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Archives and Special Collections

Information about The Culinary Institute of America's Archives and Special Collections housed in the Conrad N. Hilton Library, Hyde Park, New York.


Tober Exhibit Room

The Donald and Barbara Tober Exhibit Room is on the main floor of the Conrad N. Hilton Library. The exhibit room is open to the CIA community and to the public, Mondays through Thursdays 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM, Fridays 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM, and Saturdays 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Current Exhibit  

You Are What You [M]eat: The Culture of Meat in 19th - 20th Century America

December 15, 2017 -

Meat has been the centerpiece of the American meal since settlement. Abundant hunted game transformed into large, centralized feedlots; by the 19th century, the average consumption per capita exceeded 150 pounds, annually. Since the 19th century, meat has symbolized masculinity, good health, status, and a rugged environment. It was so desirable to have shaped the American landscape. Yet, at the same time, native peoples, having a long relationship with meat-animals were forced to relocate, health attitudes have shifted, and fear surrounding meat has inspired laws, and moral concerns impelled abstention.

This exhibit considers the cultural role of meat in American society, from the 19th century to the present. By examining various moments and spaces where consumed animals and their consuming humans meet, we seek to contemplate the aphorism, “you are what you [m]eat.”

This exhibit was researched and curated by students in the fall 2017 Food History class, part of the Applied Food Studies program at the CIA.

Past Exhibits  

Cooking up a Nation: [Im]migration & American Foodways

July 25 - December 13, 2017

Press release

Scholars have characterized The United States as a “melting pot,” “salad bowl,” and “kaleidoscope.” In all of these descriptions, food and foodways become part of the narrative. With the exception of Native Americans, all Americans left their home or descended from people who migrated here. Yet, the reasons why they came to America differed considerably. Some arrived by choice (immigrants), some by force (enslaved peoples), some because their very survival depended on it (refugees), and others didn’t move at all (but the nation’s border did, with westward expansion). Settlement patterns, reception when arriving in America, and maintenance of heritage impacted their food practices; this influence was not one-way, but also impacted the nation. This is the story of many people who helped shape what and how we eat in America.

This exhibit was researched and curated by students in the summer 2017 Food History class, part of the Applied Food Studies program at the CIA.

Sweet & Salty: Tastes of Cultural History

April 11 - July 19, 2017

Press release

Sweet and salty are the first two tastes that humans perceive after birth. Yet, more than part of physiology, the desire for sugar drove slavery and continues to impacts health, while salt was synonymous with wealth and economic prosperity. This exhibit considers the integral roles that both tastes have played in culture. It examines the many sweet and salty products that span in use from food preservation to religious salvation as well as technological changes that have shaped and changed our interactions with these products and, ultimately, our very taste.

The exhibit was researched and curated by the Spring, 2017 Food History class with Dr. Beth Forrest.


Fire in the Belly: Cultural Moments around the Hearth and the Table

December 16, 2016 - April 4, 2017

Press release

"Fire in the Belly" explores the intimate relationship among humans, food, and fire. In fact, anthropologists argue that it is fire that made us human, while historians look to fire as a part in forging culture. This exhibit looks at moments in history when flames, in part, created dishes and meanings.  Themes include religion, agriculture, cooking methods, gendered spaces, and a myriad of ways smoke and fire are harnessed in the dining room and for producing artifacts for cooking and eating.

This exhibit was researched and curated by the Fall, 2016 Food History class with Dr. Beth Forrest.

Food on the Move: Travel and Transportation

July 26 - December 9, 2016


The relationship between food and transportation is closely intertwined. With technological advances in ships, trains, automobiles, and planes, we see shifts in food access, culinary traditions, and attitudes toward eating while traveling.  From ancient trade along the Mediterranean on ships, to the refrigerated trucking industry across America, from the rise of luxury dining cars on trains, to exclusive meals on supersonic jets, the movement of food — and people who needed to eat while in transit — incorporate and reflect larger historical developments.  By looking at “food on the move,” we may also consider ideas regarding economics and politics, globalization and power, and aesthetics and taste.

This exhibit was researched and curated by the Summer, 2016 Food History class.

