News from RBML’s Archivists | July 2020

the lettter A written in calligraphy
Photo by Harald Arlander on Unsplash

Kevin Schlottmann, RBML’s head archivist, shares these updates about finding aids that our archivist and collections management specialists converted from scanned PDF documents to more accessible digital use. The materials described offer a glimpse into the broad and deep collections that the RBML stewards.

Also highlighted are examples of the other archival processing work, such as opening collections, writing or enhancing biographical notes, and improving description of married women in our collections.The Radio Liberty Oral History Project was previously closed except with written permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The collection documents the 1917 Russian Revolution. It is now open for research and digitized audio is available online. Though the Collection’s thumbnails are still the “padlock” symbol, these will be updated soon. The content is open for use.

Oral history curator Kimberly Springer renegotiated the terms of access with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and oral history archivist David Olson and CUL’s Digital Library & Scholarly Technologies division updated the metadata.

Tanya Chebotarev, Bakhmeteff Curator and archivist Katia Shraga have created and expanded biographical notes for papers in the Bakhmeteff Archive. They include:


Improving the description of married women, aka The Mrs Project
Inspired by a Twitter thread, we’re reviewing the long-standing practice of describing married women in the collections who, if mentioned at all, are referenced by their husbands (e.g., Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt). In one example (of many!) of a collaboration between archival and public services staff, Celeste Brewer and Vianca Victor, respectively, updated file-level metadata with the full names of women previously identified as “Mrs. Husband’s Name” in many collections. The Herbert Lehman Papers and the Nicholas Murray Butler Papers are good examples. There are still a few instances where Mrs. Husband’s Name is unchanged, as they were unable to identify the woman in question.

Recently improved RBML finding aids
Carl Remington papers, 1899-1905
“Personal secretary of Luke E. Wright (1846-1922), the second American Governor-General of the Philippines.”

Librarians’ Portraits collection, bulk 1880s-1950s
“This collection of photographs of librarians was transferred to RBML when the School of Library Service was closed in 1992. A good bit of the collection appears to have been assembled at the New York State Library School, Albany and presumably was part of the collection brought to Columbia in 1926, when the Albany school was merged into the new School of Library Service.”

Joseph Verner Reed papers – New York State Constitutional Convention of 1967, 1967
“Correspondence, memoranda, and printed material relating to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1967.”

Richard T. Baker Papers
“Author, Professor of Journalism, Methodist minister, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, 1961-1970.”

Geroid T. Robinson Papers
“Geroid T. Robinson, 1892-1971 (Columbia A.M. 1922; Ph.D. 1930) professor of Russian history at Columbia University.”

Robert Lee Hale papers, 1912-1958
“Professional correspondence, manuscripts, course materials, and printed works documenting the education and career of Robert Lee Hale (1884-1969), economist and Columbia University professor of law.”

William Clement Bryant papers, 1856-1895
“Letters written chiefly to Clement relating to the history of the Indian tribes of upper New York State. The letters are from researchers in this field such as J.S. Clark, George S. Conover, W.L. Stone, William H. Samson, William Kirby, and others and discuss newly found facts, eyewitness testimony of past events, and their own conclusions.”

Michel Butor papers, 1981 April – 1983
“Michel Butor (1926-2016) was a leading philosophical writer in the French “new novel” school and a university professor in the United States as well as in Europe.”

Partido Comunista Mexicano records, 1933-1959
“Correspondence, manuscripts, documents, lists, and subject files of the Mexican Communist Party (Partido Comunista Mexicano) from the 1950s. Included are organizational records of the national party as well as many local groups, and folders on a great range of topics including workers in the petroleum industry, teachers, relations with other national communist parties, finances, front groups, factionalism within the party, party conferences, party history, and biographical data.”

Jonathan Zeitlin comic books collection, 1957-1970
“The collection comprises a selection of comic books, mainly of the 1960s to 1970s, from Marvel, DC, and Harvey, as well as other educational comics.”

Edward J. Bermingham collection, 1948-1957
“Correspondence of Dwight D. Eisenhower and his friend Bermingham who first met when Eisenhower became President of Columbia. During his tenure as Columbia’s President and later, as commander of SHAPE, Eisenhower exchanged long letters with Bermingham, outlining in detail his views of world affairs. When Eisenhower became President of the United States, the correspondence continued, and the two men met at least twice at the White House.”

Vladimir Visson Papers, 1946-1986
“Correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, drawings and subject files primarily relating to Vladimir Visson’s years as exhibitions director of the Wildenstein Gallery. The extensive subject files concern the Hallmark Art Award and exhibitions Visson mounted for the Wildenstein Gallery including shows on Gauguin, Pissarro, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. Also included are Visson’s original manuscripts on Russian painters and autobiographical writings. There is correspondence from artists including Eugene Berman, Amédée Ozenfant and Eugene Speicher, and authors such as John Gunther, Paul van Zeeland and Louis Auchincloss.”

Ignat Arkhipovich Bilyi Papers, 1918-1973
“Ignat Arkhipovich Bilyi (1887-1973), Supreme Ataman of the Cossacks in Exile.
The papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, documents, subject files, newspaper clippings, printed materials, photographs, and drawings.”

Columbia University Libraries (CUL) remain closed until further notice to aid in the containment of COVID-19. You can keep abreast of plans for staged and limited reopening on the RBML homepage or the CUL status page.

Please be safe, wear your mask and take advantage of this time to engage with materials you may have collected on previous visits to the RBML. You are also welcome to explore these resources:

– CUL’s Digital Library Collections
– the Columbia University Archives online and
– the RBML’s Digital Collections and Exhibitions.