Pedagogy Series 3.4: The Muslim Recipe Book

By: Laci Thompson, MA student in American Studies


The Muslim Recipe Book Lupton TX715.E45 1995

Our pedagogy series is a way to highlight innovative teaching using primary sources housed in the Division of Special Collections. This post is our final portion of our series dedicated to Dr. Morgan’s American Folklore course. 

Cool cookbooks galore are waiting to be discovered at Hoole Library—and they are guaranteed to make your stomach start to rumble too. During a recent class unit on Southern Foodways, my American Studies classmates and I met at Hoole to look at the cookbooks housed in the David Walker Lupton Collection. Besides cookbooks, the Hoole archive includes texts from the first 100 years of the printing press, ancient coins, and early modern artifacts. In the last 30 years or so, the collection has expanded to include more popular culture texts such as the cookbooks we analyzed.

Foodways can be an extremely valuable lens through which to study a culture. Far from being mere collections of recipes, cookbooks raise several questions whose answers can illuminate cultural settings and actions in a new light: Who is served and who does the serving? What ingredients are used and are they traditional or do they show the influence of outside cultures? What role does religion play in food? How are present cultural and social realities portrayed through these books? How might this lived experience differ depending on race or gender or any other number of factors? How is history both reflected and revised through cookbooks that harken to a past era?

These are some of the questions that I had on my mind when I picked up The Muslim Recipe Book: Recipes for Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. This collection of recipes consists of xeroxed pages and is housed in a clear binder. Such aesthetics emphasize its local readership. Over half of its 48 pages are dedicated to outlining the principles of Islam and tenets of Black Nationalism. Far from being merely recipes, it stands as a testament of the communal nature and importance of Islam, being directed at both practicing Muslims as well as those with a possible interest in the religion.

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Pedagogy Series 3.3: Soul Food Cookery

By: Samm Banks, MA student in American Studies

Our pedagogy series is a way to highlight innovative teaching using primary sources housed in the Division of Special Collections. Read the first and second posts of this series if you haven’t already. On Thursday, we’ll hear from Laci Thompson.


Samm Banks

Cookbooks are a valuable way not only to see inside various different cultures, but also to gain first-person insight to cultural movements in society. Though some cookbooks are widely produced and available at any bookstore, some are restricted to certain communities and groups who produce cookbook for the benefit of their own, unique communities. In these cases, the cheap materials used cause these cookbooks to be lost to time. In many cases, cookbooks are discarded and rarely recognized as a valuable window into communities and cultures through time.


Soul Food Cookery, Lupton TX 715.K3 1968

In Soul Food Cookery, the author identifies her heritage as “Negro,” not out of derogation, but as an accepted term used to describe African Americans. This is similar to the LBGT community’s reclaiming of the word “queer” in that the community has taken a form of abuse, and transformed it into a sense of pride. As this cookbook was produced in the 1960’s, this is probably a direct result of Black Pride taking place in the U.S. at this time. The author defines “soul” as a cultural marker, an association with being a more satisfied person. Though this paints a picture of pride and progress, the realities of the cookbook’s contents reveal some of the norms of African American existence in the 1960’s.

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Pedagogy Series 3.2: Our Community Roots

By: Emily Tarvin, MA student in American Studies

Our pedagogy series is a way to highlight innovative teaching using primary sources housed in the Division of Special Collections. Read Dr. Morgan’s introduction to his series if you haven’t already. Emily Tarvin, who wrote today’s post, is the first student we’ll feature. Wednesday, we’ll hear from Samm Banks. On Thursday, Laci Thompson will share her contribution.


Our Community Roots, Lupton TX 715.097 1979

The cookbook Our Community Roots from the David Walker Lupton African American Cookbook Collection gives readers insight into the Lost Creek Community in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1979. The cookbook was created by four women who gathered recipes from various people scattered across the United States, and it is addressed “to all cooks” who aspire to learn how to make “more elegant and nutritious dishes.” The desire for elegance contrasts the simple and inexpensive appearance of the book, but there are black and white cartoons to help decorate the pages inside.

Since the recipes were submitted by several different people, there is no consistent format or structure throughout, but all of the ingredients and instructions are traditional and simplistic. The women making this cookbook worked to preserve the traditions of the community but also to pass on communal knowledge and attitudes.

