JJ Jacobson

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University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Special Collections Library
Curator, American Culinary History Collection
Short bio: 

As Curator of the American Culinary History Collection, I curate the library’s materials in the areas of food, cooking, and domestic life. These materials are held in the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.


I'm new to Special Collections, having arrived here in April 2013. From 2009 to 2013 I curated the JBLCA at the William L. Clements Library. I obtained my MSI degree from the UM School of Information and my B.A., in Philosophy, from UC Berkeley. My engagement with culinary history and associated subjects has its roots in my previous career as a chef and baker, an occupation that allowed me to observe first-hand the multitude of meanings people read into what they cook and eat.

Research summary: 

My responsibilities include:

  • developing, interpreting, and promoting the collection;

  • helping students, faculty, researchers, and others make effective use of it; and

  • identifying and setting priorities for cataloging, processing, conservation, and digitization of collection material.

I'm responsible for selecting and acquiring material in all formats, working with dealers, donors, and others in identifying and acquiring collection material; managing collection budgets and funds; developing and documenting policies and procedures; and planning and implementing collection-related projects.

I also answer reference questions and help researchers find materials (including books, manuscripts, personal papers, archival collections, and ephemera) on food and foodways, cooking and dining, gastronomy, domestic life and the management of the household, entertaining, etiquette, and related topics within & beyond the UM libraries. I  create subject guides and other aids to navigating the culinary holdings, create exhibits,  and give presentations on the social history to be found in culinary materials.