Culinary Archive Donated to University

Jan and Dan Longone's gift makes UM a "national leader"

Longtime Ann Arbor residents Jan and Dan Longone have donated over 20,000 documents in culinary history to the University of Michigan.

Jan Longone

Jan Longone, giving remarks at a June 8 reception: "Culinary history is a subject worth studying and fighting for." (Photos by the writer.)

At a June 8 reception at the Hatcher Graduate Library in front of more than 200 guests, UM provost Teresa Sullivan accepted the donation on behalf of the university, saying that the Longone collection turned UM into a “national leader” in this “emerging field of scholarship.”

Sullivan noted that the archive extends far beyond collections of recipes, and provides valuable insights in such areas as the study of gender roles, regionalism, health, diet and cultural identity.

The Clements Library will house the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive, as the collection is formally known. Kevin Graffagnino, the library’s director, said that the “groundbreaking donation … vaulted the Clements into the forefront of culinary history.”

In remarks during the June 8 reception, Jan Longone said she had long believed the new field “was a subject worth studying and fighting for.” She is also curator of American Culinary History at the Clements.

In 2007, the New York Times called Jan Longone “the top expert on old American cookbooks.” For decades, she has operated the Food and Wine Library from her westside Ann Arbor home, purchasing and supplying ephemera of culinary history to international collectors and culinary luminaries.

Chemistry Professor Emeritus Dan Longone, whose specialty is wine history, also donated numerous items from his collection to the archive.

The Hatcher’s Audubon Room will display four documents from the archive through June 28.

Dan and Jan Longone

Dan and Jan Longone, by the some of their collection's rarest books.

One of those items, Malinda Russell’s 39-page “Domestic Cook Book,” is the only known copy of the first cookbook written by an African-American, published in 1866 in Paw Paw, Michigan. The Longones’ sleuthing to track down its author and background was the subject of the 2007 Times article.

Also on exhibit is “Tractatus de Vinea,” published in 1629, which the Longones describe as “the most significant 17th century book on wine,” covering topics from grape-growing and vinification to commercial and legal considerations surrounding wine.

About the author: Joel Goldberg, an Ann Arbor area resident, is editor of the MichWine website. His Arbor Vinous column for The Chronicle is published on the first Saturday of the month.