Giambelli's: A Celebration of Francesco and Mary Giambelli

June 17 - July 20, 2016

View online exhibit

Francesco Giambelli (1915-2006) was an immigrant from Voghera, Italy who lived the American dream. He and his wife Mary owned Giambelli 50th in New York City.  Known for their authentic Northern Italian cuisine and their gracious hospitality, the restaurant prospered for decades. The Giambellis lived upstairs from the restaurant – the restaurant was home and the staff was family. The Giambellis often dined alongside patrons but would get up from their meals to greet guests, suggest dishes, and make sure every diner was satisfied. The refined cuisine and the many dishes made table side, distinguished Giambelli 50th from other Italian restaurants and attracted such guests as U. S. Presidents, senior business executives, and, in 1995, Pope John Paul II. The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Collection was donated by the Francesco and Mary Giambelli Foundation, Inc. in 2014.

H2O ~ Water2Food

April 11 - June 15, 2016

H2O ~ Water2Food is an exploration into hydrohistory. Like water itself, the exhibit merges fluidly the local histories and ecology of the Hudson River into a larger consideration of the presence of water in how we eat and drink in North America. From the role of water in ancient civilizations to its seemingly banal place in the household, and from the Hudson River source at Lake Tear of the Clouds to its meeting with the Atlantic ocean, water is ever-present and always changing. In all its forms, uses, and locations, water is the basis of our ability to nourish ourselves with food.

This CIA student-organized exhibit was curated by Dr. Beth Forrest’s Food History class and Dr. Deirdre Murphy’s Ecology of Food class during the spring semester, 2016. Both classes are part of the CIA’s Applied Food Studies program.

From Grape to Glass: Wine Artifacts from the CIA Archives

February 8 - April 1, 2016

From Grape to Glass highlights tools and implements that describe the wine-making process from the vineyard to the table.  Included are rare artifacts such as leather treading shoes, cooper’s tools, a bung hammer, wine thieves and venencias, corkscrews, a drinking horn, and a wineskin. Wine lists from our menu collection supplement the display.

Because many of these artifacts are from the Julius Wile Collection, in the center cases we have highlighted his personal Cellar Master’s Record along with a journal and letters from his travels to European vineyards in 1938/1939 while apprenticing for the family importing business.

The historical origins of these artifacts are unknown, but we hope your imagination will place them in old vineyards and wine cellars surrounded by the mingling smells of grapes and wine barrels and the rowdy laughter of hard-working men and women who for many centuries worked only with their hands and simple tools to produce the wines that today we can only read about.

“Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man.” - Plato

Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World

December 3, 2015 - February 4, 2016

Press release

Foodways is the term used to describe all the practices related to the production and consumption of food in a culture, region or historical period.  This exhibit introduces the visitor to Dutch foodways in both the Old and New World.  Historical developments of colonialism, religion and technology from the 17th–19th centuries impacted Dutch foodways in ways in which food and culture intersected with large, theoretical issues that included economics, slavery, morality, and health. History changed both what and how people ate.

The images and material culture on display explore everyday life in the New Netherlands in the 17th century. Furthermore, they highlight iconic Dutch commodities, including spices, cheese, beer, gin, and chocolate.

This is the CIA’s inaugural student-organized exhibit. It was curated by LeeAnn Corrao, Applied Food Studies major, and Dr. Beth Forrest’s Food History class.

Supper under the Stars: Nightlife in American Restaurants, 1930s-1960s

August - November, 2015

View online exhibit

Menus tell stories and the menus in this exhibit tell a story of a time when restaurants were destinations for the evening, when dancing and music were as much a part of the restaurant landscape as the food, when stars like Frank Sinatra entertained guests who sipped cocktails and nibbled on their hors d'oeuvres. In the days and years after Prohibition ended there was no shortage of entertainment across the country, even during the darkest days of the Depression and World War II. Cabarets, nightclubs, supper clubs, and hotel roof gardens were some of the hottest places to spend an evening.  The sixty menus on display illustrate the intersection of food and culture across the United States, from New York City and its speakeasies to Miami Beach and its nightclub-hopping tour buses, from Detroit where celebrities were on layover between New York and Los Angeles to an infamous supper club in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Supper clubs, popular in the Midwest, are also represented, as are two interesting U. S. military nightclubs in Italy and Germany. All of the menus are from The Culinary Institute of America Menu Collection.

What Will You Have? Beverages in the 20th Century

April - July 2015

CIA Professor Doug Miller kicks off the 2015 CIA Beverage Symposium with this exhibit of his collection of paraphernalia representing beverages throughout the twentieth century. This unique display includes bottles, tools and implements, product packaging and advertising related to beverages--from beer and spirits, to soda and champagne.  Supplementing the exhibit are cocktail lists and books from the CIA Archives and Special Collections.

