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Largest Chinese Cookbook Collection in the United States

by Stony Brook University Press

Winter Volume: 2002 Issue: 9(4) page(s): 4

Dear Readers:

Thought you would want to see the following press release from the State University of New York at Stony Brook NY.

Jacqueline M. Newman Donates Over 7000 Items Valued AT $400,000

"Queens College professor and lifetime collector of Chinese cookbooks Jacqueline M. Newman donated her collection of more than 2600 English-language Chinese cookbooks to Stony Brook University. The largest English-language Chinese cookbook collection in the world, this donation is a valuable record of the Chinese Diaspora that has carried its rich cuisine to every corner of the world. In addition to the two thousand six hundred twenty-six cookbooks, Dr. Newman also donated archival materials, videos, CD-Roms, more than four thousand slides, twelve extensive sets of leading cooking magazines, one hundred seventy-five books on Asian foods and cooking and a collection of one hundred twenty-five Chinese herbal medicine books. The total donation of more than seven thousand items is valued at four hundred thousand dollars. "I hope that this collection does more than just produce interest in Chinese cuisine," said Dr. Newman, "because food is a lot more than cooking. I am looking to broaden the conceptualization of food because it has anthropologic, sociologic, cultural, historic significance, and more."

"I looked at several places for my collection and chose Stony Brook for a variety of reasons. Of course, I've known President Kenny for several years from Queens College, but the building of the new Charles B. Wang Center celebrating Asian and American cultures and the University's desire to build a major Asian studies program really convinced me," Dr. Newman said. "The fact that Stony Brook has a special collections area means that the books will be preserved in perpetuity and in the proper fashion." In addition to properly preserving the books, the Stony Brook staff will convert the existing annotated bibliography to a web-searchable database, thereby making some of the contents of the cookbooks known to the world.

Stony Brook University President Shirley Strum Kenny said, "This is as special as it is important to Stony Brook. It is a very important collection for understanding the Asian American community and it will help support our curriculum. It fits perfectly in our development of a comprehensive Asian studies center. This will be the nucleus for building very important surrounding collections." "Historians and social scientists are increasingly interested in daily life," said Kristen Nyitray, Head of Stony Brook's Special Collections, and "these cookbooks open a window on immigrant lives that otherwise remain hidden. We are honored and delighted that Dr. Newman has chosen Stony Brook as the repository for her significant collection."

Dr. Newman has collected Chinese cookbooks for about fifty years, ever since she got her first Chinese cookbook as a wedding present. Chinese cooking has since developed into her area of research and special interest. She wrote her Ph.D. thesis on changing Chinese food habits in New York City, is the editor and publisher of the quarterly magazine Flavor and Fortune that is dedicated to Chinese cuisine, in 1994 she edited Chinese Cuisine & American Palate: The Art & Science of Chinese Cooking, and she has published dozens of other books, chapters, and articles. "This collection is like a child to me," she said. "It is hard to part with it, but I know that it will be in excellent hands at Stony Brook."

In addition, for readers of this magazine and all others: If you have Chinese cookbooks and related ephemera, do send them to this magazine. We will see that you get an appropriate letter of thanks, which may make your contribution tax deductible. Should there be duplicates, they will either become part of Stony Brook University’s circulating collection, which the Jacqueline M. Newman cookbooks do not do, or they may be donated to another library. Thank you.

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