Most of the cookbooks in this exhibition feature an "expert" as the author, with this expertise being generated by the author's experience in cooking, whether from working for famous people, or by establishing a reputation through one's writing. Yet another kind of cookbook developed, one created by those presenting themselves distinctly not as experts, but rather as peers of the reader. Some of these works were commercially published, such as The Frugal American Housewife, but the most common expression of a cookbook made by peers is the recipe collection created by a community group or other local organization. The recipes contained in such works are submitted by the group's members, and each entry is signed, with members contributing their favorites. Often these collections are wonderful examples of regional cuisine, or provide examples of popular dishes of a given moment in time.
Also featured here is an example of an individual's recipe collection, familiar to most home cooks. This example dates from the nineteenth century, and features hand-written recipes in the notebook pages, as well as numerous loose pages and cards stuffed into the bound volume.
The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center