Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Impressions of American Hotels


Max O’Rell was the pen name of Léon Paul Blouet, a well-known French author and journalist in the late nineteenth century. Beginning in the fall of 1887,  O'Rell visited the United States for six months, traveling as far west as Chicago. After a second tour in 1890, he published A Frenchman in America in which he humorously described American manners and customs with acerbity. Chapter IV, titled “Impressions of American Hotels,” is reproduced below with some of the original illustrations and relevant menus from the period.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

When Maria Parloa Visited Tilden Ladies’ Seminary

New Hampshire,

Tilden Ladies’ Seminary in West Lebanon, New Hampshire was a progressive institution established in 1855 when most female boarding schools focused on activities like needlework and music. Two pieces of ephemera from 1881 provide a rare glimpse of this school and a guest lecturer named Maria Parloa, one of the country’s first celebrity chefs. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

An Early Chidren's Menu


Menus designed exclusively for children first appeared in department stores and railroad dining cars in the 1920s and were more broadly adopted by restaurants after the Second World War. A hand-written menu from a seven-year-old birthday party in February 1885 reveals what a children’s menu might have looked like had they existed in public dining spaces in the late nineteenth century.