Author Archives: Pamela


December 10th is recognized as International Human Rights Day, commemorating the day in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations.  This summer I visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY for the first time.  A highlight of the visit was an exhibit on Eleanor Roosevelt’s important role in developing the UDHR, and viewing her hand-annotated draft of the declaration.

Eleanor Roosevelt's draft of the UDHR, FDR Library and Archives.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s draft of the UDHR, FDR Library and Archives.

As the modern human rights movement matures, endures and evolves, it’s important to preserve and record its history.  The Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research at Columbia Libraries carries out that mission, as we collect and make available a variety of important sources related to human rights activism and advocacy.  Some highlights of both our unique primary source collections, and other general research resources:

Contact for more information, and follow us @HRDocumentation

August 30 – International Day of the Disappeared

August 30thFront Cover is recognized as a day to raise awareness of the crime of enforced disappearance and to remember those who have disappeared in the context of conflict and other violations of human rights.  Resources in our Libraries’ collections document and enable the study of enforced disappearances, and how human rights organizations and individuals have advocated for justice in these situations.

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Drawings used by Amnesty International’s 1988 Disappearances Campaign; published in Así Lo Hemos Vivido– : Detenidos-Desaparecidos. [Santiago, Chile :Vicaría de la Solidaridad-Arzobispado de Santiago, 1983]. Amnesty International of the USA, Inc.: National Office Records, Box 305 and Folder 13; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research, Columbia University Library.

A search of the subject heading, “disappeared persons” in CLIO, limited to our library catalog, brings back over 500 items in our collections. This search sorted by date shows the earliest published items that we acquired on this subject.  This includes Jean Marie Simon’s Guatemala, the Group for Mutual Support, 1984-1985documenting one of the few human rights groups to be established during the civil conflict in that country.  Limiting this search to the format of video allows you to see films and documentaries that address the topic of disappeared persons.

Human Rights Studies Online, a newly acquired database, is another source of film, documents, books and other resources. Another newly acquired resource, Human Rights Documents Online, offers a trove of non-governmental organization publications dating from 1980 to 2013. [Look for another post soon where I’ll dig deeper into these 2 databases.]

The archives held by our Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research are primary sources that document the work of several major human rights organizations. The drawing displayed above was distributed to AI groups to aid in their campaign to raise awareness of disappearances occurring in Chile in the 1970s and 1980s.

Our collecting also focuses on the present.  The Human Rights Web Archive, produced by the CHRDR and the Libraries, systematically collects and preserves human rights-related websites of over 600 organizations, including groups like the Lebanese Center for Human Rights.

Please contact for assistance with exploring the human rights collections at Columbia.


International Women’s Day 2015


International Women’s Day is observed on March 8th and in the U.S. the month of March is designated as Women’s History Month.   Here are some especially interesting and unique resources available in our collections, and out in the world.

Women and social movements, international: 1840 to present, “Online archive of published and manuscript primary sources focusing on women’s international activism since the mid-nineteenth century.”

Women's Day

Image of Xilonen, newspaper from Mexico City, 1970s. In Women and social movements, Alexander Street Press

Contemporary Women’s Issues.  A full-text database of articles and other information, global in scope and coverage.  

GenderWatch, a database of periodicals, magazines, and journals.

Women Watch.  United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women 

Women under Siege, a  project to compile reporting on the use of sexualized violence against women.  Includes a crisis map of violence against women in Syria.

Latin American Women Writers, a full-text collection of fiction, prose and poetry.


The librarians in Global Studies can assist you with research on women’s studies and gender issues pertaining to the regions of the world that we cover.  The Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian, Sarah Witte, is also available to help.

Música Brasileira!

brazilian cds 3 copyThe Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the site of parades and performances by the “Samba Schools” during the annual Carnival.   Things have no doubt quieted down since last week’s celebrations.  It’s been an unusually hot summer in Brazil, a counterpart to the frigid and arctic-blast filled winter we are having up here in the Northeast.

One thing that might warm you up is exploring the Libraries great collection of Brazilian music. For several years we have been working with the Library of Congress Field Office in Rio to acquire a variety of new music CDs, in the classical, folk, and MPB (música popular brasileira) genres.  Everything from classical piano to hip hop.  While some CDs have wide distribution, many are difficult to find in the U.S.

Search CLIO for books on Brazilian Music

Search CLIO to explore our collection of over 1,000 sound recordings. And if you are researching Brazilian music, or simply curious for recreational purposes, check out our subject guide to Brazilian Music, compiled by our former intern, John Kroondyk.  It’s full of great suggestions for reading, listening and learning.  

