Menu Collection, 1860-1990

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Title: Menu Collection, 1860-1990

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Collections Department.

Size of Collection: 0.66 cubic feet

Location Number: Mss. BB M549

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains menus dating from 1860 to 1990, as well as programs, guest lists, seating charts, dance cards, invitations, and tickets of admission for various events. The collection contains over 140 menus and papers organized alphabetically by venue.

Most of the menus are from the Louisville area, but some are from other cities in Kentucky, including Frankfort, Harrodsburg, Shelbyville, Richmond, and Bardstown. A few are also from cities out of state, including French Lick, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and New York.

Many of the menus detail the daily fare served at local restaurants and hotels, but a significant portion were used at special events and celebrations. These include Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Derby Day, Oaks Day, weddings, and birthdays, as well as banquets honoring guests such as the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, Queen Victoria, the queen of Romania, President Andrew Johnson, and President William Howard Taft. Other items of interest are a “mourning” menu used at the Galt House after the death of President James Garfield in 1881 and a menu of patients’ meal options at Kentucky Baptist Hospital. The menus provide excellent examples of popular styles of food and art from different eras.

This collection is a transfer from the Filson’s library collection. An index is available.

Historical Note

In the 1830s when Louisville was first developing into a booming city, the Galt House and the Louisville Hotel emerged to serve up Louisville’s first taste of high-quality cuisine. In 1905 Louis Seelbach opened the Seelbach Hotel, whose Oak Room became another cornerstone of gourmet dining. After the establishment of these first major restaurants, Louisville’s culinary scene expanded to include a wide variety of styles and flavors. This collection showcases the culinary history of Louisville and surrounding cities over a 130-year period, representing not only food throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but also significant events and everyday culture.


Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1:    A:  Alexander Hotel – Audubon Country Club

Folder 2:    B:  Benedict’s – The Brown Hotel

Folder 3:    C:  The Cape Codder – Claudia Sanders

Folder 4:    E-F:  Echo Hall – French Village

Folder 5:    G:  Galt House – Glyndon Hotel

Folder 6:    H:  Highland Presbyterian Church – Hungry Hermit

Folder 7:    J:  Jim Porter’s Tavern – J. Timothy

Box 2

Folder 8:    K:  “K” – Kentucky Hotel

Folder 9:    L:  Little Rebel – Louisville Hotel

Folder 10:  M-N:  Mario’s Pizza – The Normandy Inn

Folder 11:  O-P:  The Old House – The Playhouse

Folder 12:  R-S:  Rufer’s – Sullivan & Brach Café and Restaurant

Folder 13:  W:  The Waldorf-Astoria – The Willard

Folder 14:  Unknown venue


Subject Headings

Birthday parties – Kentucky – Louisville.

Brennan House (Louisville, Ky.)

Brown Hotel (Louisville, Ky.)

Christmas – Kentucky – Louisville.

Dinners and dining – Kentucky – Louisville.

Galt House (Louisville, Ky.)

Garfield, James A. (James Abram), 1831-1881.

Holiday cooking – Kentucky – Louisville.

Hospitals – Food service – Kentucky – 20th century.

Hotel restaurants – Kentucky – Louisville.

Hotels – Kentucky – Louisville.

Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875.
Kentucky Derby.

Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company.

Louisville Board of Trade.

Louisville Hotel (Louisville, Ky.)

Luncheons – Kentucky – Louisville.

Menus – Kentucky – Louisville.

New Year – Kentucky – Louisville.

Pendennis Club (Louisville, Ky.)

Restaurants – Menus.

Seelbach Hotel (Louisville, Ky.)

Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930.

Thanksgiving cooking – Kentucky – Louisville.

Thanksgiving Day – Kentucky – Louisville.

Weddings – Kentucky – Louisville.

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