My anthropologist friend posted a link to the digital collections at the New York Public Library and I spent a few hours in a rabbit hole. Among the collections are many menus bearing this seal.
I looked at dozens of menus from Greek-Letter Organization events. One of the most captivating items I looked at was this one from a 1907 meeting of Phi Gamma Delta men.*
Phi Gam menu
Since I dove into the treasures without reading about the collection, I became a little curious about the “Buttolph Collection.” Who was the mysterious person named Buttolph? Wikipedia’s entry includes only this information:
Frank E. Buttolph (born Frances Editha Buttles; 1844–1924) was an American collector known for initiating the Miss Frank E. Buttolph American Menu Collection, 1851-1930 at New York Public Library in 1899.
In 1899, Buttolph offered to donate her private collection of American menus to the New York Public Library. The director of the library at the time, John Shaw Billings, agreed to house the collection. Buttolph remained a steadfast presence at the library, continuing to expand the collection until her death in 1924. Today, it is part of the New York Public Library Menu Collection. It is one of the largest menu collections in the world. The collection continues to grow and is currently curated by culinary librarian, Rebecca Federman.
The wikipedia entry left me with many questions. I went searching again. I found a few answers on a blog written by Steve Orner, an arborist and tree surgeon who at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania.
Frank E. Buttles, Mansfield State Normal School from Steve Orner’s blog)
Buttolph, when she was known as known as Frank E. Buttles, graduated from Mansfield University, when it was Mansfield State Normal School. Orner cited an entry in a 1913 Mansfield alumni publication:
A letter of unusual interest has been received from Miss Frank E. Buttolph, of 476 Fifth Ave., N.Y., a member of the Class of 1866, the first class to be graduated, where the name was spelled “Buttles.
It is interesting to note that the New York Public Library is located at 476 Fifth Avenue and has been since 1911. The Mansfield alumni publication included this information about Buttolph:
She is also a ‘born collector’ and one of her collections—a very unique one—consists of 26,000 menu cards gathered from all quarters of the globe and commemorating many notable occasions. They are now housed for permanent exhibition in the new Astor Library, New York city—a testimony to their historical and artistic value.
To read Orner’s blog about Buttolph, see https://frankbuttolph.wordpress.com/. To view the NYPL’s digital collections see http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/. There is also a collection of Buttolph’s menus in the British Library. To view some of the digital files belonging to the British Library, see https://lovemenuart.com/collections/miss-frank-e-buttolph-british-library-menu-collection.
*From Towner Blackstock, Phi Gamma Delta’s Curator of Archives:
These “Fiji Jamborees” resulted in the organization of the New York Club. The banquet lasted four hours, 8 to midnight, with 214 attending. The speakers include three Archon Presidents: Orion Cheney (NYU 1897), Horace Brightman (Columbia 1892), and Newton D. Baker (Johns Hopkins 1892, W&L 1894) . . . yes, the same folks for whom the Cheney Cup, Brightman Trophy, and Baker Cup are named. “On Saturday, February 2, and the Hotel Astor, occurred the most splendid and successful meeting of Phi Gamma Delta ever held in New York,” crowed The Phi Gamma Delta. “The immediate cause of this assemblage was a call sent out by Section Chief Cheney to the Columbia, New York, Trinity and Yale chapters for a convention at which the things that were of most importance to the fraternity could be discussed. Inasmuch as New York is the home of many hundreds of Fijis, it was thought advisable to have as many of these men present as possible, and to extend a general invitation to all members of the fraternity, and in order to accomplish this the inducement was held out that President Baker and Secretary Pogue would be on hand ….Each chapter presented a paper on fraternity topics, and Yale put on a model initiation. Discussions then turned to organizing a club for the thousand or so brothers in New York…..Before the crowd dispersed steps had been taken toward organizing a Phi Gamma Delta Club and a committee appointed with power to secure permanent quarters.”
My Saturday afternoon was spent at a memorial service for a member of my Rotary club who was also a member of my P.E.O. chapter. I mentioned her a few posts ago. Blanche Carlton Sloan, Ph.D. was a gracious, articulate, and intelligent woman. At age 92, she no longer made it to the club’s 7 a.m. meetings, but she attended the March 29 Fifth Tuesday potluck. I remember asking her about Harper Lee, who had died in February; the author spent a year at Huntingdon College, Blanche’s alma mater. Blanche was the first female District Governor in Rotary District 6510 and she was a “steel magnolia” in her dealings in what was a man’s world. She also served Rotary on an international level. She was an ardent supporter of the organizations in town and she will be sorely missed. To read about her service to Rotary in her own words, written sometime after 2008, see https://www.rghfhome.org/first100/women/seconddgs/sloan.htm#.V4OKh7grKM8.
Blanche Carlton Sloan cheering on the SIUC Saluki basketball team during the 2015-2016 season.
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/