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Obituary

Janice Longone, chronicler of US culinary history, dies at 89

Jewish archivist found a love for cooking while at Cornell University, and established a huge culinary history collection at University of Michigan

Janice Longone, Curator of American Culinary History, holds up a book from the exhibit titled "The Old Girl Network: Charity Cook Books and the Empowerment of Women" at the University of Michigan Clements Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, September 5, 2008. (Alan Warren/Ann Arbor News via AP)
Janice Longone, Curator of American Culinary History, holds up a book from the exhibit titled "The Old Girl Network: Charity Cook Books and the Empowerment of Women" at the University of Michigan Clements Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, September 5, 2008. (Alan Warren/Ann Arbor News via AP)

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Janice Bluestein Longone, who is credited with collecting thousands of items chronicling the culinary history of the United States, including cookbooks, menus, advertisements, and diaries, has died at age 89.

Longone died Wednesday, according to Nie Family Funeral Home in Ann Arbor. The cause and location of death weren’t announced.

Longone grew up in a secular Jewish home in Boston, and developed an interest in cooking while in graduate school at Cornell University in the 1950s, according to a Tablet Magazine profile on her in 2013.

Longone’s collection formed the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where her husband, Daniel T. Longone, was a chemistry professor.

Longone said that she believed the collection showed how American agriculture and culinary practices defined regional customs and traditions. Her collection included cookbooks from the 1800s and early 1900s called “charity cookbooks” that were sold as fundraisers and immigrant cookbooks.

“Our hope is we have gathered materials that offer researchers access into a new way of looking at American history,” she said in a 2010 University of Michigan article. “That could be the rethinking of the role of women, who were publishing more than 150 years ago charity cookbooks, which often reflected the pressing issues of the day, or simply, the impact of refrigeration on American tastes and lifestyles.”

Janice Longone, who chronicled US culinary history. Date and location unknown. (Robert Chase/Ann Arbor News via AP)

The collection included early US cookbooks, such as one printed in 1796, one published by an African American woman in 1866, and a Jewish cookbook published in America in 1871, according to the university.

Longone’s activities as a culinary historian included being a founding member of the American Institute of Wine and Food, an author of entries for “The Oxford Companion to Food,” and hosting the National Public Radio show “Adventures in Gastronomy” in the 1970s.

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