Clubs, organizations, companies, and associations often hosted an annual dinner, usually at a hotel or large restaurant, to reflect on the year’s accomplishments and perhaps to recruit new members, but their menus differ widely. Some, like the National Life Insurance Co., treated its members to a wide variety of foods, from sweetbread croquettes to lobster salad. Others, like the dog show, kept the food offerings simple with the ubiquitous Blue Points and Waldorf Salad.
But some of these menus go well beyond the one-pager or folder, and flirt with the size of a pamphlet, managing to fit in addition to the menu, toasts, songs, names of board members, hymns, psalms, and much more into a complete souvenir program. Like this example from dinner by the St. George's Society in New York in 1900. Far more than a menu, this booklet includes not only toasts to the Queen and to the President of the United States, but to the Day, to the Land, to the Colonies, to the Sister Societies, and (finally) to the Ladies. And for those who need a little extra help, lyrics to God Save the Queen and The Star Spangled Banner.
Or this graphically arresting menu from the National Shorthand Reporters Banquet, also in 1900, held at Hotel Victory in Lake Erie, Ohio.
The menu of mock turtle, Philadelphia capon, Roman punch, and Petits Fours is fairly standard. The after-dinner speaking program, on the other hand, is anything but short, featuring such riveting discussions such as “Friendship among stenographers” by Dr. Rudolf Tombo of New York, and "Who are these stenographers?" by W.H. Macfeat of Columbia, South Carolina.
Important note to menu transcribers!