Level of description
Extent and medium
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.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Material was transferred to Archives & Special Collections in 2015.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The fonds is comprised is of Spiller's work and research as a food writer, collector, curator, museum educator, and author. The contains records such as documentation, correspondence, press clippings, photographs, and videos.
The fonds is arranged in 6 subseries:
- Food writing
- Exhibits and programs
- Press clippings
- Photographs & video
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Material was arranged by the archivist.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Generated finding aid
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
For originals of Spiller's menu collection, see the Harley J. Spiller collection.
Related units of description
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Dates of creation revision deletion
Organized and description added by Tanis Franco, Feb. 2022.