Selections from The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Collection

March 4 - April 9, 2015

Press release

The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Collection was donated by the Francesco and Mary Giambelli Foundation, Inc. in 2014.  Selections from this archival collection are on display for the first time in the Tober Exhibit Room. The exhibit showcases the popular New York City restaurant, Giambelli 50th, and notable events from the Giambellis careers.  Photographs, memorabilia, artifacts, awards, papers, and correspondence all contribute to depicting a generous couple and a restaurant that focused on gracious hospitality and service.

Good Living: Historical Recipe Pamphlets from the Special Collections of The Culinary Institute of America

October 2014 - February 2015

Press release

The Good Living exhibit showcases over seventy recipe pamphlets from The Culinary Institute of America’s special collection of 800 historical pamphlets.  The selection of material broadly illustrates American recipe pamphlets from the 1870s to 1970s and reflects trends in food advertising and consumption from the days of patent medicines, through both world wars, with the advent of the electric refrigerator, the introduction of convenience foods, and the increased accessibility of non-local produce.  The bright colors, clever slogans, images of happy consumers, and “interesting” recipes in these pamphlets encourage an entertaining as well as informative experience.

Handwritten Recipes by Famous Chefs from the Craig Claiborne Collection

March - September 2014

Press release

In September 1990, noted food writer, Craig Claiborne, celebrated his 70th birthday at the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo.  Many of the world’s greatest chefs attended—the New York Times called it “an international culinary exchange of tastes and ideas”—and in lieu of gifts, Claiborne requested that each chef give him a handwritten recipe.  These recipes, now part of The Culinary Institute of America’s archives, reflect the chefs’ own culinary traditions and preferences, as well as reveal the respected friendships between Claiborne and his guests.

A Selection of International Menus from the Bruce P. Jeffer Menu Collection

August - February 2014

Press release

The Bruce P. Jeffer Menu Collection was donated to the Culinary Institute of America in 2013. Bruce Jeffer, a California lawyer and wine connoisseur, began collecting menus during his travels as a child. This collection of 2,600 menus includes many international menus. This exhibit features menus from over 50 countries across 6 continents.


Library DIsplays

There are several displays on the main floor of the library that showcase materials from the Archives and Special Collections.

Current Displays  

Sunny Side Up: Breakfast Menus from the CIA Menu Collection

March 2018-

We hope you enjoy this interesting display of breakfast menus from the United States and other countries, including Mexico, Hong Kong, Columbia, Cuba, Chile, and India.  View more from our menu collection online or by visiting the Archives.

Menu selection and artwork by student archives assistant, Cara Amador, who loves making breakfast for other people.  Is there any better way to start the day?

Chocolate and Ice Cream Molds

June 2016-

Several chocolate and ice cream molds are on display.  They are on loan from CIA San Antonio; donated by Jenny Schimpff.

Past Displays  

Menu as Postcard, Menu as Souvenir: Restaurants and Tourism in Mid-Century America

September 2017 - January 2018

Click on the thumbnails to view examples of menus as postcards from the CIA Menu Collection:

El Prado London Chop House Melody Lane Cliff House Old Poodle Dog Jasper Park Lodge Tavern on the Green Missouri Pacific Lines

Menu as Postcard - It was not uncommon for restaurants around the country to produce menus with spaces for handwritten messages and stamps to mail to friends and family (or self).  The menu then could become a souvenir for diners – a memento not only of a meal but also of a trip – while simultaneously being an advertisement for restaurants – once mailed, a place to eat would became a remembered name, a representation of travel, and perhaps, a future destination.  Besides menus, restaurants also produced traditional postcards, matchbooks, paper napkins, swizzle sticks, etc. – all branded and meant to leave with the diner as souvenirs.

Menu as Souvenir - A menu is simply a list of dishes offered for sale to a diner.  As a souvenir, however, a menu becomes a two-dimensional representation of an experience, whether it is of the food, the company, or the travels – it is the possessor who adds that meaning, either in his mind, in the notes he writes on the menu, or in the stories he tells about it.

Air Conditioning and How We Eat: Mid-Century Restaurant Culture

June - July 2017

Just as refrigeration affected eating patterns as access to food changed, modern air conditioning changed dining patterns in American restaurants. Air conditioning began appearing in restaurants in the 1920s and became more commonplace after World War II. The increase of air conditioning use in restaurants not only improved conditions for restaurant diners and staff, but contributed to an increase in dining out and in tourism, especially during the warm summer months and in southern climates.  Along with movie theaters, restaurants and cafés became popular places to escape from the heat.  Also, not only did it help cool the air in hotter months, but it also removed stale air and food smells from the restaurant.

