Wednesday, April 3

Study Up! A Bibliography on Women, Work, and Food

Women canning tomatoes in Belle Glade, FL, 1940. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, courtesy of the Library of Congress.
This year, both our summer symposium in Richmond and our annual (fall) symposium in Oxford will focus on the theme of women, work, and food. Our graduate assistant, Anna Hamilton, compiled a comprehensive Women, Work, and Food Bibliography, which you can access by clicking the link. A shorter, annotated list of suggested reading follows. Thanks to Anna for her crack research skills, and to our postdoctoral fellow, Angela Jill Cooley, for pointing us toward many of the scholarly titles. 

Scholarship and General Nonfiction

Druckman, Charlotte. Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012.

Using voices of seventy contemporary female chefs, Charlotte Druckman gives us a behind-the- scenes vantage of the ins and outs, demands and rewards of working as a woman in the culinary industry.

Engelhardt, Elizabeth. A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender, Southern Food. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

A Mess of Greens challenges the nostalgic and romanticized conceptions of Southern food by attending to the changing roles of race, class and gender in the American South of the early 20th century.

Jones, Lu Ann. Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Drawing from oral histories, Lu Ann Jones writes about farm women in the 20th century South as they grew outside of the domestic realm to forge identities as producers, consumers, and important economic and cultural forces.

Sharpless, Rebecca. Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865-1960. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Rebecca Sharpless examines the changing lives of African American cooks as they sought lucrative employment while struggling to assert individuality from emancipation through early stages of the civil rights movement.

Taylor, Candacy. Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Candacy Taylor travels more than 26,000 miles across the U.S. to tell the stories of dedicated American coffee shop waitresses and their pivotal roles in the community.

Wallace-Sanders, Kimberly. Mammy: A Century of Race, Gender, and Southern Memory. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009.

Kimberly Wallace-Sanders charts representations and functions of the Mammy figure—the idealized embodiment of the comforting, loyal black caretaker—through American history.

Williams-Forson, Psyche. Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Psyche Williams-Forson uses chicken as lens to consider how this food sustained and shaped the culture and lives of African American women in the U.S. South.


Lewis, Edna. The Taste of Country Cooking. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976.

Part cookbook, part memoir by lauded chef Edna Lewis (1916–2006), The Taste of Country Cooking is an intimate look at life—and cooking—on a Virginia farm in the early 20th century.

Randolph, Mary. The Virginia House-Wife. (First published in 1824; several editions available in print and online). 
From recipes for Beaten Biscuits, Chicken Pudding, and Catfish Soup, Mrs. Randolph introduces readers to “traditional Virginia cooking” in what is widely considered the first regional American cookbook.

Sherrod, Katie, ed. Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook. Fort Worth: TCU Press, 2010.
Local community members couch recipes in historical analysis to provide a look at the shifting roles of women in the domestic to civic spheres in Fort Worth, Texas.