News from the RBML’s Archivists and Collections Management Specialists | December 2020

Kevin Schlottmann, RBML’s Head Archivist, shares these updates about finding aids that our archivist and collections management specialists have stewarded over the past month and made available for RBML researchers – a season of bounty even in a global pandemics!

Newly digitized oral history collections

Gail Mary Killian and Stephen Desroches sound recordings, 1970-2003

“The majority of the collection’s interviews were taken by Gail Mary Killian and document her life in the 1970s-1980s as a woman living with Down syndrome in Eastern Massachusetts. Killian recorded her birthday starting in 1970, and many recordings capture the conversations that took place at these celebrations, which were attended by family members and neighbors.”

*Inclusivity requires that we think beyond traditional disciplinary methods and boundaries.  How we can, as a contemporary archive and special collections unit, include people living with disabilities in our collections and research practice? The Killian-Desroches recordings expand how we think about the curiosity inherent in oral history as a discipline. What can we learn from people previously excluded from our collections who are adept interlocutors? – Kimberly Springer, Curator, Oral History

Eisenhower Administration oral history project: one of the Oral History Archives at Columbia’s largest and most researched collections, now digitized in-full. Audio was completely digitized as part of Columbia’s Mellon-funded Audio-visual/Moving Image initiative. Over 35,000 pages of transcripts, digitized from microfiche or paper between 2016-2018, were also submitted and are now accessible in the Columbia University Libraries’ Digital Library Collection.

Addicts Who Survived oral history collection: “The collection is comprised of interviews taken for a New York State Division of Substance Abuse Services-sponsored oral history project, and many were featured in David Courtwright, Herman Joseph, and Don Des Jarlais’ monograph Addicts Who Survived : An Oral History of Drug Use in America, 1923-1965 [full-text available online with Columbia UNI]. Interviews document drug use, enforcement, trafficking, and treatment from the early 20th century through the 1980s.”

Lawyers Who Went South oral history collection: “The interviews document the experiences of lawyers who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, with a particular focus on the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee. Narrators address civil rights, civil liberties, activism, and the theoretical and practical aspects of pursuing social change in the legal system.” Thomas Hilbink’s interviews in this collection were used as research for a new book by a CU alum, Matthew vanMeter (’16)’s Deep Delta Justice.

Lenox Hill Hospital: “The collection documents this history of the history of the Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side of New York City.”

Ethnic Groups and American Foreign Policy Project: “This collection of interviews was conducted by Dr. Judith Goldstein to document the impact of American ethnic groups on the formulation of American foreign policy and their interaction with Congress in the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations.”

Henry Knox Sherrill project: “A group of interviews with friends, family and colleagues of Bishop Henry Knox Sherrill, centering on his term as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, 1947-1958.”

Catholic Peace Movement oral history collection

LaGuardia oral history collection: Small compilation of interview excerpts on New York City in the 1930s-1940s.

Highlight of the Month

Frances Perkins at work for the Factory Investigation Commission, circa 1911.
Frances Perkins Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Frances Perkins papers, 1895-1965

“Correspondence, manuscripts, notes, drafts of speeches, appointment books, subject files, documents, photographs, memorabilia and printed materials.”

Frances Perkins was one of the most influential American women of the mid-20th century.  She was the first woman to serve as a cabinet secretary, and remains the longest-tenured labor secretary.

Newly available and discoverable digitized AV content

Bella Abzug digitized audio-visual material

Lots of great 1970s NYC political content, with much more on the way.


Newly created or updated finding aids

Toni Strassman papers, 1937-1984

“Correspondence, memoranda, contracts, royalty statements, manuscripts, diaries, daybooks, photographs, and printed material of Strassman. The correspondence is with authors and book and magazine publishers, covering nearly forty years of Miss Strassman’s career as a literary agent. Of particular interest are the files concerning the works of William Goyen, Harry Mark Petrakis, and Friderike Zweig, the first wife of Stefan Zweig.”

