My mother left me a cookbook that is the most amazing one I have ever seen. It is approx 1700 pages, the last pages are missing on my copy. I remember the cover, which is long gone, was green. It is definitely American as it has instructions for dressing American game. Also includes canning, preserving and pickling. As well as freezing, menus, diet patterns, a homemaker's handbook for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Also instructions on stretching the food dollar. So my question is how or where can I find out the name of this cookbook?

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    Old housekeeping guides like this are treasures! If it's old enough, there's a chance there is a digital copy online (or at least excerpts) -- have you tried web searches for sentences or phrases from some of the sections? – Erica Mar 22 '13 at 0:04
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    I don't know that there is any possible way to identity it positively from a description--the suggestion above is a good one. It does sound a lot like an early joy of cooking. Does it label its "best" recipes "Cockaigne"? – SAJ14SAJ Mar 22 '13 at 0:11
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    You could also search phrases in Google Books or even Amazon. Also, not sure how many of the first pages are missing, but there is often publisher info in small print a few pages back from the cover. Or take a picture of one of the first pages and post it. – derobert Mar 22 '13 at 0:36
  • I also think it sounds like some edition of the Joy of Cooking, although that's only about 500 pages IIRC. We really need something more specific. Try to name some of the more unique recipe or chapter names, maybe. – Aaronut Mar 22 '13 at 1:57
  • If it isn't one of the items in Project Gutenburg that Shaima mentioned, could you at least give us the various section headings / table of contents, so that we can attempt to match it against other cookbooks? – Joe Mar 22 '13 at 13:35

You can find online copies of such cookbooks in Project Gutenberg, in the cooking section. For example:

  1. The American Frugal Housewife, by Lydia M. Child
  2. The Golden Age Cook Book
  3. The Allinson Vegetarian Cookery Book, by Thomas R. Allinson.
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    If the book is online, a Google search for a phrase found in the book will often turn up the title. For instance, searching for "housekeepers in home departments of newspapers" yields "Vaughan's Vegetable Cookbook: How to Cook and Use..." – Wayfaring Stranger Mar 22 '13 at 14:48
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    I would not go and look through all the Project Gutenberg books by hand. Books there are out-of-copyright, which currently means that they were published before 1923. Most such books were published after that, they were especially popular shortly after WWII. Details like "green cover" (most books on Gutenberg were published before colored covers were common) and especially "freezing" (practically nobody had a home freezer before 1923) make me think that Project Gutenberg is the wrong address. – rumtscho Mar 25 '13 at 19:31

This follows the advice given in Steve's answer, except for a description of the book instead of the contents.

Since there probably aren't that many 1700-page cookbooks, I went to Google and looked up:

"1700 page" cookbook

The second hit was for a forum post at "The FAL Files" describing a book that pretty much matched your description. The book is called:

Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking

Published by J.G.Ferguson, it has a green cover and comes in either a 2-volume set, or a complete all-in-one book. The complete version is 1699 pages. You can find it on Amazon.


Choose some unique phrases from the book (things you don't expect to appear in many other books) and search for them (in quotes) in Google books. Look at the scanned pages in the search results and see if they match your book.

If that doesn't work, try a general google search, again with the phrase quoted. (If you're looking for an old cookbook and it's on the web, it's likely at Google Books or archive.org, but there are some other, smaller collections out there.)

If you get too many results, you can take a 2-3 of the chapter headings or phrases and do a search for the combination. You'll want to choose headings that you don't expect to both appear in many books. E.g.,

"Dressing Game" "Preserving and Pickling"

If an online search doesn't work, you could also try asking a librarian or bookseller who specializes in old cookbooks. They may know the book or have more resources to look it up.

  • The + doesn't do anything; double quotes are all you need to require an exact word or phrase. See the search operator help. – Cascabel Mar 24 '13 at 16:56
  • Hmm, you're right. Some other search engines use '+' in this manner, and I thought google did too, but looking at archive.org, it seems that + was only ever used to include "stop words" in a search. – Steve Mar 25 '13 at 17:17
  • It did also previously require a term to be matched exactly (not by a synonym/stemming variant) like double quotes do now, but Google essentially always requires all terms to be present unless it's confident it can safely drop them. All the misunderstanding around the + operator is part of the reason it was deprecated in favor of the double quotes; it was very frequently used incorrectly. – Cascabel Mar 25 '13 at 17:26

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