Menu Collection and Restaurant Memorabilia

Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library

Date range: 1880-present [bulk 1970s-2000]
Size of collection: ca. 1600 items
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment
Copyright Information: Please discuss with a Louisiana Division archivist

Scope and Contents

The Louisiana Division's extensive menu collection includes over 1600 menus and restaurant-related memorabilia from over 800 locations.

In addition to lunch, brunch, and dinner menus, the collection includes restaurant brochures and special invitations, as well as a small number of souvenir items such as: matchbooks, napkins, booklets, and postcards.

Around 400 of the 800 locations have dated menus. Of the six 19th century menus, three are bills of fare from ships. Between 1900 and 1950, there are menus from 15 restaurants, including Antoine's, La Louisiane, and Kolb's. Between 1950 and 1970, there are approximately 50 menus from restaurants including Arnaud's, Commander's Palace, and Brennan's. The largest assortment, from Antoine's, also dates back to this period. The remaining 300+ menus date from the 1970s to the present. The majority of the 400 undated restaurant menus appear to be from the 1970s to the present. In some cases, approximate dates are listed.

The collection is comprised mainly of restaurants in New Orleans and surrounding areas such as Metairie, Kenner, Mandeville, and Slidell. If the restaurant is a well-established New Orleans institution, there will most likely be more items available, spanning a longer range of time.

In addition to local restaurants, the collection also includes several menus from restaurants located in other parts of Louisiana such as Lake Charles, Henderson, and Jeanerette and some out-of-state menus from other southern states such as Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Besides menus from traditional restaurants, the collection also includes a few menus from train lines, ship lines, and airlines.

The fifteen images to the left reflect the great range of menu styles employed by local restaurants over the decades -- menu art influenced not only by the graphics in fashion at the time, but by the unique flavor of New Orleans culture and cuisine. [Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version of each image.]


The menu titles are arranged alphabetically, by restaurant, as reflected in the inventory below. Within each folder, the items are filed in chronological order. Menus, and any other related items for a restaurant are filed together in chronological order. Menus, and any other related items for a restaurant are filed together into one folder, except for Antoine's. Because of the size of this collection, there are three folders, entitled: Antoine's, Antoines Souvenirs, and Antoine's Special Invitations.

Oversized menus are filed separately from the regular-sized menus, but are also arranged in alphabetical and chronological order. In some cases, when a restaurant has regular and oversized menus, the menus will be filed both with the regular-sized menus and with the oversized menus.


Regular-Sized Menus [A-C] [D-G] [H-L] [M-Q] [R-S] [T-Z]

Oversized Menus [A-Z]

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5/9/2009 -- ml; updated 8/3/2012