Our New Year’s Resolution: More Searchable Recipe Manuscripts

The year 2019 ended with some exciting news. Six new recipe manuscript transcriptions have now been vetted and uploaded into LUNA’s Folger Manuscript Transcription Collections.  This now makes recipes from 49 different manuscripts made searchable thanks in part to the transcription help of EMROC and its members.

Most notable is the quick availability of Folger Manuscript V.b.400, which we hope rings a bell.  MS V.b.400 was the subject of 2019’s fifth international transcribathon. Over three hundred unique transcribers brought the seventeenth-century collection to transcription conclusion on November 7.  Within a month, through the herculean vetting efforts of Nicole Winard, Bob Tallaksen, and Sarah Powell, the manuscript was made ready for uploading into the database.  Finally, Emily Wahl, Folger Metadata Librarian, added the transcriptions to the ever-growing collection of searchable pages. Those who have encountered the anonymous manuscript do not need to be told of its unique character, and the hope is that its presence within the LUNA collection will further illuminate its position within recipe book history.

A chart of “medicinall characters” found in Folger V.b.400, fol. 21

Even though EMROC did not have a hand in their transcription, there’s much to be excited about in the other five manuscripts as well. Folger MS V.a.396, the recipe collection of Penelope Jephson Patrick from 1671, has long been in the Folger’s possession and has added interest as the compiler’s husband would become Bishop of Ely in 1675.  Folger MS V.a.397 was compiled by a woman named Katherine Brown in the mid-seventeenth century and contains a prayer to be recited by someone who is ill. MS W.a. 317 is an anonymously compiled eighteenth-century cookbook that contains several Indian recipes, and V.a.125 is a verse miscellany compiled by Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, that includes many pages of receipts. Finally, Folger Manuscript W.a.318, Cookery and medicinal recipes, was compiled by Dorothy Pennyman in the eighteenth century.

The variety represented within and between these various collections is seemingly limitless. Our hopes for 2020 are that new doors into historical recipes research will continue to open and that we may continue to point to the potentials here.


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