutton, boiling woodcocks or snipes, and doing up a breast of veal “in hodge podge” (a sauce that does, indeed, appear to be a hodge podge of butter, lettuce, spices, onions, sweet herbs, and other vegetables).
While I will never hold this book in my hand, this is the next best thing.