Ethnic Food Ways Diaries

Course: Ethnic Influences on Nutrition (Dr. Sara Wagner)


  • Upper division science course with 50 students each semester
  • Students used diaries, letters, cookbooks, and oral histories to research historical food ways of Wisconsin; the events, ideas and circumstances that shaped food ways; and the ways food ways may have affected Wisconsin’s early immigrants
  • Recent versions of the assignment had the students conducting oral history interviews with older generations about food ways. The oral histories were added to the archival holdings.

In completing the assignments, the students often felt challenged, as they were required to research in a more hands-on way than they are accustomed to. Further, students received a much better in-depth and authentic understanding of Wisconsin food ways through this project as compared to a more traditional type of research assignment….As many will become further health practitioners and scientists, I am hopeful their work in the Archives has also sparked appreciation for the variety of ways that one might conduct valid research and think critically.”

Student sample:  “A Taste of Wisconsin”