Author Archives: University Archives

Dining with Homer: University Commons in 1919

University Commons Artwork

Detail of “The Battle,” Homer’s Iliad, XVI.565-566 from the University Commons dining room (Scan #4707). Historical Photograph Collection, Box 177 folder 4, Columbia University Archives

The University Archives exhibition cube currently features some photographs of the University Commons, the on-campus dining room in the old University Hall located behind Low Library. The Commons had served as a highly-efficient cafeteria while the student-soldiers of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) were on campus in 1918-1919. With the end of World War I, a committee was tasked with devising a plan to make the unattractive and previously barely-used University Commons more appealing to the students and staff. Management was placed in the hands of University officials who had known success at Teachers College and during the SATC days. In the weeks following the Summer Session of 1919 the entire look of the room was transformed: paintings were placed on the walls featuring scenes from Greek vases, surrounded by verses from Homer and Hesiod, and even the rafters were decorated. The changes were a huge success.

Continue reading

New Year and New Records about a New President

Dr. M. Moran Weston and President Andrew W. Cordier

Trustee and Rector of St. Philip’s Church Dr. M. Moran Weston and Columbia University President Andrew W. Cordier at his investiture ceremony held on December 19, 1970 at Low Library. Scan 4707. Office of Public Affairs Photograph Collection – Series II. Negatives, Box 53, Roll 2, Frame 13. Columbia University Archives.

Every January, archival records that were previously restricted become “open” or available to researchers. At the University Archives, there is a standard restriction of 25 years from the date of creation for administrative records, a 50-year restriction for trustee records and a 75-year restriction for student records. This means, for example, that with the New Year 2020, administrative records up to 1994 are now open. Most of the newly accessible records can be found in many of our frequently consulted collections, such as the Office of the Provost records. However, there is one set of records that just opened that is particularly interesting: Presidential Search records (UA#0174), Series II. The 1968 Presidential Search records. Continue reading