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A Domestic Cook Book

Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen

Subjects: Cookbooks, African American Studies, Michigan and the Great Lakes, Food and Drink
Open Access : 9780472904358, 120 pages, 1 photograph, 5.5 x 8.5, February 2025
Paperback : 9780472039647, 120 pages, 1 photograph, 5.5 x 8.5, February 2025
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Bringing new life to the oldest known published cookbook written by an African American woman

Table of contents

Introduction: Malinda Russell: An Indomitable Woman—An American Story
A Domestic Cook Book


A Domestic Cook Book (1866) by Malinda Russell is the oldest known published cookbook written by an African American woman. This new edition includes a foreword by scholar Rafia Zafar as well as an introduction by food historian Janice Bluestein Longone that contextualize Russell’s cookbook. Born in Tennessee and descended from Virginia freemen, Russell decided to move to Liberia at the age of 19. When her money for the trip was stolen, she ended up stranded in Lynchburg, Virginia, and began working as a cook and companion, traveling with ladies as a nurse. After living there for only four years, her husband died and she moved with her son to Tennessee where she kept a boarding house and then went on to run a pastry shop. After a second dramatic robbery in 1864, Malinda moved to Paw Paw, Michigan, because she had heard it was the “garden of the west” and published a cookbook “with the intention of benefiting the public” as well as supporting herself.

A Domestic Cook Book contains 260 recipes and household tips that draw from Malinda Russell’s twenty years of experience cooking in Southern kitchens, her boarding house, and her pastry shop, and showcase her skills as a pastry chef. Using the only known copy of the original book housed in the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan’s Clements Library, this new edition preserves an important part of Michigan and American history and makes it widely available to readers for the first time.