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James Beard Collection

Call Number



1919-1985, inclusive
; 1965-1981, bulk


Beard, James, 1903-1985


0.5 Linear Feet in 1 manuscript box.

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


This small collection of materials related to the noted cookbook author and food industry consultant James Beard includes selected correspondence, clippings, photographs, and personal effects.

Biographical Note

James Andrews Beard was born in Portland, Oregon on May 5, 1903. He studied briefly at Reed College in Portland but left in 1923 to join a touring theatrical troupe and pursue a career as an actor and singer. In the mid-1930s he began to supplement his income with catering work, and in 1937 he settled in New York and opened a gourmet food shop, Hors D'Oeuvre Inc. The work at the shop led to Beard's first book, Hors d'Oeuvres and Canapés, in 1940.

During the war years, Beard served with the U.S. Seamen's Service, establishing sailors' canteens in Rio de Janeiro, Puerto Rico, Panama and Marseille. When he returned to New York he resumed writing cookbooks, publishing prolifically and establishing himself as America's most noted culinary authority. In 1946 he was given his own segment on a pioneering television program, NBC's "I Love to Eat," becoming one of the first TV chefs.

Over the years, Beard contributed articles and columns to numerous magazines, including Women's Wear Daily, House and Garden and Gourmet. In the 1970s he wrote a syndicated newspaper column, "Beard on Food."

In 1955 Beard established the James Beard Cooking School, in New York, and for many years he served as a consultant to food producers and restaurateurs. He also ran his own restaurant, in Nantucket, for a while.

Beard published over twenty books in his lifetime, among them The Fireside Cookbook, The James Beard Cookbook, Delights and Prejudices, a Memoir with Recipes, and James Beard's Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.

James Beard died on January 21, 1985 at age 81.


The James Beard Papers are organized into seven series. Correspondence files are arranged alphabetically by subject/author heading. All other series are grouped by type of material. Descriptions are at the folder level.

  1. Series I: Correspondence
  2. Series II: Manuscripts and Notes
  3. Series III: Biographical Materials
  4. Series IV: Articles
  5. Series V: Invitations and Menus
  6. Series VI: Jose Wilson
  7. Series VII: Miscellaneous

Scope and Content Note

The James Beard Collection at Fales Library comprises a small collection of Beard materials considered significant by Beard's personal assistant, Emily Gilder. Included is miscellaneous incoming correspondence; of special note are three letters from writer M.F.K Fisher and a number of letters from Elizabeth David, the noted British cookbook author credited with bringing French and Italian cookery into the English home. There are clippings of articles by and about Beard, notes transcribed from tapes made by Beard, photographs, and personal effects including medical records, a last will and testament, and Beard's high school yearbook. Also included are a number of items by and about writer José Wilson, features editor for House and Garden magazine and Beard's close collaborator on his newspaper and magazine columns as well as a number of cookbooks.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Use Restrictions

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); James Beard Papers; MSS 139; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.


The James Beard Papers were donated to Fales Library in 2003 by restaurant-industry consultant Clark Wolfe, a friend and professional colleague of Beard's. Beard himself saved next to nothing; the materials in this collection were rescued from the wastebasket by Beard's personal assistant, Emily Gilder. In 1986, shortly after Beard's death, Gilder gave the collection to Wolfe with the instruction to "do the right thing when the time comes." With the establishment of a major culinary archive at NYU the time had come.

Collection processed by

Peter Cherches, March - April 2007.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:13:23 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from [filename01ES.xml]


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012