Part of the Special Collections at the University of Denver’s Anderson Academic Commons, the Husted Cookery Collection consists of more than 9,000 books, magazines and pamphlets published over a span of 400 years, all about food and cooking. There’s more than inspiration for a special meal here. There is, in fact, enough material upon which to base a book.
The most recently published author to use the Husted collection is Denver writer Adrian Miller, who, about 10 years ago, set out to research traditional foods of the American South. He found the Husted Collection to be a treasure trove as he researched and wrote his book “Soul Food: the Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time” (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
In his pursuit to understand the history and evolution of African-American cuisine, Miller discovered that African-American cooks have shaped much of American cuisine, not just soul food. Miller had heard that the story of African-American food had not been well documented, but in the Husted Collection he found rare resources that helped trace the development of traditional black cooking and its impact on American cuisine. During a recent conversation, he recalled that the “Montana Federation of Negro Women’s Clubs Cook Book” and other books like it from the Husted Collection contributed to his comprehensive historical analysis. He also found historical newspapers, available via DU databases, to be valuable for their documentation of daily life.
A graduate of Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Colo., Miller attended Stanford University and Georgetown Law School. Among his various professional roles, he served in the Clinton White House and later worked for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, leading efforts to reduce childhood hunger. Currently, Miller focuses on social justice issues, interfaith dialogue and ecumenical work as the executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches.
Several authors have used DU’s Special Collections when researching their books, including Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright for their memoirs, Barbara Sternberg for “The Things That Last When Gold is Gone,” her biography of Anne Evans, and University Historian Steve Fisher, whose works include “University Park and South Denver” (2009), “A Brief History of South Denver and University Park” (2012) and the forthcoming “The University of Denver – A History.”
Miller and his book will be featured at a book discussion led by Chaplain Gary Brower in the Anderson Academic Commons from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 18. The event is open to the public, and reservations are appreciated but not required.