Marking World AIDS Day with oral histories from the collections

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On December 1, health care practitioners, among others, are recognizing World AIDS Day. The goal is to bring awareness to the fact that AIDS and HIV remain a global pandemic. This year’s theme is “Know Your Status.”

World AIDS Day BadgeFor some historical perspective on the AIDS crisis, we had look at a few of the 74 interviews that make up the Physicians and AIDS oral history project housed in the RBML. About the project,

To construct a collective biography of the early AIDS doctors, Ronald Bayer, Columbia University professor of public health, and Gerald Oppenheimer, associate professor of clinical public health, turned to oral history. After extensive preparation, interviewing, and editing, they published AIDS Doctors: Voices from the Epidemic, an historical account of the epidemic through the eyes of the doctors who experienced it.

One doctor interviewed for the project was Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr. Dr El-Sadr was on the front lines at the start of the crisis practicing medicine in Harlem and helping to establish one of the first holistic clinics. It’s a wide-ranging interview that’s unique in its focus on the early stages of the epidemic, physicians’ initial confusion and frustration in only treating the symptoms of an as-yet-undefined disease and skepticism’s impact on low-income and minority communities in recognizing the epidemic.

When asked what Dr. El-Sadr learned from her time treating patients with HIV/AIDS, she said, “Oh, boy, it’s tough. I think it’s about people. I [have] come back to people and just the strength, and also about not giving up. It’s just not giving up on them. There is something in there. And accepting people. I think that would be it. And listening to them, too.”

 

Book Talk | Susan Orlean on her book, The Library Book

November 29, 2018, 6 pm
523 Butler

woman in wallpapered library

New Yorker Staff writer and author Susan Orlean will talk about her latest work, The Library Book, which is both an investigation of the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire and a meditation on her lifelong love of books and libraries. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired Orlean’s archive in 2015.

This lecture is a part of the Book History Colloquium series. This event is now fully booked but you can join the waitlist.

 

rows of archival boxes in a white room

New and Updated Collections | November 2018

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened or updated by RBML archivists.

Ian and Betty Ballantine Books and Business Records
“Ian and Betty Ballantine were book publishers who contributed to the
growth of paperback book sales in the United States between the 1940s
and the 1990s. The Ian and Betty Ballantine Books and Business Records
include the Ballantines’ materials related to Penguin Books USA,
Bantam Books, Ballantine Books, and Peacock Books. Administrative
documents cover the management of these presses as well as the
editorial, sales, inventorying, and advertising processes. In
addition, the collection contains the bulk of the editorial libraries
of Penguin Books USA, Bantam Books, and Ballantine Books.”

Pamela Moore Papers
“Pamela Moore (1937-1964) was an American novelist, best known for
Chocolates for Breakfast (1956). The papers contain correspondence,
clippings, contracts, diaries, drafts, manuscripts, memorabilia,
photographs, notebooks, notes, outlines, proofs, school materials,
sketch books, and a collection of published editions of Moore’s
novels”

Li Huang papers, 1928-1981
“The Li Huang papers contain manuscripts of his political writings
dating from 1929 to 1971, as well as reference materials for his
memoir.”

Kwang Pu Chen papers, 1936-1958
“The Kwang Pu Chen papers consist of documents and printed materials
assembled during Chen’s career in banking and finance, including his
negotiations for American loans (1938-1940), his affiliation with the
Universal Trading Corporation (1938-1958), Foreign Trade Commission
(1939-1940), Burma Road (1939-1940), Chinese Currency Stabilization
Fund and the Stabilization Board of China (1939-1943), and Foreign
Exchange Equalization Fund Committee (1947-1948)”

William Lambert Papers
“This collection consists of journalist William G. Lambert’s
(1920-1998) collected investigative materials such as correspondence,
news clippings, notes, notebooks, photographs and transcripts related
to his award winning reporting for The Oregonian, Portland, and for
Life magazine. In 1957, Lambert and his colleague Wallace L. Turner
(1921-2010) received the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting, which
uncovered widespread vice and corruption within the municipal Portland
city government that involved labor union officials of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and
Helpers of America, Western Conference. In 1970, Lambert accepted the
George Polk Award for his 1969 Life magazine reporting, which revealed
that U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas (1910-1982)
accepted and later returned a suspect $20,000 fee, spurring Fortas’
resignation.”