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Pedagogy Series 3.1: American Folklore and the Lupton Cookbook Collection

By: Dr. Stacy Morgan, Associate Professor in American Studies

Our pedagogy series is a way to highlight innovative teaching using primary sources housed in the Division of Special Collections. Interested in reviewing our earlier features? If so, check out Brooke Champagne’s Honors First Year Writing classes from Fall 2013 and Amy Chen and Kate Matheny’s collaboration to bring the theme of “In the Archives” to the majority of Honors First Year Writing classes during Fall 2014


Dr. Stacy Morgan

This semester I’m teaching a graduate seminar for the Department of American Studies entitled “American Folklore.” The course is divided into four units that examine various folk traditions pertaining to stories, foodways, music, and art.  In addition to in-depth discussion of course content on these topics, we spend time virtually every week considering the advantages and limitations of wide-ranging research methods, such as ethnography, oral history & interviews, and the examination of archival materials.  Within this framework, setting up one week in the foodways unit for my students to spend time with material from the David Walker Lupton African American Cookbook Collection at Hoole Special Collection Library was a no-brainer, since it offered students the opportunity to work with diverse archival documents that ranged from the early 20th century to the relatively recent past.


Bess Gant’s Cook Book, Lupton TX715 .G211 1947b

As I suggested to my students by way of introduction to this session, cookbooks offer potential windows onto several different types of historical information.  At the most basic level, cookbooks provide information about what kinds of foods and beverages people consumed in particular time periods, as well as insight into how such dishes were prepared, what ingredients were used, and, often, at least some suggestion of why such dishes were popular.  Thus, cross-referencing cookbooks from different time periods can be a means of charting change over time with respect to the content, technology, and preferences of U.S. foodways traditions.

Because many of the cookbooks in the Lupton Collection were self-published by individuals or local community institutions, a number of them contain not only recipes, but also statements of specific regional, ethnic, and/or religious identities.  In this way, cookbooks frequently speak to historical contexts beyond just foodways per se.  Especially for 19th or early 20th century time frames, where interviews are no longer a viable means of gathering information, cookbooks of the sort housed in the Lupton Collection provide an invaluable resource for scholars of folklore.  After all, one of the central projects of folklore is to train attention on the traditions, everyday lives, and cultural values of so-called ordinary Americans—those whose experiences might not otherwise find their way into the arena of academic study or wider consideration.

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Interview with Dr. Russ McConnell, curator of Grammar-Land, Part II

On Monday, we talked to Dr. Russ McConnell, curator of Grammar-Land, which will be on display in the reading room of Hoole’s lobby through the end of November. He discussed his research and the intellectual background to his show. Today, he will share how he put it together and best practices he’d recommend to future curators.


Marginalia seen on a book featured in the exhibition

What steps did you go through to create your exhibition?

I met Dr. Amy Chen through some other people that I know at UA Libraries, and she asked me if I would be interested in curating a special collections exhibition.  Although I was already interested in exploring the special collections libraries here at Alabama, it had not occurred to me that I might be able to do this.  It seemed like an exciting opportunity, as well as an excuse to spend some enjoyable time in the rare book room.  I met with Dr. Chen formally to learn about what was involved in this sort of project and she showed me the exhibit space and provided me with documents detailing the various aspects of exhibition planning, as well as a standardized spreadsheet that I could use to record the necessary information about the items that would appear in the exhibit.

I started by doing a series of catalog searches to get a sense of the W. S. Hoole holdings, using broad search terms like “grammar” and “writing.”  Of course, this procedure generated very long lists of search results, but I firmly believe that in special collections work it is always better to generate the long list and take the time to work through it: you never know if number 256 in the list is going to turn out to be something fascinating.  Additionally, it does not actually take too long to pare down these long lists of search results into a manageable number of items.  In doing this initial search and subsequent winnowing, I determined that the Hoole Library does in fact have a varied and interesting collection of rare book materials in the area of grammar and writing instruction, although this collection fell outside of the time period and geographical range that I usually study.


