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Two Hundred Years of Charleston Cooking


First published in 1930 as 200 Years of Charleston Cooking, this collection of 307 recipes was gathered by Blanche S. Rhett, edited by Lettie Gay, and included an introduction by Helen Woodward. It was updated in 1976 with a revised title, Two Hundred Years of Charleston Cooking, and a new foreword by Elizabeth Verner Hamilton.

Blanche Rhett gathered these recipes from housewives and their African American cooks in Charleston, South Carolina. The recipes were full of family secrets, but they did not translate well into recipes because they lacked precise measurements. With encouragement from Helen Woodward, Blanche Rhett engaged Lettie Gay, who was the director of the Home Institute at the New York Herald Tribune, to do most of the work of interpreting, testing, and organizing the recipes into this book.

In a new foreword, Rebecca Sharpless, professor of history and author of Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865–1960, provides historical and social context for understanding this groundbreaking book in the twenty-first century.