- [1860s], 1893, 1896, 1904, 1910-2014 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
2.9 m of textual records.
29 photographs : b&w and col.
5 vinyl enclosures.
1 framed menu.
Name of creator
Harley J. Spiller was born in 1959 in Buffalo, New York. He is a museum educator, collector, and author and is known for his collections of menus and coins. Spiller graduated from Northwestern University and, in 1981, moved to New York to pursue a career in the museum field. Soon after his move, Spiller received a job as an administrative assistant for the curatorial department of the Jewish Museum.
Spiller first began collecting menus on his nightly walks up and down the streets of the Upper West Side, where he lived when he started working at the Jewish Museum. Harley, an English major, took advantage of the free and easily accessible mass printed take out menus available as a result of the “menuing” phenomenon occurring at this time. When Spiller moved to a new apartment in Manhattan, he continued his nightly walks and collecting menus. As others heard about his growing collection of menus they began to gift their own menus that they had accumulated. The collection of menus and Chinese cuisine related artifacts was augmented through eBay purchases made by Spiller.
Spiller’s material, both menus and artifacts, have been featured in several museum displays and exhibits including the “A Million Menus” exhibit.
Material was purchased by UTSC and transferred to Collections at UTSC Library by Harley J. Spiller in December 2014. In August 2015, Archives & Special Collections took over the care of the material.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The collection is comprised of menus from around the world featuring a variety of cuisines including Afghan, American, Argentinian, Armenian, Asian, Bangladeshi, Brazilian, Burmese, Cambodian, Caribbean, Chinese (Peking, Szechuan, Shanghai, Yunnan, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hunan and Jiangnan), Colombian, Cuban, Dutch, Ecuadorian, Egyptian, European, Filipino, Finnish, French, Hong Kong style, Indian, Indochinese, Indonesian, Islamic, Israeli, Italian, Jamaican, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Latin American, Lebanese, Malaysian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Mongolian, Moroccan, Mughlai, Nepalese, Pakistani, Pan-Asian, Peruvian, Russian, Scandinavian, Singaporean, Southwestern, Spanish, Taiwanese, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Venezuelan, Vietnamese, seafood and vegetarian.
Menus are from restaurants located in Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, China (Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai), Egypt, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Turkey, Vietnam, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados Bermuda, Canada (British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory), Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, El Salvador, Greenland, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, the United States (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming), Australia, New Caledonia (France) New Zealand, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela.
Menus types included placemat menus, single sheet menus, trifold and four fold menus, five fold, seven fold and menus in booklet style. Some menus are laminated while others are in vinyl enclosures. Menus range from take away and delivery, to eat in and include wine lists, menus for cafes, breakfast menus and menus for cafeteria lunches.
The material is divided into Series 1 Menus. The series is divided into 6 subseries: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Accruals are expected.
System of arrangement
Material was arranged by the Archivist. Records are arranged by geographic region and alphabetically.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Material is open for research. Some material may be restricted due to preservation concerns.
A portion of the menus may not be available due to ongoing digitization.
Conditions governing reproduction
Material can be reproduced for scholarly purposes and private research. Copyright is retained by the owners. Permissions must be obtained from the copyright holder to publish materials.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Material is prone to tearing. Several booklet style menus are coming apart at the binding.
File list is available.
Generated finding aid
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
To view the digitized collection so far, please visit Internet Archives: https://archive.org/details/spiller
Related units of description
Citation of the material should include the following elements:
University of Toronto Scarborough Library, Archives & Special Collections, Fonds/Collection title, Series Name - Box # File # - Item # (if applicable).
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Dates of creation revision deletion
Description was entered by Amanda Tomé, August 2016.
Genre access points entered by AT, November 2016.
Item level menus added by TF, March 2018.