New from RBML’S Archivist | September 2021

Kevin Schlottmann, RBML’s head archivist, shares a selection of new and updated finding aids, as well as newly available collections.

See below for newly processed, newly digitized, and/or newly described RBML collections, including some wonderful oral histories that are now fully available online. 

Kudos as always to the many staff members, both in RBML and in the Preservation and Digital Conversion Department, Original & Special Materials Cataloging and Digital Library & Scholarly Technologies, that contribute to making our collections more accessible!

Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

Newly Processed and Digitized Oral History Collections

Sheila Michaels civil rights organization oral history collection, 1998-2005 [detailed blog post]

The collection documents the histories of 20th century activists who used nonviolent direct action to advocate for civil rights and peace. The interviews were taken by Sheila Michaels, a civil rights activist and feminist. The collection is particularly rich regarding the history of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and for many years the OH Archives referred to this as the “CORE project.” Topics discussed include the founding of CORE; major CORE initiatives such as the Freedom Rides of 1961 and Freedom Summer of 1964; local CORE chapters including New York (Harlem), Saint Louis, Brooklyn, New Orleans; narrators’ personal experiences with demonstrations, picketing, and sit-ins; CORE factions and other organizations within the civil rights movement; and CORE’s pivot to Black Power and Black nationalism in the late 1960s. Peace movements and second wave feminism are also discussed in great detail. While this collection was added to the DLC in the context of TBM/AMI, the collection’s extensive processing work preceded that project by several years. Since 2015, OHAC has digitized the tapes, transcribed and audit-edited the interviews, and cataloged all interviews to OHAC’s most detailed level of description.

Individual Interviews

More interviews were processed and added the DLC from this catch-all collection of interviews that were acquired independently of each other. This period saw the ingest of a batch of priority Individual Interviews and a batch of large Individual Interviews (8-14 tapes each). Over 120 tapes were digitized for these batches. Some highlights include Thurgood Marshall (1980), Robert Indiana, Boris Bakhmeteff, Richard Aurelio, and Art D’Lugoff.

Manhattan Plaza oral history collection, 1986-1987

Manhattan Plaza is a high-rise apartment building located at 400 and 484 West 43rd Street in New York City. It was built with federal subsidies and opened in 1977. Many residents living in Manhattan Plaza were performing artists. The interviews of this collection were taken as part of the celebration of the Manhattan Plaza’s tenth anniversary in June of 1987.

Alexandra Kollontai oral history collection, 1976-1978

This collection of interviews on the life and career of Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952) was undertaken by Sonya Baevsky as part of a larger project on the Russian revolutionary and diplomat. Some of the taped interviews are with persons who knew Mme. Kollontai; others discuss the significance of her career for Russian history, revolutionary movements, and women’s history.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1987-1990

Audio and video interviews document the history of WILPF and peace movements in the 20th century.

Debevoise Plimpton Lyons & Gates project, 1981-1983

A collection of interviews on a prominent “white shoe” law firm.

Newly Digitized Archival Audio and Video Content

Archival AMI material was recently digitized and linked to finding aids for the Arthur Mitchell papers, the Language & Culture Archive of Ashkenazic Jewry, and the Fred Friendly papers.

Newly Processed Archival Collections

Sylvia Ardyn Boone Papers, 1925-2007, bulk 1961-1993

“This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Sylvia Ardyn Boone, a scholar of Art History with a focus on African art, and the first African-American woman to receive tenure at Yale University. The collection includes manuscripts, correspondence, course materials and syllabi, research notes, photographs, printed materials, photographs, video and sound recordings, and other papers relating to professional projects. Also included are dissertation manuscripts for recipients of the Sylvia Ardyn Boone Memorial Prize at Yale.”

Darcus Howe papers, 1965-2008

“The collection documents the career and personal life of Trinidadian-born Black British activist and journalist Darcus Howe (1943-2017).”

Reprocessed in preparation for reformatting from analog to digital format

Collections that were newly acquired and immediately processed, or with newly processed additions, include the Archons of Colophon records, Ian Ballantine papers, George D Woods papers, Andrew Alpern Collection of Indentures, Arthur Mitchell papers, Miscellaneous Judaica Archive, David Kyle Fanzines, Patti LuPone papers, Jack Beeson papers, Columbia University Press records, William J. Higginson Papers, and the Georges Borchardt Inc. records.

Updated Finding Aids

David Nachmansohn papers, 1918-1981

“Correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, memorabilia, and printed materials primarily concerning biochemistry. Correspondents include 24 Nobel Prize winners, including Otto Loewi, Otto Meyerhof, Archibald Vivian Hill, Feodor Lynes, Severo Ochoa, and Otto Warburg. Other correspondents include Sir Hans Krebs, John Farquhar Fulton, Jean Pierre Changeux, and others in Europe, Israel, Japan, and the USSR as well as the USA.”

Robert Joseph Flaherty papers, 1884-1970

“Professional and personal papers of Robert J. Flaherty and of his associates Frances Hubbard Flaherty and David Flaherty, concerning his career as an explorer in the Hudson Bay area, and as a film-maker from 1913 until 1951.”

William A Dunning papers

“William Archibald Dunning (1857-1922) was an American historian and political scientist at Columbia University noted for his work on the Reconstruction era of the United States. He founded the informal Dunning School of interpreting the Reconstruction era through his own writings and the Ph.D. dissertations of his numerous students. Dunning has been criticized for advocating white supremacist interpretations, his “blatant use of the discipline of history for reactionary ends” and for offering ‘scholarly legitimacy to the disenfranchisement of southern blacks and to the Jim Crow system.'”

A second set of materials, described under a separate collection record, was incorporated, and the PDF finding aids for both updated. Bio note updated to note Dunning’s place in Reconstruction historiography.

Bela Bartok Manuscripts, 1940-1942

“The collection consists of three manuscripts by Bela Bartok, 1940-1943. These manuscripts totaling approximately 2,170 pages are as follows: 1) Romanian Folk Music – Vol. 1 Instrumental Melodies, Vol. 2 Vocal Melodies, Vol. 3 Texts; 2) Turkish Folk Music; and 3) Serbo-Croatian Table of Materials. Also, a small group of letters by Bartók and other concerning his association with Columbia University.”

Aleksei Alekseevich and Nadezhda Vladimirovna Brusilov Papers, 1880-1940

“Aleksei Alekseevich Brusilov (1853-1926), Imperial General during World War I. In 1920 joined the Red army. Died in Moscow from pneumonia. Nadezhda Vladimirovna Brusilova-Zhelikhovskaia (1864—1938), writer, Brusilov’s second wife. In 1930 she left for Czechoslovakia for treatment and remained in exile.”

Nikolai Nikolaevich Chebyshev Papers, 1887-1937

“Nikolai Nikolaevich Chebyshev (1865-1937), procurator, first in Kiev, then in Moscow, and Senator under the Provisional Government, journalist. After emigrating to France, Chebyshev wrote for the Parisian Russian language periodical “Vozrozhdenie” where he was a member of the staff.”

Rakhil’ Samoilovna Chekver Papers, 1939-1957

“Rakhil Samoilovna Chekver (1893, Romny, Poltava province – 1957, New York), poet, publisher, wrote under the name of Irina Iassen. Since 1923 in emigration in the United States.”