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Guide to the Jessica Burstein Photographs and Memorabilia
1940s-2017 (bulk 1970s-2012)
 PR 361

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 21, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series II. Elaine's Restaurant, circa 1990-2008. 5.2 Linear feet

Biographical / Historical

"Elaine's" was a bar and restaurant on New York City's Upper East Side, at 2nd Avenue and East 88th Street. It was named after its owner, Elaine Kaufman (1929-2010). Begun by Kaufman in 1963, the restaurant was a favorite spot of celebrities. Kaufman died in December 2010, and the restaurant closed a few months later.

Scope and Contents

The series holds several hundred photographs (though many are duplicate prints) taken by Burstein at Elaine's during the 1990s and 2000s. The bulk are black and white, though there are some color photographs.

These are primarily casual posed shots of the restaurant's patrons. Burstein identified the subjects for many of the photos, which include authors/literary figures/journalists (e.g., Truman Capote, William Styron, George Plimpton, Graydon Carter, Salman Rusdie, David Halberstam, Walter Mosley, Molly Ivins, etc.), sports figures (e.g., Keith Hernandez, Chuck Daly, George Steinbrenner, etc.), actors/entertainers (e.g., Ben Kingsley, Chris Noth, Clint Eastwood, Forest Whitaker, Michael Caine, Henry Mancini, Don Rickles, Sigourney Weaver, Gwyneth Paltrow, Russell Simmons, Helen Mirrer, etc.), TV personalities (e.g., Joan Rivers, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Geraldo Rivera, etc.), entertainment executives/producers/directors/agents (e.g., Harvey Weinstein, Roger Altman, Sydney Pollack, James Woods, etc.), politicians/government figures (e.g., Robert Morgenthau, John McCain, Michael Bloomberg, David Dinkins, etc.), among others.

Although the bulk of the photographs focus on the patrons, some do capture views of the interior of the bar and restaurant itself. Elaine appears in many of the photographs. Staff members also appear in some. The series also holds some memorabilia.


The series opens with three boxes of photographs that are primarily 11x14 inches in size; most of the photographs remain in the boxes as received from the photographer. These are followed by photographs of somewhat larger size and by memorabilia.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 10 Photographs at Elaine's (Box 1 of 3)

Scope and Contents

In addition to the black and white photos found in all the boxes, this box holds several color photographs. There is also one photo autographed by Gay Talese and inscribed/autographed by Nan Talese.

Box: 11 Photographs at Elaine's (Box 2 of 3)
Box: 12 Photographs at Elaine's (Box 3 of 3)
Box: 31 Folder : 2 Photographs at Elaine's (Flat box)

Scope and Contents Note

Holds several photographs:

* 3 photographs, labeled by Burstein as "Capote triptych. Fiber prints (silver) on wall at Elaine's." Each signed and dated (1990). Each noted as "1/2 AP" and location within triptych identified. Approx. 24x10. Unframed by Alan Balicki April 2018. A portion of the original backing, with caption, is in the box. Also, a color photograph of the wall at Elaine's showing the original triptych is included with the three photographs.

* Labeled by Burstein as "Truman Capote & Jake Snake. Fiber portrait (silver) on wall at Elaine's." Signed and dated (1990). Noted as "1/2 AP". Approx 20x24. Unframed by Alan Balicki April 2018. A portion of the original backing, with caption, is in the box.

* Color photo of Elaine with George Steinbrenner (2005), inscribed and signed by Elaine.

* Color photo of Elaine holding photo of Clint Eastwood at entrance to Elaine's (2005). The Eastwood photo and a portion of its original backing, with caption, is also in the box.

* 3 other prints of photographs found in other boxes.

Box: 32 Folder : 5 Photographs at Elaine's (Flat box)

Scope and Contents Note

Holds six black and white 20x16 photographs, on boards, signed and captioned by Burstein:. Warren Hinckle, with dog Melman; George Plimpton; Ben Kingsley; Vince Curatola, Jessie Joyner, John Miller; Dr. Ruth with Joan Rivers; and Dabney Coleman.

Box: 31 Folder : 3 Posters (3)

Scope and Contents

Posters publicizing New Year's Eve at Elaine's (2005 or 2006, and 2007) and poster for Elaine's 45th anniversary event (2008).

2005(?), 2007, 2008
Folder: FF-2 Poster: "Elaine's 30th Anniversary"

Scope and Contents Note

Inscribed and autographed by Elaine. Approximately 30x23 inches.

1994 May
Box: 28 Folder : 2 Table Check Stubs; Cafe Tallulah Publicity
Box: 28 Folder : 3 Books

Scope and Contents

Two books: "Everyone comes to Elaine's" by A.E. Hotchner and "Elaine's: the rise of one of New York's most legendary restaurants from those who were there" by Amy Phillips Penn. The Hotchner book is inscribed to Hal by Elaine. Both books include photographs by Burstein; the Penn book includes two articles written by Burstein. Both books are also held in N-YHS's main collection.

2004, 2015
Box: 28 Folder : 4 Solicitation Brochure and Program Booklet. Table 4 Writers Foundation First Annual Awards Gala
Box: 30 Tee Shirt

Scope and Contents

T-shirt with saying "I closed Elaine's, 1963-2011"

Box: 28 Folder : 5 Sign (from Elaine's?)

Scope and Contents

Small metal sign "We are not responsible for personal property -- The Mgt."


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