Search term “grammar” on Scout, limited by results found at Hoole

The next step was to visit the Hoole reading room and call up all my chosen items at once to have a look at them.  Once I had my items I looked at each of them individually.  Inevitably some of these items turned out not to be relevant at all: I somehow ended up with a nineteenth century anatomy textbook, mixed in with the other items.  It included a very interesting chapter on the insalubrious effects of wearing corsets, but this item nevertheless did not seem to me to fit into any exhibition that I had the expertise to curate.

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Interview with Dr. Russ McConnell, curator of Grammar-Land, Part I

By: Dr. Russ McConnell, Instructor in the English Department

This week, we’re talking Dr. Russ McConnell about his research and his process for curating an exhibition with special collections materials. Check back on Wednesday to hear his tips and tricks.

Hello! Thank you for agreeing to speak with us today about the experience of curating an exhibition with the Division of Special Collections. First, could you tell us a bit about your role here at the University of Alabama?


Dr. Russ McConnell

I received my BA in English at the University of Calgary and my MA and PhD at the University of Western Ontario.  This is my first semester at the University of Alabama and I am an instructor in the English Department.  This semester I am teaching English 215, an Honors course that surveys British literature from the medieval period to 1800.  Next semester I will be teaching English 220, an Honors course surveying American literature from 1865 onwards.  I will also be teaching a seminar course on comic books for the Blount Undergraduate Initiative.

What does your scholarship primarily discuss?

My doctoral dissertation was titled Graphic Drama: Reading Shakespeare in the Comics Medium, and was devoted to discussing and demonstrating the power and versatility of comic books in adapting and interpreting early modern dramatic literature.  Doing so involved not only analyzing a wide range of comic book versions of Shakespearean plays, but also developing an analytical method capable of fully drawing out the fascinating complexities of these works.

My current research concerns the history of grammar and writing instruction in early modern England, with a particular emphasis upon William Lily’s seminal textbook, A Short Introduction of Grammar, which dominated English grammar school education from 1548 to 1758.  Thus far, my work in this area has emphasized the poetry of John Milton and Andrew Marvell.

Although these two research areas may seem disparate, they are in fact deeply congruous, as both represent a historical formalist approach to literary interpretation.  This approach focuses on the discursive forms and structures that make meaning possible in a particular medium, and on how these forms and structures are learned, used, and understood by practitioners.

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Pedagogy Series 2: “In the Archives” themed Honors First Year Writing, Part II

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow, and Kate Matheny, IT Technical Specialist I

On Monday, we discussed the collaboration between Amy and Brooke that led to this fall’s “In the Archive” themed Honors First-Year Writing classes. Today, we’re covering what Brooke and Amy — now joined by Kate Matheny, the Outreach Coordinator for Digital Services, and Sara Whitver, the First-Year Experience librarian, decided to do to support these sections.


“In the Archives” themed Honors First Year Writing LibGuide

During our meeting in July, we decided we needed to do the following:

  • Instead of creating three different LibGuides — individually authored by Sara, Amy, and Kate — Amy and Kate would simply add content to Sara’s pre-existing LibGuide, which can be seen above.
  • A session on using Acumen was integrated with the students’ normal schedule of library information sessions. In addition to two library sessions dedicated to general information literacy principle, focusing on resources and services available in Gorgas, Alabama’s general collections library, a third library session would be shared by Amy and Kate.
  • In that third library session, Amy would reiterate that in special collections, what is a primary source and what is a secondary source often is defined not by the inherent qualities of the item itself, but rather by the type of question that is being asked; ask students to model creating thesis statements from the sources they found rather than predetermining their argument and then finding primary and secondary materials that matched their ideas; and discuss what special collections is and what the strengths of UA’s repositories were. Kate would then discuss how to discover items in Acumen; lead a “search doctor” activity, showing students how to find materials by refining their searches; and outline the ways in which Acumen differs from popular browsers, such as Google.

Search Doctor, another example from Kate’s presentation

Now that Amy and Kate have taught all their sections of Honors First-Year Writing, we thought we’d take the opportunity to reflect on how this collaboration went, what we liked about the semester, and what we plan to do differently in the future.

