Now Available | Columbia College Today records

At the University Archives, we hold two major Columbia photograph collections. One is the Historical Photograph Collection, which is the original or the earliest collection put together by Columbiana and University Archives staff over the years. The other is the Office of Public Affairs Photograph Collection, which is where you find the work of the University Photographers. We recently processed a collection mostly of photographs which offers yet another visual perspective on Columbia: the Columbia College Today records.

Low Library, Summer 1978. Scan 5268. Columbia College Today records, University Archives.

Columbia College Today or CCT is the alumni magazine of Columbia College, the undergraduate liberal arts college at Columbia University in the City of New York. First published in 1954, it is now published three times a year by the Columbia College Office of Alumni Affairs and Development for College alumni, faculty, parents, students and friends. Issues include alumni, professors and students profiles, College news, book excerpts, letters from senior staff, the always popular class notes and obituaries, along with event coverage for homecoming, commencement and reunion.  

In 2016, thanks to a gift from the board of the Columbia University Club Foundation, CCT and the Columbia University Libraries digitized back issues from 1954 through and including Summer 2016 and made them available on the Internet Archive. This donation was made in recognition of the 18 and half years that Alex Sachare CC 1971 was CCT’s editor (1998-2016). The issues have been indexed so readers can easily search for articles, names and topics or just browse through individual issues.

In addition to making the back issues easily accessible, we recently received and processed CCT’s analog or paper records, most of which are the photographs taken for and used in the magazine. The Columbia College Today records offer a whole new set of often unique images to our collections. There are portraits of alumni, faculty and staff as well as images of campus and events, mostly from the 1970s to the 1990s. One of the images that surprised us was this photo of Low Library. You see the columns and the imposing façade, the students sitting on the steps, walking by Low Plaza, but maybe you’ve noticed that there is something missing. Or more like someone is missing. There is no Alma.

Alma returns to campus, September 1978. Scan 2398. Office of Public Affairs photograph collection, University Archives.

In May 1978, just as the student finished the semester, Alma Mater also took some time away from campus after 75 years on the same spot. Alma spent her summer at the Tallix Foundry in Peekskill, NY, where they were able to fix the damage done to her chair by a 1970 bombing. In addition to some surface repairs, they also applied a new patina. Alma Mater returned restored and renewed on September 15, 1978. While there are multiple photographs of her triumphant return on a very rainy day, the view of the empty base from the summer of 1978 has been a great find.

Didn’t know about Alma’s “vacation”? Check out Julie Golia’s (GSAS 2010) article on Alma Mater on the University Archives website. You can learn more about Alma’s history, see historical photographs, and enjoy this loving account of Alma through the years.