Saturday, January 19, 2008

Growing the Archive

I was so excited to open a package that came to SoFAB from cookbook author, Sheila E. Ainbinder, for our collection. Sheila wrote a cookbook in celebration of the opening of the Riverwalk in New Orleans in 1986, The Legends of Louisiana Cookbook: The Cuisine of New Orleans and Its Colorful History. The book was privately published in 1987. Later the book was reissued by Simon & Schuster in 1991. The package contained a copy of the original book and a copy of the nationally published book. All of this was great. We cannot have too many Southern cookbooks.

But Sheila sent us more. She sent us the notes from her cookbook, drafts of recipes, letters that she received from contributors of the book, galleys, and old menus. All of these documents flesh out the cookbook, making it not just a finished product, but a work developed and living. We cannot thank Sheila enough. Preserving all of the notes and behind the scenes material creates a treasure trove for researchers in the future. This is one of the important reasons for which SoFAB was created.

To all of the rest of you out there who have written articles, books and other materials about Southern food and drink, please remember to send us your papers. We will preserve and catalog them and make them available to researchers. It will also get them out of your attic, garage or closet.