Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Finding vintage cookbook downloads

Jerry Stratton, September 13, 2023

Orange macadamia fudge: Orange macadamia fudge from the Imperial Sugar Company’s 125th Anniversary cookbook.; oranges; macadamia nuts; fudge; Imperial Sugar

Orange macadamia nut fudge, from the Imperial Sugar Company’s 125th Anniversary Cookbook in 1968.

Most of the time, the easiest source for online cookbooks is archive.org. It has its own search facility for finding titles. If you’re looking for an ingredient or term rather than a title, you can use a general purpose search engine. You can search for that term and restrict the search to archive.org. Most search engines have something like a site:hostname search. To find all mentions of old fashioned brown sugar on archive.org, for example, search for "old fashioned brown sugar" site:archive.org.

If you’re using macOS or iOS, you may find xSearch useful. With it, I can just type ia texas cook book to search the Internet Archive. I set the xSearch shortcut to “ia”, and the URL to “https://archive.org/search.php?query=%s”. The “%s” is replaced with whatever text comes after “ia” and the space. In this example, that means searching all of the titles at the archive for the words texas, cook, and book.

There are several collections at Universities also, and they have some great old cookbooks available for download. One of my favorites is Michigan State University’s Sliker Culinary Collection of Little Cookbooks. It is filled with wonderful old pamphlets and promotional books, such as Diamond Walnut Recipe Gems. Fair warning, browsing this collection can easily make hours disappear without feeling the time pass at all.

Often, university collections focus on the specific geographical area that the university serves. Even closer to my heart than MSU’s little cookbooks is their Feeding Michigan collection. This doesn’t collect commercial pamphlets, but community cookbooks dating all the way back to the 1800s—all from Michigan. Two great cookbooks if you don’t want to randomly browse it and lose those many hours are The Charlotte Cook Book and The Grand Rapids Cook Book.

Another great set of books comes from the Texas Agricultural Service Extension of Texas A&M, and their archive on OAKTrust. The Christmas bulletins are especially nice.

Christmas Time at Home: Christmas Time at Home, a 1958 publication of Texas A&M’s Agricultural Service Extension.; Texas; cookbooks; Christmas

Texas A&M wants you to enjoy your Christmas time at home with your family.

Charlotte Cookbook Cookies: Two pages of cookies from the 1893 Charlotte (Michigan) Cook Book.; cookies; food history; vintage cookbooks; Charlotte, Michigan

Two pages of Michigan cookies from 1893.

Diamond Walnut Recipe Gems: Diamond Walnut Recipe Gems, a 1967 publication of Diamond Walnut Growers, Inc.; cookbooks; walnuts; Diamond Walnuts

Walnuts for everything from carrot sides to snacks and cakes!

If you’re interested in a specific region, such as your home state, check your local universities and colleges to see if they have any region-specific collections. And don’t forget your local library. While local libraries rarely have the resources to scan and post books, even the small town I grew up in has a history room with a small community cookbook collection. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, especially since you’re likely to recognize some of the names. You might even find some old family recipes!

A handful of companies keep archives of their old books and publications. One wonderful example is Texas’s own1 Imperial Sugar. Their web site is filled with great old books from their own history. Look especially for their 125th Anniversary Cookbook, which collects recipes from their older books. Imperial Sugar not only encourages downloading them, but sharing them.

Oddly, for unexplained reasons Imperial Sugar’s Romantic Recipes of the Old South and the Great Southwest isn’t available here, but is on Little Cookbooks.

Also in Texas, the Adams Extract company keeps an archive of the recipe cards they used to publish.

There are, I’m sure, many other places to look for digitized cookbooks. These are the places that I’ve found most useful and most interesting. They’re also useful when buying books online. I used to almost never buy cookbooks online. Too often, online vendors display no more than the cover of the book at best. At worst, it will be a stock cover.

Nowadays, when I find a potentially interesting cookbook at an online sales site, I’ll look for that cookbook in these archives, as well as through general web searches, to browse through before buying. These archives allow me to better decide whether a book is worth buying sight unseen.

Cheese chocolate fudge: Chocolate and cream cheese fudge from the 1958 Christmas Time at Home.; chocolate; cocoa; cream cheese; fudge

A very easy fudge made with cream cheese, from the 1958 Texas Agricultural Extension Christmas Time at Home.

White cookies #1: White cookies #1 from the 1893 Charlotte Cook Book.; eggs; cookies

These cookies from the 1893 Charlotte book use cooked egg yolk to make them tender.

Spiced walnut crunch: Spiced walnut crunch from the 1967 Diamond Walnut Recipe Gems.; walnuts

A classic holiday snack from the 1967 Diamond recipe book.

Sometimes it even works the other way, although this is rarely deliberate. I ran across The Charlotte Cook Book while browsing Feeding Michigan. Only a few weeks later an inexpensive copy popped up on eBay. That’s been a fun find. I would never have thought, for example, of adding hard-boiled egg yolk to cookies to make them more tender. But that was Mrs. J.S. Moon’s trick for “white cookies” in that collection. They were so good I’ve chosen that recipe for this post!

But I even look on these sites after I buy a book. Every time I find a new vintage cookbook, I look for a downloadable version. While I vastly prefer to browse for recipes in physical books, and to follow recipes from physical books, I also enjoy cooking and baking while on the road, and I can’t carry my entire library with me!

These sites allow me to keep copies of my favorite vintage pamphlets on my phone and tablet for use when visiting friends and family.

Which leads me to the final of “my” favorite sites for finding vintage cookbooks: the Padgett Sunday Supper Club Vintage Archive. I’ve written a script to take scanned images and turn them into searchable PDF files. Now, whenever I can’t find one of these pamphlets online, I’ll be adding them to my own archive. I released the first of my scans just before Christmas, and have many more in the pipeline, so stay tuned to that page!

Moon’s White Cookies

White Cookies

Servings: 48
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Mrs. J.S. Moon
Review: The Charlotte Cook Book (Jerry@Goodreads)
The Charlotte Cook Book (Feeding Michigan)


  • 8 oz butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 hard-boiled yolk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)


  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Add flour in a steady pour while mixing.
  3. Press the hard-boiled yolk through a fine sieve directly into the flour.
  4. Mix in with the baking powder.
  5. Mix in the eggs.
  6. Mix in the vanilla.
  7. Mix in the nuts if using.
  8. Drop from a teaspoon onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  9. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.
  10. Rest 30 seconds before removing to cooling rack.

In response to Vintage Cookbooks and Recipes: I have a couple of vintage cookbooks queued up to go online.

  1. Sort of. Since 2012 Imperial Sugar has been owned by Louis Dreyfus Group of the Netherlands. It remains headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas, however.

  1. <- Sunflower seed recipes
  2. Fancy Hiram Walker ->