Amy’s Perspective

Amy felt that this collaboration expanded the number of students the Division of Special Collections was able to reach. She appreciated that Kate was able to teach her — as well as the students from these sections — the ins and outs of searching Acumen. She was also thankful to Sara for creating such comprehensive and valuable LibGuides for the Honors FYW students and for organizing the scheduling and topics of the three library sessions offered.


Crimson White, downloaded from Acumen

In the future, Amy thinks that using the digital repository is an excellent options for students. She plans to advise professors that are interested in shorter or less challenging assignments that using the digital repository is a way to contain the “overwhelm” students feel when having to learn how to navigate a new type of library — online sources are simply more friendly to our tech-savvy students. However, she will continue to direct professors who are interested in having students get hands-on experience with our collections to come in to the reading room. What she’d like to do differently in the future is to include a learning module on how digital surrogates differ from physical objects and what is lost and gained in this translation. It might also be fun to create learning modules on digitized resources available at other institutions’ special collections repositories.

Kate’s Perspective

Kate thought the collaboration was a good way to introduce the students to primary source research, including digital surrogates. Though they would be using digitized materials, it was vital that they see it in the greater context of archival research, both for their current course and in general. Just teaching how to use the tool would not have been adequate; these students also needed to learn what makes special collections materials so special — challenging but rewarding. There was no better person to approach that aspect of the instruction than Amy.

The co-teaching model worked well. Not only did it put more friendly faces into the classroom, but it allowed us to shore up each other’s lectures with observations and commentary, keeping the mood more open and informal in a setting where there was not much time for extensive discussion. The presentation-heavy nature of the sessions was a bit of a drawback, but in the future it could be mitigated by providing some of the instruction by asynchronous means. Introducing concepts through more in-depth LibGuides, interactive tutorials, or videos before (and after) the session would leave class time for demonstration and practice.


Modeling collaboration

This kind of balancing act between covering the scope of the subject and providing targeted, assignment-based instruction is something the regular instruction librarians are well used to, so it was especially helpful to have Sara’s guidance. Not only could she help us keep sight of the big picture; she also facilitated the creation of our cooperative LibGuide, allowing us to draw on established content and spend our efforts contributing more specialized content appropriate to our focus. Brooke’s input into the session creation process was also invaluable as it gave us an outside perspective on the parameters of the session while simultaneously allowing us an insider’s look at the students, their aptitudes and needs.

Pedagogy Series 2: “In the Archives” themed Honors First Year Writing, Part I

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow, and Kate Matheny, IT Technical Specialist I


First Year Writing at UA

The Division of Special Collections and Digital Services collaborated to provide Honors First-Year Writing classes (English 103) with information pertaining to how best to search and discover material contained in Acumen, the University of Alabama’s digital repository.

Amy Chen, the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in charge of instruction in Special Collections, previously worked with Brooke Champagne, the Assistant Director of First-Year Writing, to provide Champagne’s students with the opportunity to use special collections holdings in their research during Fall 2013 and Spring 2014.Brooke’s project — and two of her students — were profiled on Cool@Hoole’s inaugural Pedagogy series over December 2013 and January 2014. Additionally, Brooke and Amy’s partnership over the 2013-2014 academic school year became the subject of a forthcoming article for Kate Theimer’s edited volume on pedagogy for her series on Innovative Practices in Special Collections and Archives.

But when Brooke and Amy decided to broaden their concept of introducing first year students to archival research to all honors first year sections during Fall 2014, rather than the one or two sections they previously targeted in the previous year, they had to redefine their learning objectives. The Division of Special Collections does not currently have the reference or instruction staff to provide in-depth research assistance to so many students simultaneously. After all, these sections are only one set of students the Division serves; we also work with students from ten other schools and departments! For this reason, Amy and Brooke decided, with the help of First-Year Experience Librarian Sara Whitver, to have students browse digital surrogates instead.


Acumen interface

Using digital special collections did take away students’ ability to interact with objects from history directly and to learn the process of researching in a special collections environment; however, using digital surrogates allowed more students to have training on how to access these unique materials and integrate them into their current and future research projects; plus, using Acumen would allow students to work in their own time from the comfort of wherever they had internet access. Now, students would not have to learn what they could — and couldn’t — bring into the reading room or the difficulties involved in searching through an unprocessed collection.

