Recipes with Local Ingredients 16th May, 2019

Community cookbooks and advertising materials are two of the most popular collections within the Special Collections.

The community cookbooks are produced by volunteers from organizations such as schools, churches, associations, etc. Normally these cookbooks were for fund-raising purposes, and some others were for publicizing the community, and some were used as a way to display local history and traditions. The books reflect the food habits of the local community and a lot of them contain historical stories and their own drawings which add a lovely character to the books and also give the readers lots of interesting background information along with the delicious local recipes. Special Collections houses over 300 community cookbooks.

Haydays Plain and Fancy prepared by Senior Citizens' Association, Hay, N.S.W., 1965



Illustrations in the community books drew by the members of the community

Grammar Gourmet prepared by Brighton Grammar School, Brighton, VIC, [1970’s]


Advertising materials came in form of recipe booklets produced by food or cookware businesses as bonus items for their customers. The recipes are created around and based on their products were a clever way of promoting their goods. They provided readers inspiration for change of cooking equipment and food brands over the time.

How to decorate a cake by Anne Anson
Published by Taylor, Law & Co Ltd, Stourbridge, England, [1940's - 1950's]


 If you are interested in exploring any of these two collections please head off to our Special Collections Research Room located on the ground floor, Building C.


Cookery Teaching in The Early Days (2)  24th Oct, 2018

The current exhibition in the Special Collections Research Room features early teaching cookbooks written by Flora Pell, Lucy Drake, and Margaret Pearson, etc., which follows on from the exhibition held in February this year about "Cookery Teaching in The Early Days."

The books in the photo above were popular cookbooks, which were used as textbooks in Queensland schools in early 1900s. These were written by Amy Schauer who was senior cookery teacher at the Central Technical College in Brisbane for over 40 years and also was an examiner in Cookery for the Queensland Department of Education. She was commissioned by the government to establish Cookery sections in Technical Colleges in cities and towns throughout the country (Ryan, 2006-2018).

Amy Schauer, Brisbane, 1927 

[image from State Library of Queensland]


Margaret Jane Pearson's book- Cookery Recipes for The People, was the best seller published in three editions with over 16,000 copies sold in the late 1880s. The book included practical recipes and was used as a textbook at the Working Men's College where Margaret was appointed to run cookery classes (Kay, 2017).



[image from State Library of Victoria]


The book in the top left corner in the photo above titled Our Cookery Book was written by Flora Pell who started teaching career in cookery when she was 15 years old. Later, she became a cookery instructor in Victoria town of Geelong and Bendigo, then moved to the Melbourne suburb of Carlton. She was appointed cookery supervisor in training cookery teachers at the Melbourne Continuation School in 1908. In 1915 she became Headmistress of the Collingwood Domestic Arts School (Wishart, 2018).

A year later, her most popular book, Our Cookery Book, was first published, which was reprinted over 24 times from 1916 until the 1950s. The recipes in this book provide insight into food economy and preferences in Australian in the early 20th Century. Furthermore, this book is the first cookbook that discussed components of nutrition, such as protein, fats, and carbohydrates, etc.

However, this book brought her into conflict with the Victoria Department of Education due to the wording that included textbook in the advertisement without approval by the Education Department. The conflict led to end of Flora Pell’s long career life in cookery, and she retired in 1929 (Wishart, 2018).

Lucy Drake was another cookery instructor who had written a series of cookbooks for training classes in Melbourne. She was the head of The Domestic Art department at Swinburne Technical College in Victoria in 1914 (Bannerman, 1998.)
Her most famous cookbook, Everylady's Cook-Book, was kept in print over the years and became kitchen companion to thousands of Australians.



Bannerman, C. (1998). Acquired tastes: celebrating Australia’s culinary history. Canberra: National Library of Australia.

Kay, E. (2017). Cooking up history: chefs of the past. London: Prospect Books.

Ryan, D. P. (2006-2018). Schauer, Amy (1871–1956)
Retrieved from http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/schauer-amy-8353

Wishart, A. (2018). The turbulent history of our cookery book.
Retrieved from https://www.prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/provenance-journal/provenance-2010/turbulent-history-our-cookery-book



Special Collections Display During the Library Week 21st - 25th May, 2018

For the first time, Special Collections went on display in the central area of the LRC for celebrating Library Week during 21st – 25th May.

The display featured two of the oldest books in the collections both published in 1700’s and some other unique and rare cookbooks and menus.

IMG 5291


IMG 5292


IMG 5293


A set of ten menus from a guest house named Kooringa in Marysville, Victoria were highlighted in the menu display. The guest house was originally a private home of the Webb family in the early 20th century, which was converted in the 1920's due to the growth of tourists in Marysville.

Local Leaflet approx 1929
 Advertisement, c. 1930s


A glance at these menus from a guest's weeklong stay in the autumn of 1936 certainly shows an enormous choice of dishes - dominated by roast meats. The roneo reproduced menus are each individually decorated with native drawings on various themes.







Unfortunately, on Black Saturday, the 7th February 2009, the house was destroyed by the firestorm.





Cookery Teaching in The Early Days (1)  22nd Feb, 2018

During February to April 2018, the Special Collections Research Room will be exhibiting cookbooks written by Harriett Wicken, who was one of the first teachers in cookery and domestic science in Australia. Mrs. Wicken migrated to Victoria in 1886 after working as a cookery teacher in London. She first gave cooking classes at Warrnambool, Victoria and then acquired a diploma from the National Training School for Cookery in South Kensington, and became a cookery lecturer and demonstrator, later moved to Sydney and was appointed a lecturer in the department of domestic economy at Sydney Technical College in 1889.

Before her arrival to Australia, Mrs. Wicken already had her book titled Kingswood Cookery Book published in London in 1885. Once she was in Australia, she rewrote the whole book with alterations and additions to make it more practical for the Australian housekeeper. In 1888, the revised and enlarged Australian edition of The Kingswood Cookery Book was published. This version was used as a textbook in her cookery class at Sydney Technical College. After 1896 Mrs. Wicken stopped teaching at the technical college and continued to build her specialties on demonstrating cooking with gas. Some other small cookery books were produced, such as Recipes of Lenten Dishes (1896), Dainty Foods (1911), Australian Table Dainties and Appetising Dishes (1897), etc.

She also contributed about 300 recipes to a book titled The Art of Living in Australia (Sydney, 1893), one of the famous early Australian cookbooks written by her Macquarie Street neighbour and diet reformer, Dr Philip Muskett.

Come in and check out the books on display.

IMG 2361

 IMG 2115