Women's History Month: Advice from Women Restaurateurs.

March - June 2017

Read first-hand advice from women who blazed their own paths in the restaurant business from the early 20th century to the present.  The display features historical menus from their restaurants and quotes from their published writings about being in the business.  Women include Alice Foote MacDougall, Luisa Leone, Eugenie Brazier, Cecilia Chiang, Sylvia Woods, Nathalie Moore, and Alice Waters.


1946: The Year in Menus; in celebration of the CIA's Founders Day

May - July 2016

1946. It was the year a small school named the New Haven Restaurant Institute was founded to train returning World War II veterans. It was the year 50 students and 3 faculty members first gathered in a small storefront building under the leadership of Frances Roth and Katharine Angell.   It was the year the CIA established itself as the “culinary center of the nation.” It was the year that set the rest in motion.  The menus are from the CIA Menu Collection.

Selling Italy: Tourism on Menus from Italy and the United States

March 31 - April 29, 2016

Bachelor student Matthew Roscoe created this exhibit of menus for his final project for Intermediate Italian.

Celebrating Women Chefs

February 17 - March 25, 2016

Historical menus from the restaurants of women chefs are on display in the library through Women's History Month. Chefs include Eugenie Brazier, Joyce Chen, Lydia Egloff, Rose Gray, Zarela Martinez, Agata Parisella, Nadia Santini, Susan Spicer, Elizabeth Terry, and Alice Waters.

Holiday Menus

December 2015

A special selection of Christmas and New Year's menus from the early 20th century will be on display through the holiday season. Stop by and see what foods were served during holidays past and if that much has changed.

E. M. Statler: The Man and His Legacy

October - November 2015; July - September 2017

Ellsworth Milton Statler (1863–1928) was born Wheeling, West Virginia. His first hotel job was as a bellboy at age thirteen.  In 1907, Statler opened his first permanent hotel, The Hotel Statler in Buffalo, New York. And the rest is history…  E. M. Statler revolutionized the hotel industry and is still known to this day as one of the greatest American pioneers of the hotel industry.
If you recognize any of the following features of modern American hotels, then you already are aware of Statler’s legacy:

    Private bathrooms and adjoining rooms.
    In-room telephones, writing desks and bed lamps.
    Hotel chains, standardization and uniformity.
    Comfort and affordability.

Statler was also the first hotel manager to offer health benefits and retirement plans to employees.

Bonjour, Paris!  Historical Paris Menus from the CIA Menu Collection

October 2015

Pretend for a moment that you are in the great city of Paris and enjoy les cartes historiques from some of the most famous restaurants in Paris, past and present. Included are menus from La Coupole (1933), Le Grand Véfour, La Tour d'Argent, Lasserre (1957), and Club des Champs Elysées (1940s). The earliest menu on display is from Restaurant Maire (1910) - a long forgotten restaurant where celebrated chef Auguste Escoffier worked for two months in 1884.

Handwritten Recipes by Famous Chefs

August - September 2015

These recipes, written for Craig Claiborne for his 70th birthday in 1990, are some of the most treasured items in the Archives and Special Collections.  There is only room to display a select few, so please visit the archives if you wish to see more. Read more about the recipes here.

Presidents on Trains: Menus from the CIA Menu Collection

June - July 2015

View menus online

Railroad travel was the main mode of transportation for Presidents starting in the 1830s and continuing through the 1950s.  The railroad gave Presidents access to all parts of the country where they gave speeches, spread their messages, and connected with the American people.

Curated by student Annelise Straw.


Online Exhibits

Holiday Menus

This online exhibit presents a selection of historical holiday
menus from The Culinary Institute of America Menu Collection. 

Read the press release.

Holiday Menus

Women in the Archives

Please enjoy exploring these selections that highlight women
and food from several collections in our Archives and Special
Collections. Read about two new exhibits on display in the
library. Scroll down the page to see highlights from the CIA
Menu Collection, the pamphlet collection, the college archives,
and more!

Women in the Archives

1946: The Year in Menus

1946. It was the year a small school named the New Haven
Restaurant Institute was founded to train returning World War II
veterans. It was the year 50 students and 3 faculty members
first gathered in a small storefront building under the leadership
of Frances Roth and Katharine Angell.   It was the year the CIA
established itself as the “culinary center of the nation.” It was
the year that set the rest in motion.  The menus are from the
CIA Menu Collection.

1946: The Year in Menus


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