"The Johnson Family Treasury is a superb collection of previously unpublished English cookery and medicinal recipes, some dating back as far as the 1740s. Thanks to the research of those who annotated this manuscript for publication, the book also gives us deep insight into the daily lives of its multiple authors. In addition, it makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of British, Canadian, and American culinary history. Congratulations!"

 Andrew F. Smith, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America

  • ​​​Original manuscript is held in the Una Abrahamson Collection, Archives and Special Collections, University of Guelph
  • ​ISBN: 978-177244-008-9
  • Price $34.95
  • 8 x 10, 252 pp
  • 201 b/w reproductions; 199 transcriptions (plus 5 newspaper reproductions)
  • 3 indices
  • Preface by Lynette Hunter
  • Introduction by Nathalie Cooke
  • Introduction to the Transcribed Receipts by Erin Yanota

​More Information on The Johnson Family Treasury ...

Introduction by Nathalie Cooke; Preface by Lynette Hunter

​​​​This collection of recipes for remedies, foods, and household products (such as many elite/privileged households in the English-speaking world collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) provide a fascinating glimpse into household technology, domestic medicine, and new foods available to the middle classes in an age of expanding colonialism. The treasury is organized as facsimile copies alongside transcriptions, allowing readers to see the original pages and familiarize themselves with the different and very beautiful handwriting in the manuscript. (Sample.) Recipes on each page also appear in typescript so contemporary readers can quickly find information about ingredients and method of preparation.

This treasury represents the collected knowledge of a coterie of women descended from the Johnson family. In the days before women’s magazines became a popular source of information, the span of knowledge here is impressive: recipes include everything from pea soup to more fanciful “floating islands,” as well as wines made from sage, damsons, cowslip, ginger, orange, cherries, currants, lemons, and raisins (plus several cures for hangovers). Equally fascinating are the remedies covering a wide range of health problems, from “wind in the stomach” to worms, scurvy, and cancer.

In her introduction, Nathalie Cooke reveals how the receipts in this Treasury—most in their original handwritten form, some clipped from newspapers or embellished by handwritten notes —each tell a story. 

The Johnson Family Treasury

​A Collection of Recipes and Remedies, 1741-1848

A beautifully annotated new edition of
A Receipt Book of Mrs Johnson 1741/2.

The Johnson Family Treasury is the sort of manuscript recipe book that culinary historians are most grateful for, filled with clear, detailed recipes for a range of period dishes, most of which appear actually to have been cooked in the writers’ households, not merely copied and forgotten. While many of the recipes are similar to—indeed a few are virtually copied from—published recipes, the book also contains many recipes not seen in print. Although the bulk of the culinary recipes were written down between 1741 and around 1770, they are rooted in the early 18th century, a lovely moment in elite English cookery, when the Italian and French influences of the Renaissance and Baroque had been fully naturalized.

It was also a time of British colonial expansion to the East, which ushered into English cuisine sophisticated ketchups and pickles of mushrooms, walnuts, oysters, and curried vegetables, all of which are well represented in the manuscript. And, lest we forget “good English cooking,” that most English of dishes, pudding, makes multiple mouth-watering appearances in the Johnson family’s book. These recipes are not merely for culinary historians. The faithful transcriptions make it possible for any adventurous cook to try his or her hand at bringing them to life in a contemporary kitchen. The project is sure to be deliciously rewarded.

Stephen Schmidt, principal researcher and writer, The Manuscript Cookbooks Survey


"The Johnson Family Treasury was compiled by multiple members of a family over a century. It is brilliantly interpreted here by its editors. Begun in England in the early 18th century and added to for a century, its culinary and medical information carried medical and dietary theories of Galen and Paracelcus to Canada. This exemplary publications will a treasure for those who study the history of women, of medicine, and of cooking."

Barbara K. Wheaton, food historian, writer, and honorary curator of the culinary collection at theSchlesinger Library, Radcliffe College

"The Johnson Family Treasury is indeed a treasure, for it so clearly illustrates that women of the time were responsible not only for feeding their families but also for treating the medical ailments that regularly occurred in their households. We are fortunate that this manuscript survived and is now available in this excellent facsimile volume."

Barbara Haber, Food Historian, author of From Hardtack to Home Fries: An Uncommon History of American cooks and Meals