À la Carte ~ Crowdsourcing historic PNW menus ~ We need you!

How did restaurants handle the coffee shortage during WWII?
When did the beverage sauerkraut juice disappear from menus?
What was the price of caviar in 1911?

These are some of the questions we need your help to answer!

The University of Washington Libraries Special Collections has launched À la Carte, a project to crowdsource the transcription of the data contained in our historic menu collection.   Special Collections holds more than 700 menus from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest of interest to historians, economists, chefs, scientists, and everyday food enthusiasts.  The trouble is, the menus are very hard to search for the greatest treasures they contain: specific information about dishes, prices, and all the stories they tell about food history and culture.


To aid in the discovery of these tasty tidbits of history, we’re working to improve the description of the menus in the collection by transcribing the menus, dish by dish.  Doing this will dramatically expand the ways the collection can be researched and accessed.  We built a website that will make this big job pretty easy to do.  This is where you and your friends, who also love food, become part of this crowdsourcing effort.  We depend on you (the crowd) to visit the website, look at a menu, and using the tools on the website, tell us what you see on that menu.  Dishes, prices, menu section, ingredients, and geographical location are the types of information you will be helping us uncover.

Interested? Contact info@uwmenus.org or visit the project website to complete the contact form. We’ll email you with further information about the project and optional summer meet up opportunities.

Don’t miss your chance to take part in this exciting new UW project!


Project staff:
Anne Jenner, Pacific Northwest Curator
Ann Lally, Digital Curator
Sarah L. Ketchley, Digital Humanities