Questions?  Contact our Interim Latin American & Iberian Studies Librarian, Pamela, and/or our Music & Arts Library,

Human Rights 365

110169028 crop December 10th is Human Rights Day, first designated by the United Nations in 1950 to bring attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principles it espoused. This year’s theme emphasizes that every day is human rights day. I think it’s fair to say that every day is human rights day within the Columbia Libraries; our collections and initiatives to preserve and make available resources related to human rights are extensive and involve continuous effort and commitment. Some highlights of our collections:

And in recognition of today’s release of Brazil’s Truth Commission Report:

Contact  to learn more about human rights resources in the Libraries. Follow us on Twitter @HRdocumentation And follow the Human Rights day conversation #Rights365.

Human Rights Day 2013

On December 10th, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two years later the UN proclaimed December 10th as Human Rights Day. This day is commemorated throughout the world and calls attention to the ongoing work of promoting and protecting human rights. Columbia University Libraries has made a significant investment in supporting teaching, learning, and research related to human rights and related advocacy movements. Our Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research acquires unique primary resources, including the archives of several major human rights organizations. We have a network of subject specialist librarians who build excellent general collections of resources from around the world in many languages.

Some highlights our our collections: Human Rights organizational archives,  including the records of Human Rights Watch , Amnesty International USA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Committee for Health in Southern Africa.


Notable individuals’ papers

  • Gay J. McDougall South Africa and Namibia Papers, which includes records of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Southern Africa Project.  This collection documents Ms. McDougall’s work in coordinating the defense of political prisoners, and her work on South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission.  This collection is being processed.  Please check our Center’s website for updates on the availability of the collection for research.
  • Telford Taylor Papers, 1918-1998.  Taylor was a prominent lawyer who served as Counsel  for the Prosecution at the International and Nuremberg Military Tribunals.

Digital Collections:

Guatemala, Human Rights, and the Documentary Trail

Cover of Memory of Silence b Daniel RothenbergToday marks the opening of the trial of Efraín Ríos Montt, former Guatemalan army general and dictator, who is being charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.   Guatemala's truth commission report, issued in 1999, put the death toll at 200,000 during the course of an almost 40-year civil war. In a press release, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated   "This is the first time, anywhere in the world, that a former head of State is being put on trial for genocide by a national tribunal.”  The prosecution will turn to an extensive body of documentation, including military records, government documents, and the testimony of 142 witnesses in making its case. It is the exception and not the rule to see so much documentation survive a conflict.

Columbia Libraries and its Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research (CHRDR) provide a gateway to learning about and researching this conflict and the transitional justice process now unfolding.  Some recommended resources:

Recommended subject searches in our library catalog, CLIO Beta:

Beyond Columbia Libraries:

Follow the trial which is projected to last into the summer:
Twitter:  #RiosMontt, #GenocideGT and @NISGUA_Guate  @PzPenVivo (Plaza Pública)  and @ReedBrody (HRW)

How many world area librarians . . .

does it take to cut a ribbon?  Thanks to all who came by our Open House last week.  We enjoyed the good food, music, company and cheer.   We are really settling into our space now that it is officially open.  We've already broken in the conference room with a few meetings and a class session.

We'll look forward to your visit and to helping with any questions or queries related to research on the regions we cover.  Visit our staff page and collections pages to find a specialist for your area of interest .  Ribbon cutting

Welcome to Global Studies at CUL!

This new blog launches just as the Global Studies division of Columbia University Libraries / Information Services moves back into our newly renovated offices in the Lehman Social Sciences Library.  Our blog, space, and name (we were formerly known as Area Studies) may all be new but the work that our division carries out has a long and important history.  Our group of seven professional librarians and one bibliographic assistant  acquire and curate distinctive collections of print and digital resources that reflect publishing throughout the world.  We are here to support and collaborate with students, faculty, and researchers who wish to discover, explore and utilize our remarkable global collections.  And our librarians, with extensive language and subject knowledge in their respective world areas and topics, can connect you to libraries, archives and collections beyond Columbia.

Come visit our renovated space in Lehman at our Open House on Wednesday, February 6th, from 4:00-6:00 PM !  Meet our staff, learn about our work and enjoy refreshments.   Please RSVP to

We also invite you to follow our blog to hear about our adventures in global collecting and to learn about new resources, tools, and services.