Laura Engelstein Collection of Research Note Cards on Social and
Cultural History of Late Imperial Russia, bulk 1982 – 1992
“This collection is a wonderful glimpse into the research process of
distinguished professor Laura Engelstein, and also brings a great deal
of otherwise scattered (in Russian archives) material together on
topics of human sexuality in Imperial Russia. ”

New Exhibition | Dynamic Archives: renaming and identifying collections

Why would an archivist change the name of a collection? That’s the central question behind a new RBML exhibit.

Dynamic Archives features examples of archival collections and materials whose naming, identifying and meaning have had to keep up with historical, social and political perspectives, as well as translation practices and epistemologies. Continue reading

Newly available and updated RBML finding aids, October 2018

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened by RBML archivists

 

Dennis Ryan Editorial Cartoon collection, 1873-2010
“Dennis B. Ryan began collecting cartoons in the early 1980s,
ultimately focusing on cartons related to moments and topics of
significance in American history, or on topics of personal interest.”
This collection contains 2071 items, described and housed at the item
level. *Tremendous credit goes to Cathy Ricciardi for seeing this
project to completion.

Black Journalists oral history collection, list of all interviews
A major oral history collection has been cataloged:
“The Black Journalists oral history collection’s ninety-three
interviews document the history of the African American press from the
late nineteenth century to the time that the interviews were taken in
the early 1970s, with a particular focus on the 1930s-1960s.”

Chinese collections
A series of collections containing Chinese or associated with China
have been processed and/or improved. Chief among them are the records
of the Chinese Oral History project.

Chinese Oral History Project records
These are the records of the project itself. The finalized memoirs
and related archival material have all now been cataloged separately
(see: related materials).
* Please let us know if you encounter any difficulties finding materials
related to this collection; it has been significantly reorganized to
make it easier to access.

William Henry Donald correspondence
“The William Henry Donald papers primarily consist of correspondence
between William Henry Donald (1875- 1946) and his friend, Harold K.
Hochschild (1892-1981) where he described about his work in China, his
involvement in the Xi’an Incident, and his life later in the Pacific
Islands and return to China.”

Quincy Wright papers
“The Quincy Wright papers primarily consist of materials related to
Asia collected by Quincy Wright during his tenure at the University of
Chicago, dating from 1926 to 1952. The materials provide a wealth of
information about China before and during the Sino-Japanese War as
well as its political situation during that period. ”

Benjamin Waugh papers
“The Benjamin Waugh papers mainly consist of photographs that
documented the National Revolution Army’s Northern Expedition in
various northern cities in China dating from 1927 to 1928.”

Chao-hao Wu letters
“The Zhaohao Wu letters mainly consist of twenty-eight handwritten
letters from Zhaohao Wu and others in Germany and in Moscow to his
younger brother Zhaofa Wu in the U.S. between 1923 and 1929.”

Chiu Chang-Wei correspondence
“The Chiu Chang-Wei correspondence consists of outgoing correspondence
and telegrams drafts by Chiu and incoming correspondence relating to
the Acting President of the Republic of China, Li Zongren, dating from
1949 to 1950 and the move of the Chinese Republican government to
Taiwan. ”

Zhang Fakui papers
“he Zhang Fakui papers emphasize General Zhang’s military career as
the prominent Chinese Nationalist General during the important years
of the Sino-Japanese War”

Chen Lifu papers
“The Chen Lifu papers mainly document his involvement in Chinese
politics during the Republican era, dating from 1926 to 1989, with the
bulk dates from 1926 to 1951.”

H.H. Kung papers
“The H. H. Kung papers document Dr. Kung’s political career from 1936
to 1944. The bulk of the papers consist of correspondence and
political documents during the time when he was serving as the
Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Central Bank of China, and
the Vice Premier of the Executive Yuan.”

Collection on Liu Ruiheng
“The collection on Dr. Liu Ruiheng consist of primary and secondary
source materials on his medical education abroad and his career at the
PUMC as well as other materials relating to medical education in China
before and during the Sino-Japanese War, mostly dating from 1922 to
1946.”

Huang Fu papers
“The Huang Fu papers consist of materials relating to Huang Fu’s
political involvement in the early revolutions, the Coup d’etat of
1924, the Nanking Incident, the Jinan Incident, the Tanggu Truce
settlement and its aftermath, dating mostly from 1913 to 1945”

Hu Chuan and Hu Shih papers
“The Hu Chuan and Hu Shih papers documented the life of Hu Chuan as a
civil official of the Qing Imperial Court, as well as the life of his
son, Hu Shih, who later became an eminent Chinese philosopher,
essayist, educator, scholar, and diplomat of the 20th century.”

