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CIA Menu Collection

Digital Menu Collection

Search full-text of over 5,000 historical menus

We have been working hard to build our new CIA Digital Collections site and 5,000 historical menus are now fully searchable.  In addition to pertinent metadata, such as location and date, the full-text of every menu can be searched.  Do you want to find artichokes listed on menus from the 1930s? No problem!  Go to, click on Menu Collection, then Advanced Search.

Selections from the CIA Menu Collection are also part of  Hudson River Valley Heritage, a collaborative project providing online access to materials from digital collections of colleges, libraries, archives, historical societies, museums, and cultural organizations in the Hudson Valley.

Search Tips

If you have any problems using the digital menu collection, please do not hesitate to contact us.  Also, remember that only a small percentage of our menu collection has been digitized and put online.  So if you don't find what you are looking for, please contact the Archives and we can search the rest of the collection.

Start all searches from the menu collection landing page.

Use the search box to perform quick searches on the menu metadata or on the transcripts.

  • Metadata is the information we record about each menu (title, date, location, etc.)
  • The transcripts include every word on the menu so that every dish can be searched.

Click on Advanced Seach to perform more complicated searches and to get more precise results. For all advanced search options, check only the CIA Menu Collection box and click Save.

  • Select the field you would like to search.
  • Type the search term in the box.
  • Chose ALL, ANY, EXACT, or NONE from the last drop-down box. [Hint: most of the time, you will use AND]
  • Click Search. (Hitting Enter will not work here--unfortunately!)


Title - The title is taken directly from the menu and may include the name of the restaurant, name of event, and type of meal. It is recorded in the language of the menu, so if you search for lunch in this field, your results will not include french menus for dejeuner!

Menu Number - Every menu is assigned a unique number (a number dash another number). If you are looking for a specific menu and you know the menu number, type it here.

Restaurant - This field includes the name of the establishment serving the meal, even if it is not a restaurant, per se. (i.e. hotels, nightclubs, coffee shops, etc. are all listed in this field)

Description - This field contains a text description of the menu. which should include the name of establishment, location, date, event name, etc. This is a good place to search exact dates.  Search for only year, or, spell out the month (eg. April 14 1955). Also, this is a good place to search for the type of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, etc.)

Subject - Examples of subjects include: Restaurants, Hotels, Nightclubs, Events (for special event menus not daily menus), Holidays, etc.

Type of menu - This field records if it is an a la carte menu or a set menu and if there is a drink or wine list. Use these terms:

  • A la carte menus
  • Set menus
  • Drink lists
  • Wine lists
  • Children's menus

Many menus will contain more than one of these terms.

Decade - This is a great field to use if you are searching for menus for a specific time period.  Enter as a decade with an s on the end-- i.e. 1890s, 1930s, 1910s, etc.

Personal Name - This field includes names of chefs, honorees, artists, etc. Note that the chefs for most menus are not known, so search by the restaurant name instead.

Corporate Name - This field includes names of organizations, railroad companies, societies or clubs, etc.

City - if you are searching for all menus from New York City, use this field (search for New York)

State - If you are searching for only menus from California, use this field (spell out the state name).

Country - If you are searching for only menus from France, use this field.

Digital Collection - Most menus are part of the "Historical Menus" digital collection. However, if you are searching for only international (non-US) menus, type in International; if you are searching for only menus from CIA restaurants, type in Culinary.


Donor - If you know the donor, type any part of the name.

Transcript - This field contains the text of the menu.

The Culinary Institute of America | Conrad N. Hilton Library | 1946 Campus Drive | Hyde Park, NY 12538-1430
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