FOLK CULTURAL QUESTIONNAIRE: Pennsylvania Foods and Foodways

The late food scholar Dr. Don Yoder (1921-2015) considered himself an “incurable Pennsylvanian.” Born in Altoona, he became the iconic “father of American Folklife.” While he was editor of Pennsylvania Folklife, he published numerous questionnaires asking readers for particular types of information. Much of Dr. Yoder’s fieldwork was derived from enthusiastic laymen in the countryside, especially his eccentric and brilliant cousin Marion Cronister Mattern of Port Matilda, Pennsylvania. All of us have these special family relations who represent a rich well of information. Tap into your own family connections, start talking to cousins, give more meaning to the wonderful culinary heritage you never realized was there. Here is your assignment: fill out the questionnaire below and answer the questions as fully as possible. If you prefer, you can print out the questionnaire and mail your answers to the Keystone Center, Box 75, Devon, PA 19333. If you have questions about the survey please email them to The Keystone Center at We will try to publish online some of the more interesting responses, but we reserve the right to edit them to conform to our house style.

  • Townie, farmer, tradesperson, tavern keeper, baker, etc. We are interested in the varied economic backgrounds of our informants because this adds to the richness of your culinary story. For example, if your father was a beekeeper, tell us how honey played a role in your childhood food memories.
  • This does not have to be your mother. Aunts, grandmothers, cousins, and even men stood in for this important role. Explain how this person defined your early culinary life. Was there a dish that defined this person’s role?
  • We are interested in both the recipes and what you called them as well as the “source” from which they came. List them and then give us the recipes as best you can reconstruct them. Remember, we want to preserve your family traditions as much as you do.
  • For example, you knew you were Pennsylvania Dutch because members of the family spoke the dialect and cooked sauerkraut. But if you lived in Erie, what were the local signs that confirmed you belonged to that particular regional culture?
  • Please tell us about yourself

    (this information will be kept private)
  • The Keystone Center would look for funding to make such a project possible, thus fieldworkers could receive some kind of compensation yet to be determined. Thank you! We look forward to hear from you!
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