Rachel A. Snell is an independent scholar with interests in public history, material culture, and food history. She completed a doctorate in history at the University of Maine and specializes in nineteenth-century North America, women’s history, and food studies. Her research uses recipes and other food writing to examine the lived experience of domesticity in the nineteenth century. A Maine native, she also earned her BA in History at the University of Maine in 2006. She completed an MA in Early American History at the University of New Hampshire in 2008. In the spring of 2016, she earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of Maine. Her research traces the transformation in the practice and meaning of women’s household labor in the northeastern United States and Ontario in the mid-nineteenth-century.
Her current book project scrutinizes printed sources related to the household as well as manuscript recipe collections to better understand the lived experience of domesticity and to challenge the dominance of published, prescriptive ideology for the study of nineteenth-century women. Women’s interaction with the expectations of domesticity, preserved through the compilation of manuscript recipe collections and the annotations in printed texts, reveals the ordinary practice of domesticity and provides the researcher with invaluable clues about how women navigated sweeping changes in domestic ideology. Recipes and cookbooks demonstrate how women conformed to, negotiated with, and resisted the expectations placed upon them by domestic ideology.
Rachel has ten years teaching experience at the University of Maine in the Department of History, the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program, and the Honors College. She has been active in public history and digital humanities initiatives, including editorial and curatorial work for the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, the Recipes Project blog, and at the University of Maine.
Outside of her academic work, she enjoys cooking, knitting, and running. She lives in Falls Church, Virginia with her family.