Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Archive Family Keepsakes Blog Book Tour: How to Preserve Vintage Cookbooks

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**Note from Gena:
I'm so happy to introduce this guest post from Denise Levenick, excerpted from her new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes. I feel strongly that in order to research female ancestors and preserve their stories we need to use the documents and heirlooms they left behind. Denise and I both have a passion for vintage cookbooks. An important aspect to documenting family history is preserving it for later generations. I know you will get some valuable tips in her guest post.

**Note from Denise:
Today’s Guest Post for the Blog Book Tour features an excerpt from my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes on safely storing and organizing your vintage cookbook collection. Whether you have a single stained cookbook that once belonged to your grandmother, or bookshelves groaning with the weight of many volumes, I hope you will take the time to safely preserve your family keepsakes for the generations of cooks to come.

How to Preserve Vintage Cookbooks
Guest Post by Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator
author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012).

Most family collections include a few books-- high school and college yearbooks, favorite cookbooks, novels, or poetry volumes. Conservators recommend that stable bound books be stored upright on shelving unless they are rare or in poor condition when they should be stored flat and in protective archival boxes.
Before storing your family cookbooks, take time to carefully examine the volume for genealogical clues to your family history. You may find women’s maiden names, or clues to mothers, aunts and other elusive female relatives. Look through the book page by page for loose papers. Take note of favorite recipes, those with notes or tell-tale food stains!

Where to Store Old Cookbooks
For most of us, the best, and easiest place, to store family books is right in with our current volumes. Your bookcase is probably located in the temperate environment of your family room, living room, or den and relatively free from dust, insects, and extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity.
If you decide to store vintage cookbooks in your kitchen, select a shelf where away from the cooking range where grease, heat, and dust can easily damage paper and bindings.
If you like to cook with your old cookbooks, consider covering the book with a protective book jacket, or using photocopies of favorite recipes. 

Catalog Your Cookbooks
Take time to write a brief history, or provenance, or your treasured cookbooks. Include the names (birth and death dates, and addresses if you know them) of previous owners. You could write the information in pencil on the flyleaf of your book, or on a piece of acid-free paper tucked inside the first pages.

If you have a large cookbook collection, you may want to catalog the books and include the ownership information in your inventory. Keep a copy in your archive or with your family history records so you remember what books you own and where they came from.
For help preserving old family recipe cards, see The Family Curator: 3 Recipes for Preserving Family Recipe Cards.

Organizing Options
1. Organize by subject.
2. Organize by owner or family if you are caring for the archives of several ancestors.

Storage Solutions
• Store printed books upright on home bookshelves or in your archival storage location.
• Store damaged or fragile books flat inside archival folders or closed boxes.

• Remove bookmarks and pressed flowers from pages of books.
Consider removing news clippings and replacing with photocopies on acid-free paper. The acid in newsprint can easily damage adjacent pages due from acid-migration.
• Take care when removing upright books from shelves. Do not pull the volume by the spine; instead push back on the volumes on either side and grasp the volume to remove.
• Avoid writing in rare or fragile books. Add identifying notes on a piece of archival paper inserted in the front of the book.
• Use a hose attachment to vacuum your bookshelves regularly to keep dust-free.

• Look for book and pamphlet storage options in archival catalogs.
• Protect the cover or dust jacket with clear archival plastic covers.

Resources for Archival Book Jackets:
Brodart <www.shopbrodart.com>
Gaylord Brothers <www.gaylord.com>
HollingerMetal Edge <www.hollingermetaledge.com>
from How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick (Family Tree Books, 2012). Copyright, 2012, Denise May Levenick. All Rights Reserved. www.thefamilycurator.com.
How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012) ISBN 1440322236
Paperback / eBook Family Tree Books, Amazon.com, Scribd, iBooks, Barnes&Noble.com. 10% Savings Coupon ShopFamilyTree.

