NYPL Exhibitions

Origins of the Menu Collection

On New Year’s Day in 1900, Miss Frank E. Buttolph, a frequent user of the Astor Library, had an inspired idea. “I stopped in the Columbia Restaurant for lunch and thought it might be interesting to file a bill of fare at the Library,” she wrote afterward. “A week later the thought occurred, why not preserve others? As a result, 930 have passed through my fingers to the Astor Library.” In 1911 the Astor Library became one of the founding collections of The New York Public Library, and today Miss Buttolph’s brainchild has become a still-growing archive of some 45,000 menus, one of the largest such collections in the world.