All of these menus are from a collection at the New York Public Library collected by Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924). The first menu shown here is a Diamond Jubilee Luncheon Menu for delegates held by the New York Life Insurance Company at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1905.
In 1899, she offered to donate her existing collection to the Library, and she continued collecting on the Library’s behalf until her death in 1924. Miss Buttolph was rather persistent in her efforts, and would write to every restaurant she could find, requesting they send her menus. When this failed, she would often march into a restaurant and plead her case in person.
She also placed advertisements in trade publications and received contributions of specimens from around the world when news of her menu mission was published in The New York Times on several occasions. The Times noted that “she frankly avers that she does not care two pins for the food lists on her menus, but their historic interest means everything”. Today, the collection is one of the largest menu collections in the world and it continues to grow through additional gifts and donations.