Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The University of Iowa’s Special Collections was fortunate to receive Chef Louis Szathmary’s library of cookbooks throughout the mid-80’s. Among the items were a number of handwritten cookbooks that Szathmary had collected over the years. In the Spring of 2012 conservation and digital preservation students began scanning the manuscripts. The first item, Josiah Ingall’s account book, went digital on March 13th, 2012. The goal was to crowd source the transcription of the pages and create legible, accessible, versions of the cookbooks, some of them dating from as far back as the 1600’s.
A little over a year later, the project reached the 100 mark with the digitization of the ‘Household recipe book of Mrs. Howard of Staines, Middlesex and Salsfield Court, Nr. Westerham, England’. This number represents hours of work in addition to 12,674 images totaling 249,361,919,444 bytes! Each item is assessed before scanning, treated if necessary, scanned, processed, and rehoused in a 4-fold-flap. The DIY transcription project is also moving along at a good pace with 33,222 pages transcribed to date.
If you’re interested in browsing the digital collection go to: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cookbooks
Or, if you’d prefer to try your hand (or eyes) at manuscript transcription, visit the DIY transcription site at: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/
Lastly, if you’re feeling super adventurous, try out some of the recipes yourself, also found at the DIY site. There’s everything from dandelion wine to cures for the plague (which hopefully you don’t have).