Join the Blog Tour
Join the Blog Book Tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes January 10-26, 2013 for author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more. Visit the Blog Book Tour Page at The Family Curator website for the complete schedule.
Proceeds from the sale of How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Book Tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 in honor of Denise’s mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.

Blog Book Tour Giveaways
Comment on daily Book Blog Tour Post
Tweet the Tour Twitter @FamilyCurator #keepsakebooktour
Share the Tour on FaceBook, Google+, Goodreads

It’s easy to enter to win a free copy of Denise’s new book or one of the weekly giveaway prizes. All you have to do is leave a comment to the Blog Tour Post hosted at one of the official tour blogs. Random winners will also be selected from social media comments on Twitter, FaceBook, and Google+.

Each blog tour post comment gives you one chance to win; one entry per post per day, please. Leave a comment at each stop on the blog tour and increase your chances of winning. The lucky names will be announced each Saturday during the tour at The Family Curator.

About the Author
In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” Denise May Levenick is a writer, researcher, and speaker with a passion for preserving and sharing family treasures of all kinds. She is the creator of the award-winning family history blog, The Family Curator www.TheFamilyCurator.com and author of the new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records, (Family Tree Books, 2012).


  1. Thank you for sharing how to preserve old cookbooks. I am a collector and this is good information!

  2. It's hard to stop at ONE vintage cookbook! I love them too. Thanks for stopping by the Blog Book Tour.

  3. One of the things I like to look for in community cookbooks is who submitted recipes. I have found relative's and neighbor's recipes in a couple books from my hometown and that makes them even more special.

  4. Thanks for sharing this excerpt from the book. I enjoyed reading your tips.

  5. I like to look in community cookbooks for who submitted the recipes. I have found relative's and neighbor's recipes in a couple of my hometown cookbooks and that makes the book and the recipe that more special.

  6. I love finding the women's names too, Pam. It makes the recipes seem more "real" somehow. It's also fun to think about the kinds of dishes that are popular in a community -- six recipes for chicken a la king!

    Thanks for joining us on the blog book tour! ~ Denise

  7. Thank you so much for this information. I have my Grandmother's cookbook from 1940. She was a newlywed and had several recipes marked. In it I also found some hand written recipes too. I will use the ideas presented here to make sure it is preserved.

  8. I have some old family books but no cookbooks. I would love to have and old family cookbook. I know my grandmother cooked from scratch three meals a date for a family of 12.

  9. Vintage cookbooks are so much fun. One of my favorites is a Mirro cookie press from the 1950s and the cookbook that came with it. I still use it every Christmas. Thanks for these tips, Denise!

  10. Thanks for this helpful information. It is fun to notice which recipes were favorites (because of the food stains) but I've yet to find any family information. Maybe I'll search deeper!

  11. Great advice! I have some old cookbooks that I really need to take some precautions with. Thanks for the tips!

  12. I like collecting community cookbooks from places I've visited. I don't often cook from them, but I can almost taste the food.

    Shelley, those old appliance cookbooks are great too. I may have to get a Spritz cookie recipe from you!

    Thanks for following the tour! ~ Denise

  13. Although no 'domestic goddess' myself, I did inherit my grandmother's many recipes that she wrote down herself. I never even thought about 'preserving' them - they are all just in a box! (And I call myself a family historian! LOL) Thanks for the tips as to how to get started on that process and for reminding me that everything from our past needs preserving in special ways.

  14. I love the community cookbooks and have seveal dating back to the early 50's and 60's. But my favorite is a copy that holds recipe cards (3 to a page) published by a local newspaper in the 30's and 40's that belonged to my grandmother. Just reading the recipes you can tell how tough times were economically and how home cooks pinched their pennies while still putting nutritious, good food on their tables.

  15. The best thing I've ever found in a vintage cookbook was, besides a handwritten recipe in the inside cover telling how to make lye soap, my husband's grandmother's handwritten mathematical formula for measuring a pile of hay to calculate how much hay was in the stack!

  16. Thank you for these tips! I need to document each of my cookbooks since I have many from my side and my husband's side of the family.