The University Record, February 07, 2000

Clements Library now has curator of American culinary history

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

The Clements Library has named Jan Longone as curator of American culinary history, a pioneering appointment recognizing the increasing importance of the study of food history.

Longone, founder/owner of Ann Arbor’s Wine and Food Library, the oldest culinary antiquarian bookshop in the United States, has long served as a visiting resource and curator at the Clements. “We are pleased to have this more formal recognition, commitment and relationship,” says Director John Danny. “Mrs. Longone will work on developing the Library’s diverse culinary holdings into a coherent collection and making it more available to scholars and others interested in research in this field.”

Longone notes that “the Clements already has a splendid collection of classic American cookbooks. Their holdings include the first American cookbook (Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, 1796), the first Black-authored household manual (Robert Roberts’ House Servant’s Directory, 1827), the earliest Jewish American cookbook (Mrs. Levy’s Jewish Cookery Book, 1871), and the first book on New Orleans cookery (Creole Cookery Book, edited by the Christian Woman’s Exchange of New Orleans, 1885). In addition, the Clements’ diverse collection of manuscript and published materials, including diaries, herbals, letters, exploration and medical chronicles, all serve as prime resource for culinary scholars.”

Longone serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for the University of California at Berkeley’s new book series “Studies in Food and Culture,” as well as its forthcoming journal Gastronomica. She has written the entries on American cookbook history and several biographies for the recently released Oxford Companion to Food. She continues to serve as culinary consultant to Dover Press for its Classic American Cookbooks series, selecting works to be re-published in facsimile and writing the historic introductions for each.

A veteran lecturer on gastronomy and American culinary history, Longone for many years co-hosted the radio program “Adventures in Gastronomy” for Michigan Radio.

As a culinary historian, Longone has served as a consultant to historical museums, to authors and publishers of cookbooks, and to restaurateurs and other food industry professionals. A Boston native, she has contributed a chapter on the history of American community cookbooks to Recipes for Reading, published by the University of Massachusetts Press.