John W. Shleppey travel and menu collection

The University of Tulsa McFarlin Library Special Collections and University Archives are pleased to announce that the John W. Shleppey travel and menu collection has been fully processed and made available for full digital access through our website. Just click on each individual record in the list along the right side of the page, then drop open the “Digital Material” section at the bottom of the page to see the scanned images.

The collection is actually a sub-series of the general Shleppey Collection, 1975.002, which includes other items that have not as yet been processed, but the menus were of special interest because a Food Media class came to visit our department last year.

John Shleppey was an advertising executive and ran the Shleppey Outdoor Advertising Company in Tulsa during the mid-20th century. His work involved quite a bit of travel, and whenever he visited a new area and ate at a restaurant, he collected menus and other travel materials. This collection is a really fascinating glimpse into not only the types of foods that were made available to foodies in the 1950s and 1960s, but the ways that dishes and restaurants were advertised: the menus have graphic design and photography unique to the era, and certain elements are emphasized in ways different than we might recognize today.

Many of the menus come from Seattle, Washington and the Pacific Northwest, but quite a few are from the Tulsa, Dallas, and St. Louis areas. There are even a few from Havana, Cuba! Perhaps the most surprising thing of note is that restaurants didn’t seem to focus on one particular type of cuisine—coastal restaurants and those located in the cattle-heavy plans both featured steaks and seafood. Many of the restaurants no longer exist.

Here are a few examples of the types of materials that can be found in this collection.

The Mermaid Room drinks list

Johnny’s Dock Restaurant — this is a full wood menu.

The Polynesia drinks list

About Melissa Kunz

Melissa Kunz is a Special Collections Librarian. She holds a Masters in Library and Information Studies and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hendrix College in Arkansas.
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