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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.

1. Select a Menu

Visit the Archives Reading Room to select a menu to transcribe. 

Because we don't want to eat or drink while working with materials from the Archives, today we will be transcribing from digital images.  All of the menus on the table have already been scanned. 

Once you select a menu, find its menu number and fill out the slip of paper provided. 

Find a computer and from the transcribe page, request your menu (see below).

2. Request Your Menu

3. Transcribing Instructions

Transcribing is recording exactly what is written (no translating or interpreting…) for the purpose of keyword searching the text of the menu in a digital collection.

  • Enter every word, in relatively the same order
    (Left to Right, Top to Bottom)
  • Formatting does not need to be exact, however a sense of similar order should be maintained
  • Try to use breaks to match the menu
  • No accent marks; no special characters  [any symbol on your keyboard is ok to use]
  • Use punctuation marks, capital letters, etc. as is on the menu
  • Keep prices (no need to keep the ellipses, though…)
  • Retain original spelling. (Spell exactly as written on the menu, even if it is wrong, even if the word is now commonly spelled differently.)
  • Also transcribe any handwritten notes (some will be illegible….do the best you can)



  1. Create a text file in Notepad—each page needs its own file.
    1. Start button -> Programs -> Accessories -> Notepad
  2. Save As 
  3. Save to DESKTOP (save as same file name as jpg except .txt instead of .jpg)
    example: menu_1-2345_001.jpg   SAVE TXT AS menu_1-2345_001.txt

4. Saving and Emailing transcriptions

Send us what you finished.  IT IS OK if you didn't transcribe the entire menu.

Email txt files to Nicole

OR Respond to the email with the jpgs

You may delete the jpg images when you are finished with them.


What is a Transcribathon?

A Transcribathon is a marathon when a group spends time together transcribing textual documents (in this case, menus).  Other colleges do it, too...

What is Transcribing?

Transcribing is recording exactly what is written (no translating or interpreting…) for the purpose of keyword searching the text of the menu in a digital collection.

Why do you need to transcribe the menus?

When we add menus to our digital collection, we make sure there is a transcription so that the menu is fully searchable. This way you can search for dishes--for instance, what is the earliest menu to list spaghetti?

In order to search this:                                                                                         We do this:



Will I be able to see some actual menus?

Absolutely. We will transcribe from jpgs but the actual menus will be in the Archives room for you to look at. Because we will have food and drinks, they will have to stay in the Archives room to be safe from spills and sticky hands :)

Can I stay for only a little while?

Yes, stay for as little or as long as you would like!

How will I know what to do?

We will provide introductions, instructions, and we will be here the entire time to answer questions!

I don't type well.

Don't worry about it!  I'll even show you some shortcuts so it won't be as much typing!

I still don't understand...

No problem!  Come anyway and we'll tell you everything you need to know.  Or give me a call or shoot me an email. (845) 451-1270

I'd be happy to answer any of your questions!


The Details

Join us in the Archives on Thursday, March 7, 2024 for a marathon of transcribing historical menus from the CIA Menu Collection. 

Stop by to look through old menus and we'll get you started transcribing in no time!   There will be snacks and games, too!

What:     This season's menu transcribathon will feature select menus from the CIA Menu Collection.  The event is hosted by the Archives to help the ongoing digitization of our menu collection - so that all menus can be accessed anywhere by anyone!

When:    Thursday, March 7 from 4:00 to 10:00 pm. (stay for as little or as long as you would like!)

Where:  Archives & Special Collections, Hilton Library (main floor)

Who:      Everyone is welcome!

Questions: Contact Nicole Semenchuk at or stop by the Archives!


Game Instructions


For the grand prizes we will be asking one round of trivia questions every hour for each prize.  You have to be transcribing a menu to be eligible to win.  You must also be a CIA student to win.  Please note that you are only eligible to win once.  We will announce the prize before each game so you know what you are playing for.  Play wisely!

From your computer or phone, go to 

Enter the Game Pin # that is displayed on the projector screen.  Each hour will be a different pin number.

Good luck!



We will play Bingo often and for fun.  Make sure you get a bingo card and chips from one of the volunteers.  Get 5 in a row (any direction) and shout BINGO.  The first person to get bingo will get to chose a prize from the Grab Bag box in the Archives.


Have fun!  

The Culinary Institute of America | Conrad N. Hilton Library | 1946 Campus Drive | Hyde Park, NY 12538-1430
Telephone: 845-451-1747 | Email: