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Current Displays

The following displays on the main floor of the library showcase materials from the Archives and Special Collections.

A Century of Cocktails


Cocktail Menus from the CIA Menu Collection

Follow the links to see the digital versions of the menus:

1916 Wainwright & Smith, Rockaway Beach, N.Y.
1935 Beach Hotel, Charlevoix, Mich.
1935 Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans, La.
1936 Hotel New Yorker, New York, N.Y.
1936 Childs
1930s Blue Ribbon Spa, Chicago, Ill.
1930s Mayfair Bar, St. Petersburg, Fla.
1941 Bay City Grill, San Francisco, Calif.
1940s Hotel Astor, New York, N.Y.
1940s Joe DiMaggio's, San Francisco, Calif.
1953 Pete's Paramount Restaurant & Lobster House, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
1963 Frontier Lounge, Missoula, Mont.
1964 Bavarian Hofbrau, Boston, Mass.
1969 Red Garter, San Francisco, Calif.
1960s Bucks County Playhouse Inn, New Hope, Pa.
1971 Gus Steven's Buccaneer Supper Cub, Biloxi, Miss.
1977 Cafe Fanny, New York, N.Y.
1980s Judge Bean's Restaurant & Cantina, Aspen, Colo.
1994 Hilton at Los Angeles Airport, Los Angeles, Calif.
2010s The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog
2017 Workshop Kitchen & Bar, Palm Springs, Calif.

Artifacts from the Material
Culture Collection and the CIA Artifacts Collection

Material Culture Collection

The objects in these display cases are from several different collections housed in the Archives.  The artifacts are used in exhibits and displays in the library, including by students in the Food History class to research and curate the exhibitions in the Tober Exhibit Room.

These displays follow an “Open Storage” concept which puts objects not currently in use on display instead of in storage.

If you have any questions, please visit the Archives, or email Nicole Semenchuk at  The Archives is open Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Past DIsplays

Thank you, Chef!

September - December 2019

Dr. James & Mary Ann Leonard Collection of Thank You Letters

In 2019, Dr. James Leonard donated his collection of chef autographs to the CIA Archives.  Over the years, as he and his wife traveled around the world, they sought out fine food.  After an enjoyable meal, they would write the chef a letter, thanking him for his work.  Many times, these chefs wrote back.  The collection is these letters.

“It was a hobby,” Dr. Leonard explained. “I believe my interest in this hobby stemmed from my admiration and respect due to this ‘art form’ that is fine dining and sharing with friends and family.”

Dr. James and Mary Ann Leonard were grateful to learn that we at the CIA would love reading these letters, imagining happy, sated diners and the chefs taking the time to respond to their guests. Perhaps, we might also be inspired by the expression of gratitude.

Thank YOU – for being a student here, for being our guest, for serving others with your talents, skills and passion.

Black History Month Menus

February 2019 - 

The following menus from the CIA Menu Collection are on display for Black History Month:

Louisville and Nashville Railroad Dixie Line, 1959
Missouri Pacific Railroad, 1947
Bill Reinhard's Dixieland Band advertisement, 1967
Jonathan, New Orleans, Louisiana
Mary Mac's Tea Room, Atlanta, Georgia, 1973
Nathalie's, Harlem, New York, 1977
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Tennessee, 1969
K. Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, New Orleans, Louisiana
Durbar Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, 1983
Uncle Bud's Catfish Chicken and Such, Franklin, Tennessee, 1994
Matadi, Belgian Congo
Jack's Nest Southern Kitchen, New York, New York
Gumbo Shop, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1994
Donn Clendenon's, Atlanta, Georgia, 1973
The Olde Pink House, Savannah, Georgia
Mammy's Shanty, Atlanta, Georgia
Blues Alley
African Queen, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France
Mac's Barbecue, Evansville, Indiana
Jack Dempsey's, New York, New York
Erica's Cafe, Negri, Jamaica

Menu selection and display by student Archives assistant, Khori Eubanks.

Lobster, Champagne Glass or Piano? How Would You Like Your Menu?

Oct. 2018-Feb. 2019

Die-cut menus from the CIA Menu Collection are now on display in the library. 

Check out these unusual menus, cut into shapes of animals, people, food,
containers and glasses, and more!

Sunny Side Up: Breakfast Menus from the CIA Menu Collection

March - September 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?

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.


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