Tingfu Tsiang papers
“The Tingfu Tsiang papers contains materials relating to Dr. Tsiang’s
life and his career as a Representative to the United Nations and an
Ambassador to the United States, between 1942 and 1965. ”

*Our two “John Berryman Papers” collections were renamed to differentiate them:

Bradley Commission on History in Schools Records, 1982-1992
“The Bradley Commission on History in Schools Records contain the
commission’s administrative records and materials related to the
process of creating and sharing guidelines for elementary and
secondary school history education in the United States from
1982-1992. Many of these materials were created by Elaine Wrisley
Reed, administrative director, Kenneth Jackson, chair, and the sixteen
members of the commission.”

A Ghost in Philosophy Hall

The Columbia University Archive’s spookiest (and only) documented ghost story begins on a dark and dusty evening in 1945, when Professor Jeffery related to Columbiana curator Milton Halsey Thomas a harrowing tale that he had heard nearly a decade earlier from John D. Prince, a professor of East European Languages. Thomas took notes on the story, and later attempted to sleuth out the details as Jeffery had narrated them:

Philosophy Hall, Early 20th Century

On the night of May 22, 1936, Prince was walking the lonely corridors of Philosophy Hall, en route to a meeting with President Butler. While descending a darkened stairway he experienced a distinctive but familiar feeling — “a smart pat on his kidneys” — that he associated with Richard Gottheil, a professor of Semitic Languages, who had long occupied the office next door to his, and who “used to deliver” that exact sort of friendly nudge “from time to time.” When Prince turned to look for his colleague, he found only an empty staircase.

A few minutes later, during Prince’s meeting with the president, secretary Frank Fackenthal entered the office to inform them of some sad, and — in the context — spooky news: Professor Gottheil had just died at his home on the Upper West Side.

An Obituary for Professor Gottheil

Returning, shaken and saddened, to his office, Prince encountered a graduate student, Harriet Levy, “in hysterics.” She too had just had a spectral encounter with the deceased professor. She had been sitting at a desk that evening, and had seen him in the hallway. Since she had the key to his office, she got up and followed after him. As she went to unlock his door, Gottheil had glided by her in silence, “passed through the closed door, and disappeared.”

In the days after hearing Professor Jeffery’s dramatic narrative, the Columbiana curator worked to authenticate the story. He interviewed Frank Fackenthal, who would soon be named university president, about his memories of the incident. His terse summary of their conversation says only that “Mr. Fackenthal cannot confirm any part of this.”

But this non-denial denial only raises more questions about the “Ghost in Philosophy Hall.”

 

 

Talk | Philology and Authenticity: Lorenzo Valla, Constantine, and Styles of Renaissance Reading

November 1, 4:30 pm
Bulter 203 (with a post-talk reception in the RBML’s Kempner Gallery)

Dean of Georgetown College and Professor of Classics and History at Georgetown University, Christopher Celenza will deliver the sixth Paul O. Kristeller lecture.

He is the author of The Intellectual World of the Italian Renaissance: Language, Philosophy, and the Search for Meaning (2018), Petrach: Everywhere a Wanderer (2017), and Machiavelli: A Portrait (2014).

This event is co-sponsored by the Italian Academy. Registration is required

 

Talk | Re-embracing the Lachrymose Theory of Jewish History: Dialogue with a Columbia Tradition

October 30, 2018 @ 6PM
Faculty House Garden Room 2

Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies

In his multi-volume social and religious history of the Jews, Salo Baron, one of the most influential Jewish historians of the 20th century, decried how Jewish history had been told and retold as an endless tale of woe. Instead, Baron stressed that, in the diaspora, Jews did not necessarily suffer more than other members of the societies in which they resided, and often lived creatively within Christian and Islamic lands.

This evening Benjamin Gampel will explain how Baron’s claims about the Jews grew out of the social and religious landscape of the early twentieth century Europe. Gampel will argue, based on his understanding of medieval Jewish history, that a newer understanding of the lachrymose history of the Jews could well be seen as an appropriate way to appreciate the saga of this minority people and be of importance, as well, to the social and religious challenges facing contemporary Jewry.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University Libraries, Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.