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Introduction to the Collections
The New York Public Library's 26,000-piece historical menu collection is held by the Rare Books Division. Strongest for the period 1890-1920, the collection is for the present arranged chronologically only. Further details and information about access may be obtained at the Information Desk in the General Research Division's Reading Room. Some secondary sources on menu design will be found in the Art and Architecture Collection.
A printed finding aid, an inventory of the boxes in the collection, is available at the Rare Books Division desk and the General Research Division information desk. To find specific hotel or restaurant menus and to identify menus in foreign languages please consult the Menu Collection Database.
Using the Menu Collection
Access to this special collection is granted to readers who have identified specific menus that they wish to consult.
Readers must register with the Special Collections Office (Room 316) in order to use the Menu Collection which is serviced through the Rare Books Division, Room 328, Humanities and Social Sciences Library.
Call slips must be submitted 24 hours in advance. Readers may request up to four menus per day.
Photocopying of Rare Books material is prohibited. Readers who require professional quality photographs or digital images can order reproductions through the Office of Photographic Services & Permissions.
Search the Menu Collection Database
Database Contents and Searchable Fields
The database contains 26,000 records describing individual menus. Menus are available in the Rare Book Division.
To find out more about access to the Menu Collection please read Using the Menu Collection.
DATE: given as year/month/date/
EVENT: Type, e.g. Breakfast for Admiral Dewey.
SPONSOR: The sponsoring group or organization for the meal, e.g. City of New York; the host location such as a restaurant or hotel.
PLACE: City and state, e.g. Claremont Hotel, New York, NY
OCCASION (list of the abbreviations)
VENUE (list of the abbreviations)
ORGANIZATION (list of the abbreviations)
Size (expressed in inches, to the next ¼ inch, with
fractions indicated decimally, width x height, e.g. 5.5x8.)
NOTES: Other noteworthy characteristics may include: a language other than English; "Includes wine list"; "decorative border of fruits and flowers," or information about the cover illustration or its subject.
KEYWORDS: Other search terms to retrieve menus by personal or corporate name, the subject of cover illustrations and designs.
We would like to thank our volunteers Florence Bredhoff, Ruth Butterly, Rita Capek, Millie Delahunty, Kathe B. Dyson Shirley Glaser, Barbara Hansen, Hanako Imaizumi, Catherine Ortiz, Trudy Reitz, Jane A. Williams and others, who made this database possible by creating individual records for the items in the menu collection.
Indexes and Research Guides
The Library has several items which are useful when researching the Menu Collection, and for menu research in general. Some items relevant to the New York Public Library's Menu Collection include:
You may find the following NYPL research guides helpful in your research:
To expand your scope search CATNYP using the following, related subject headings:
Other subject headings related to cuisine and culinary history are:
To find more books on menus, menu collecting, menu design, and other related items a great place to start is CATNYP, the Research Libraries Online Catalog. Begin by searching under the following subject headings:
Selected Internet Sites
For those who wish to do research on the Internet for menu collections, the following sites are helpful:
Where to Go for Additional Information
Other menu collections in the New York City Area are listed below. Please contact the institution directly.
Culinary Institute of America, Conrad N. Hilton Library
Selected Internet Sites