October 21, 2018  

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Professor to Discuss Cultural Importance of Cookbooks over Potluck Meal

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Dr. Andrew Haley

The University of Southern Mississippi will host the lecture "It Takes a Cookbook to Raise a Village: Laurel, Mississippi and Community Cookbooks” by Southern Miss history professor Dr. Andrew Haley at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30 in room 123 of Cook Library on the Hattiesburg campus.
 
Haley’s lecture will focus on “The Laurel Cookbook” which was created in the early 1900s by Catherine Marshall Gardiner and the Women of St. John’s Guild in Laurel, Miss. The Gardiner family settled the lumber town in Jones County.
 
Gardiner created the cookbook after the 1890 economic depression when many lumber businesses went bankrupt. Rather than leaving town to start a new lumber company, Catherine and her husband George stayed to help make Laurel a special Southern city. “The Laurel Cookbook” would aid in developing Laurel into the progressive, cosmopolitan community for which Catherine dreamed.
 
“Although The Laurel Cookbook didn’t solve all the problems in the community, it did help bridge the gap between wealthy and poor, northern and southern, white and black,” Dr. Haley said. “It created a common language around food for everyone in the community.”
 
This lecture is part of Haley’s research, which began in the summer of 2014 with the birth of the Mississippi Community Cookbook Project.  With generous support from the College and Arts and Letters and a yearlong commitment from McCain Library and Archives to collect and digitize community cookbooks from Mississippi, Haley has been studying Mississippi’s unique culinary heritage. Several cookbooks with accompanying profiles of the communities that produced the cookbooks are available at http://mscommunitycookbooks.usm.edu. 

Haley and colleagues Dr. Wendy Atkins-Sayre and Dr. Dana Fennel are also developing essays, new recipes and other materials that will help scholars and the public make the most of the cookbook collection.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin with a potluck at 6 p.m. Several recipes from the Gardiner cookbook will be featured at the potluck for attendees to enjoy. Those interested in preparing something for the potluck can sign up online at http://bit.ly/1Q8Cdqp.

For more information, contact Jennifer Brannock at 601.266.4347 or e-mail jennifer.brannock@usm.edu.