Rose Nadler Franzblau papers, 1930-1978

“Papers containing correspondence, manuscripts, notes, radio scripts, letters asking Franzblau’s advice, clippings, memoranda, announcements, photographs, tape recordings, records, books, pamphlets, and memorabilia. She kept the vast number of letters asking her advice and the typescripts of her replies. Among the cataloged correspondents are Ann Landers, Jo Mielziner, Dorothy Schiff, and Abigail Van Buren.”

Jessica Dragonette papers, 1936-1972

“Concert and radio singer. Photographs, clippings, and programs, as well as inscribed copies of her books, Faith Is a Song and Your Voice and You. Portions of the typescript and autograph manuscripts of the latter book are also included. ”

Catherine S. Crary papers, 1724-1826

“Letters, manuscripts, and documents collected by Crary primarily for use in the writing of her book on American Tories, The Price of Loyalty (1973). ”

John H. Mundy collection of correspondence on Bibliothèque de Toulouse’s Ms 609, 1933-1952

“A collection of about 130 letters and 12 documents concerning the Toulouse Bibliotheq́ue Municipale Ms. 609 – Collection Doat register, 1245-1246. Included are letters from Merriam Sherwood Mantz to Prof. Austin P. Evans with carbons of his replies on her European research from 1933-1952 for his upcoming book on inquisitional registers, and some correspondence concerning the funding of this project by Columbia University.”

Joseph Boromé papers, 1939-1981

“Joseph Alfred Boromé was a historian who compiled and edited the correspondence of diverse figures, from librarian and scholar Justin Winsor and Reconstruction Senator Hiram Revels to English abolitionist John Candler and Haitian historical figure Toussaint Louverture. ”

Juan J. Linz papers, 1936-2010, bulk 1950-1989

“The Juan J. Linz papers contain correspondence, personal documents, awards, photographs, notes, writings, speeches, lectures and courses notes, research files, press coverage and interviews, and printed material, dating from 1920s to 2010. The materials also include one box of materials on Columbia Student Unrest in 1968. The collection provide an insight on Juan J. Linz’s family and childhood as well as his education and his work as a political scientist and a professor.”

Calvin Sutliff Hathaway papers, 1941-1954

“Hathaway served in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Service of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs/Military Government Section in the European Theater of Operations from Sept. 1943 to May 1946. Later, as head of the Cooper Union Museum, he was active in the campaign to return to Germany over 200 art works taken from Berlin museums.”

John Latouche papers, 1930-1960

“John Treville Latouche, American lyricist, died when only 38 years old, leaving behind a legacy of beautiful and stirring lyrics. His collaborators included Duke Ellington, Vernon Duke, Earl Robinson, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Moross, Douglas Moore, and many more musicians of note.”

Charles Wilson Mixer papers, 1936-1971

“Assistant Director, Columbia University Libraries.”

John Alden Jamieson papers, 1940-1952

“Officer in the Library Section of the War Department Special Services Division. Jamieson’s study was sponsored by the American Library Association under a grant from The Carnegie Corporation.”

George William Hill papers, 1900

“Manuscripts of articles and essays, published and unpublished by Hill. The manuscripts relate to topics in celestial mechanics and astronomy. Also, a manuscript of his Canadian trip: Account of a trip from Lake Superior to James Bay, 1880.”

William Brown Meloney – Mitchel and Purroy papers, 1830-1942

“Correspondence, manuscripts, documents, photographs, memorabilia and printed materials of John Mitchel, John Purroy Mitchel, and other members of the Mitchel and Purroy families. The collection concerns Irish nationalism, family matters, Purroy family business interests in Central America, the John Purroy Mitchel Memorial and William Brown Meloney’s files relating to his research and writing of “The Story of John Purroy Mitchel” along with the manuscript and typescript drafts for this unpublished biography.”

George Macy papers, 1916-1970

“Letters, documents, and printed materials documenting Macy’s publishing career, including that relating to the Nonesuch Press, dating from 1941 to 1960.”

Mott family papers, 1840-1954

Albert Ulmann papers, 1888-1964

“Author, stockbroker. Ulmann wrote works of light fiction and histories of New York City.”

John Masefield papers, 1912-1972

“Correspondence, manuscripts, art works, and printed materials by and about the English Poet Laureate John Masefield.”