May 29, 2022

Tasty! "Milwaukee Public Library's 'Historic Recipe File' Digitizes Dishes of Yore"

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

From the 1960s through the 1980s, librarians at the Milwaukee Public Library clipped recipes from the city’s two newspapers. Filed on index cards, they became a valuable database for Ready Reference librarians answering calls from the public.

Now, a selection of those recipes – 500 and counting – are available in a new Historic Recipe File digital c [on] the library’s website.

Librarian Rebecca Desch, who’s in charge of cookbook selection for the library, recalled poking through the “drawers and drawers” of recipe cards and other food articles in the Ready Reference office.

“We started looking at the collection and thought, ‘Wow, this is really historic, there are restaurants here that no longer exist.’ We wanted to preserve and collect it; we didn’t want the cards to get lost.”

Then, Desch said, they began to wonder if the public might be interested in accessing this “culinary snapshot” of an earlier era, Jell-O salads, casseroles, ethnic specialties and all.

With the help of student volunteers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the first 530 recipes were scanned in.

Direct to the Historic Recipe File Digital Collection (via Milwaukee Public Library)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.