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State's food heritage preserved at Briggs Library

South Dakota cookbooks are being collected by the SDSU Archives.
The SDSU Archives is collecting South Dakota community cookbooks to digitize and add to Open PRAIRIE. As part of the project, Briggs Library is hosting a program about the cultural impact of food and cooking in South Dakota on March 28.

Goulash, chislic, jello salad – those family recipes you grew up with are finding a home online.

Briggs Library is collecting South Dakota cookbooks to digitize and add to the institutional repository, Open PRAIRIE. Cookbooks compiled and distributed by South Dakota schools, churches, families and other community organizations are being accepted by Archives and Special Collections.

The seed for the South Dakota Community Cookbook Collection began with an offhand suggestion of the idea from Vice President for Information Technology and Safety Mike Adelaine. Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Michele Christian found a lot of excitement for the concept among her staff, and the project got rolling this summer. Since then, Archives has received nearly 200 donated cookbooks, and that number continues to grow.

“It’s been going nice and steady. We get in a few dozen cookbooks a month, so we’re still in the collecting stage,” Christian said.

After cataloging the books and adding them to the Special Collections, library staff will seek permissions from the cookbooks’ creators and publishers. Then the materials will be digitized and included on Open PRAIRIE where they can be freely searched worldwide.

To tie in with the project, the library is hosting a presentation by Extension Nutrition Field Specialists Megan Erickson and Megan Jacobson called "Exploring the Food Culture of South Dakota" on March 28 at 7 pm. Erickson and Jacobson, who are registered dietitians, will teach attendees about the influences behind traditional South Dakota foods and provide a few recipes. The program is open to the public and will be in Archives on the third floor of the library.

With each cookbook collected, another element of South Dakota history is captured.

“We are a land-grant institution and part of our mission is to reach out into the community and exchange ideas,” Christian said. “These cookbooks preserve part of South Dakota’s heritage and culture.”

The Archives staff plans to work on the project as time allows. Cookbooks are expected to start going online by the end of May.

“There’s no end date. We’ll continue to collect for as long as people are willing to give,” Christian said.

Like the staff, people are enthusiastic to participate in the project, Christian said.

“Donors seem very excited about the possibility of having a cookbook online for anyone in the world to see,” she said.

Those interested in the South Dakota Community Cookbook Collection can email Archives at or or contact Christian at michele.christian or 605-688-5094.