Archivist’s Angle: Food for Thought at Meetings of Early Alumni
As many alumni prepare to return to NYU for NYU Alumni Weekend, we take a look back at some of the earliest iterations of reunion and gathering among NYU graduates.
Creme d’asperges, Filet de boeuf, little neck clams, golden plover, petit fours.
This is a selection of the mouthwatering menu of the forty-first reunion of the class of 1843, held at the Down-Town Club. The 32 members of the Class of 1843 met yearly starting when they were still enrolled and continuing for many decades. Alongside the menus in the event program were listed each member of the class, living or deceased, as well as a list of all class members in attendance. Alumni, numbering in just the hundreds, were dedicated, with most, usually all, members returning year after year. The Cass of 1843 wasn’t alone in this practice; many of the classes of the 1800s and early 1900s had similar dinner meetings—with similarly delicious menus.
These meetings were class specific, but the Association of the Alumni of the University of the City of New York was established at nearly the same time as the founding of the University for and “composed of the graduates of the University of the City of New York in all its departments,” according to its constitution. The Association’s held an “anniversary” event with an alumni or faculty orator. Afterwards, alumni met at Astor House for roast fresh ham in Champagne sauce, salmon with Montpellier butter, Swiss meringues, and strawberry tarts.
Thought more than 150 years have passed and alumni now number more than half-a-million, NYU’s tradition of returning to campus to reconnect with classmates will continue on October 20–21—and in keeping with tradition, it promises to be delicious!