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Faculty Members to Make Online Presentation Sept. 22 on Community Cookbooks for Columbus-Lowndes Library

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 16:36pm | By: David Tisdale

Two University of Southern Mississippi (USM) professors will make an online presentation for the Columbus-Lowndes County (Mississippi) Public Library (CLPL) on the university’s growing Culinary Collection, and how its cookbooks reveal community history through shared and celebrated food traditions and recipes.

Jennifer Brannock, professor and curator of Rare Books & Mississippiana with University Libraries, and Dr. Andrew Haley, professor of cultural history and an award-winning food historian, will present "Communities, Cookbooks, and Columbus: Local History Comes to Dinner" Tuesday, Sept. 22 at noon. This virtual event is also supported by the Society of Mississippi Archivists program of speakers and consultants.

“Professor Brannock and I are excited to be talking to folks from Lowndes County,” Dr. Haley said. “The culinary collection at Southern Miss is a community project. Most of the collection has been donated by Mississippians, and as the collection grows we are using it to tell the stories of Mississippians past and present.

“And, for me, this presentation is also a chance to say ‘thank you.’ My research on community cookbooks began over five years ago after I visited Columbus and gave a talk on Mississippi cuisines. The stories I heard from the audience that day have shaped the research I have done since.”

The Culinary Collection at USM was started six years ago by Brannock and Dr. Haley. They began with 15 cookbooks and today, mostly through donations that include those from Columbus and Lowndes County residents, the collection houses nearly 8,000 and makes it the largest collection of Mississippi cookbooks in the world. The heart of the collection is more than 200 historical community cookbooks from throughout Mississippi published between the 1890s and 1970, but it also holds more than 1,000 contemporary community cookbooks, hundreds of cookbooks from Mississippi and surrounding states, manuscript collections from food writers, and a selection of general cookbooks, many written by famous and influential American cookbook authors. The collection is a valuable resource for historians as well as scholars who study nutrition and hospitality.

Community outreach like the upcoming presentation for the CLPL is an integral part of Dr. Haley and Brannock’s work with the collection. “With Andrew’s expertise in culinary history and University Libraries housing the largest collection of Mississippi cookbooks anywhere, we are poised to not only talk about the food of the state, but also the communities that created these cookbooks,” Brannock said.

“Communities, Cookbooks, and Columbus” will be presented over Zoom and only accessible via a link. The link will be available on the CLPL’s Facebook page, or can be received by contacting Mona Vance-Ali at 662.329.5304 or

Communities, Cookbooks, and Columbus: Local History Comes to Dinner" Tuesday, Sept. 22 at noon