Changing course to include Acumen, rather than a trip to the reading rooms of either the W.S. Hoole Library in Mary Harmon Bryant or the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection in Gorgas Library, meant that Amy needed to contact Kate Matheny, Outreach Coordinator for Digital Services, the unit of the University Libraries dedicated to digitizing special collections material and maintaining the infrastructure of Acumen. Kate would be the best person to teach students how to use Acumen since she and her colleagues were the ones charged with building and maintaining it.


Example slide from Kate’s presentation

Thankfully, Kate agreed to teach these students how to use Acumen and collaborate with Amy, Brooke, and Sara. So, during the summer of 2014, the four of us met to determine the best way to approach the coming semester. Check back on Tuesday to learn what we decided to do!



Slave Reward broadside from 1833

By: Ashley Bond, SLIS graduate student


Slave reward broadside from 1833 (MSS.3761)

The University of Alabama Division of Special Collections acquired the “Reward Broadside for Runaway Slaves” this year from the William Reese Company’s collection of Americana.

This 1833 broadside is significant in the early history of Alabama printing, which began in the state in 1807 and became more common only after the first Huntsville newspaper was established in 1816. Broadsides traditionally were used as temporary flyers to quickly communicate information to the public and often served as an additional means of income to colonial printers. Because of their disposable nature, broadsides are rare documents today, and this specific reward broadside is the only known copy in existence.

The document begins by offering a twenty-five dollar reward to anyone who can locate Ned, a slave of Isaac Murray of Monroe County, East Tennessee, who ran away on March 12, 1833. Ned is described as being a slim, twenty-three or twenty-four-year-old man about five feet tall with a very light complexion and a very flat foot. He was last seen wearing a blue broadcloth coat, white cotton pantaloons, and a chipped hat along with various other garments not described. He is believed to have run away with Jeremiah Lillard’s slave Fountain, a dark-skinned, nineteen-year-old man of both white and black descent. The two traveled by canoe from Rhea County down the Tennessee River, left the canoe at Ross’s, continued over Lookout Mountain, and then obtained another canoe to travel down the south side of the river. The writer believes Ned and Fountain intended to reach Illinois and urges men traveling by boat to keep watch for the pair. Isaac Murray offers to pay reasonable expenses incurred in addition to the reward amount if the person who finds the runaway slaves delivers them to Murray or securely to a jail where they may later be obtained. The broadside is dated for April 9, 1833 on the same line as Isaac Murray’s name. A postscript at the bottom includes his name as well and asks that any letters containing additional information on the subject be forwarded to Florence A. within ten or twelve days or after to Madisonville, Monroe County, East Tennessee.

The print “Fariss, printer…..Advocate Office, Huntsville” at the very bottom center of this broadside indicates that it was printed by Dandridge Fariss (May 15, 1800 – June 30, 1887) at the Advocate Office in Huntsville, Alabama. Fariss was a printing apprentice at the Intelligence Office in Petersburg, Virginia until 1816. From there he moved to Tennessee and later to Huntsville, Alabama in April 1818, where he was a member of city legislature and a librarian. In 1823, he established the periodical the Alabamian, which later became the Southern Advocate in 1825. He retired from the publication in November 1837.

Halloween updates from Rare Book Cataloging

By: Allyson Holliday, W.S. Hoole Library Complex Copy-Cataloger

In the spirit of the season… there’s something for everyone in the Division of Special Collections! Whether it’s skeletons, haints, headless horsemen, witches, or demons, we have your interests covered.

For skeletons: take a look at Hollick’s Outlines of anatomy and physiology  published in 1846. This text features a “dissected plate” of human anatomy and is extra special due to the signature on the front flyleaf from Thomas A. Cooper. Cooper was a distinguished actor and is recognized as America’s premier tragedian. Cooper was born in London in 1776 and found great success on the London stage as Hamlet and Macbeth. He would later travel to America and make appearances in the theatre scenes of Philadelphia, New Orleans, Boston, New York, and cities in-between from 1796 until his death in 1849. His repertoire included 2,671 performance nights including 37 leading roles from Shakespeare’s plays (Smith, 299).

dissected plate

Dissected plate of Anatomy and Physiology, Hoole Library Rare Books Collection QM31 .H7

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