Cookbook collector extraordinaire Janice Bluestein Longone has died at age 89

Janice Bluestein Longone, an antiquarian bookseller whose collection served as “an unparalleled repository of culinary history,” died on August 3 in Michigan at the age of 89. Longone’s collection of cookbooks, menus, and culinary ephemera was housed at the University of Michigan’s Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.

A few years ago we wrote about one of Longone’s most treasured pieces, the only known original of ‘A Domestic Cook Book’ published in 1866 by Malinda Russell (pictured above). It is the oldest known cookbook authored by an African-American. “When it came in, I almost passed out,” Mrs. Longone told the Detroit News in 2020. “I was astonished: Here was a book nobody had ever heard of — and I had the only copy of it! I thought, ‘This is probably one of the most important books in America.’ ”

Longone’s quest to collect cookbooks,  menus, pamphlets, labels, posters, and product advertisements stemmed from her intense personal curiosity about American cuisine. In addition to collecting and selling rare and antique cookbooks, she wrote a column for Gastronomica magazine called “Notes on Vintage Volumes,” and also contributed to “The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.”

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