Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Maine
Website URL
recipes, cookbooks, domesticity, sociability, women, nineteenth-century, twentieth-century, sustainability, food history
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Rachel Snell is a Lecturer in the Honors College at the University of Maine, and formerly the Curator of Collections at the Mount Desert Island Historical Society. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maine History Department in 2016 and her MA in Early American History at the University of New Hampshire in 2008. Dr. Snell is a specialist in nineteenth-century North America, women’s history, and food history. In her research, she argues that food and food writing present a richly rewarding lens for understanding the experiences of ordinary women. She believes this vantage point also holds great potential for engaging students with the study of the past. Cooking and eating are mundane tasks few pause to critically consider, but for people of most times, places, ethnicities, and races, these tasks form the foundation of their identities. She has developed courses that explore these themes including Food and the Shaping of American Identity (HON 333) and Food, Femininity, and Feminism in American Culture from Amelia Simmons to Martha Stewart (WGS 301/HTY 398). She regularly teaches in the first year of the Civilizations sequence for the Honors College (HON 111 and 112) and upper-level courses related to her research.

Dr. Snell’s current book project, “The Place of Happiness”: Recipes, Cookbooks, and the Negotiation of Domesticity in Anglo-America, 1830-1880,” examines printed and manuscript recipe collections to reveal the negotiation of domestic ideals and the role of recipes in defining the home as a social sphere. Her next project will explore Maine community cookbooks as windows into the eating habits of early twentieth-century Mainers at a critical juncture as local and homemade eating habits gave way to nationalized and commercialized food choices. This research will provide a sense of the development of a Maine food identity in the mid-twentieth century and, perhaps, provide insight into how to eat sustainably in the present. One of the first steps to eating sustainably is revisiting foodways before the invention and widespread acceptance of processed foods.

Recent Publications

“‘God, Home, and Country:’ Women, Historical Memory, and National Identity in English Canada and the United States,” (forthcoming June 2018, American Review of Canadian Studies).

Favorite Recipes: Relationships Past and Present in the Pages of a Regional Community Cookbook,” Chebacco: The Magazine of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society XIX (2018), 43-49.

“The Sabine Women Re-Imagined: Women and the Power of Persuasion in the Early National Peace Movement,” Maine History 51, no. 1 (2017), 63-82.

“As North American as Pumpkin Pie: Cookbooks and the Development of National Cuisine in North America, 1796-1854,” Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures 5, no. 2 (2014),

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
North America
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Food History, Gender, Local & Regional, Material Culture, Museums, Public History, Rural & Agrarian History, Women