Vintage Books, Cookbooks, and the Great Depression

I love books.  Especially vintage books, pre-1950s.  And if they're cookbooks from the Great Depression or earlier, I love them even more. 

They feel wonderful, as they are usually covered with cloth of some sort.  The smell is somehow sentimental, with an aura of history and richness, serving as a reminder of a past era, another lifetime.

The Longfellow book, simply titled "Poems" (pictured above), is perhaps the oldest we own.  It is so old that it is an undated copy, but after researching the publishing company (which existed from 1892-1902) and the cover style used, it appears to be from 1901.

Then, there's another favorite:  Edgar Allen Poe's works, dated 1905.

How could I forget an early edition of Emily Post's classic, Etiquette, in pristine condition...

It would be a treasure find a vintage Bible, perhaps from the early 1900s or so, one that was well-loved with the markings to prove it, don't you think?

Vintage cookbooks are also a rare treasure in this day and age.  Once upon a time, homemakers used real foods for cooking, rather than the chemical-laden, processed concoctions marketed as food today.

These vintage cookbooks span from 1931-1941, right from the era of the Great Depression.

And, since we are discussing Great Depression cooking, have you met Clara, of Great Depression Cooking with Clara?  I think you'll enjoy her and some of her ideas!

What do you collect?  What is precious to you?


  1. Jacqueline says:

    I love old books! I love how they are put together, the pictures and even the old musty smell! LOL But I really like collecting old bibles, I don't have many but I have a few pack away in storage. I think I might try to collect them again.

    It looks like you have a treasure good books there!! Enjoy!


  2. Us Four & No More says:

    I love antique books – a passion that came from purusing old shops with my dad as a girl. I have a complete collection of the "Betsy" series by M.H. Lovelace from the 40's and several primers circa 1898 and the early 1900's. I think my most prized is a copy of Pride and Prejudice published in 1899.I also have several little girls story books from the 20's and 30's.

    Would love to find some old cook books!

    p.s. Love love your blog

  3. Tiffany says:

    I just happened to run across a book last week "Pentecostal Hymns No. 2" It is the oldest book we own, it is dated 1892. It is so neat to see the old hymns…I love vintage books!

  4. Blair says:

    Last time I was at home my father showed me a small cookbook, published by the Iowa Dept of AG, that was all about how great cooking in lard was! At the end it was saying that lard was a product produced in abundance in Iowa and should be used extensively by Iowans!

  5. Jaime G says:


    Thanks for visiting! Contrary to popular belief here in the USA, lard actually isn't all that bad for you. There's been several studies and articles about lard these last few years… For more info, search the Weston A Price web site, or take a peek at this article:

    Personally, I don't use lard. We try to avoid pork products, and lard is derived from pork. We use lots of butter and olive oil, and more recently some coconut oil, too.

    Maybe the old-schoolers weren't wrong, after all :o) Blame it on the big corps that pay out millions of dollars in marketing schemes so they can convince us to buy their plastic Crisco!

    Kudos to the Iowans! :o)


  6. donna perrin says:

    I have my mothers cook book that I remember as a child and I was born in 1960. I don’t know how long she had it before then. I am ashamed to say there are some crayon marks in it, I believe from me. The covers and the first 60 pages are long gone. Is there anyway to estimate the year(s) it was from? It has always interested me because it covers many things I don’t see in cookbooks that I purchase such as color pictures as well as black and white, table setting and service and diagrams for cuts of lamb, beef, pork and veal and how to cook each cut. Well, I just found on page 297 reading across the top “USE ONLY IN 1944 EDITION”. I don’t see that on other pages and have never noticed it before. The last page in the copy I have is 752 but there are some missing. It seems odd for my mother to have had a cookbook with such fine dining and entertaining given her depression era childhood and very limited means while raising us.