Skip to main content

Menu collection

Identifier: MSS 601 large
The Menu Collection includes approximately 50 menus gathered during the travels of an unknown collector over a period of forty years or more, from the late 1950s to the late 1990s. About half of the items are from international airlines such as Air India and international cruise lines such as Holland America. The remaining menus, primarily from establishments in the United States and Mexico, range from elegant New York City restaurants, to modest diners near tourist attractions, to eating houses with a close connection to local history, such as the Buffalo Bill Tavern in Denver, Colorado. A large proportion of the menus offer examples of how businesses catering to travelers attempted to represent their home cultures to visitors. These depictions range from slightly saccharine depictions of Dutch children wearing national costumes, to dignified watercolors of Olmec and Toltec monuments in Mexico. The cultural and historical scenes are not always accurate: for example, a scene with a Pilgrim and a Native American (suggesting early colonial days on North America's eastern seaboard) is decorated with a totem pole in the style of the Haida people of the Pacific Northwest.


  • 1939 - 2000

Language of Materials

Primarily in English with items in Spanish, Hindi, and Chinese.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Access The material is stored off site. Please request 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact MSU Libraries Special Collections.


2 Linear Feet (4 boxes)


The collection is intellectually arranged alphabetically by entity and physically by size.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquisition information for this collection is unknown. The majority of the menus appear to have been purchased from vendors.

Processing Information

Lydia Tang processed this collection in 2017.
Finding Aid for the Menu collection
Lydia Tang and Ruth Ann Jones
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48824 USA