About the Kirschner Collection

About the Doris S. Kirschner Cookbook Collection

The Doris S. Kirschner Cookbook Collection is located at the University of Minnesota’s Magrath Library on the St. Paul campus. It contains more than 3,300 items including cookbooks, pamphlets, and recipes ranging in date from 1890-present. The collection was donated by Doris S. Kirschner in 1985 and is intended to be used by the public as well as the University community. Items from the collection cannot be checked out, but may be scanned or photocopied using equipment in the library.

Older materials from the collection have been digitized and are available online through the UMedia Archive.

About Doris S. Kirschner

Saint Paul native Doris Schechter Kirschner received her first cookbook when she was 17 years old. This gift from her brother sparked a lifelong interest in cooking and recipes.

Doris married Melvin Kirschner at 19 and they had three sons. When her sons were in school full time, Doris (“Do” for short) decided to pursue a Home Economics degree. A 1957 graduate from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, she was known for planning her dinner menus well in advance, spanning up to four months without repeating a meal. Nearly 40 years of her monthly menu calendars are held at the Minnesota Historical Society and a microfilm copy is available at the University of Minnesota’s Magrath Library.

Soon after Doris received her Bachelor of Science degree, she was diagnosed with lupus. When the lupus was in remission, she carried on her many activities, but when it was active, she was confined to bed. There she studied the cookbooks in her growing collection and clipped recipes from a large variety of magazines.

Through her husband Mel’s work as an engineer, the family lived in Europe for a while and traveled widely. During this time, Doris collected many books on international cuisine and studied Asian and Russian cookery long before it became fashionable. In an interview about the collection, Doris told a local newspaper that, in the Twin Cities, finding ingredients for ethnic dishes was something of a challenge, but she had the help of her then dressmaker and future culinary entrepreneur Leeann Chin in locating hard-to-find ingredients for Chinese dishes. Also, because the Kirschner family kept kosher, her library includes many volumes on Jewish and kosher cookery.

Although Mrs. Kirschner passed away in May of 2001, the collection continues to be a great resource supporting instruction and research in food science, nutrition, anthropology, and sociology while being available to the general public.

Svitak Dean, L. (1995, December 27). A readable feast. Star Tribune pp. T1, T4.
Vagstad, K. (2005, May 23) Transcription of a document derived from University of Minnesota Department of Food Science and Nutrition web page (1999, January 22).