Author Archives: Kimberly Springer

About Kimberly Springer

Curator of Oral History Oral History Archives at Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library Columbia University

In Passing | Oral history with Justice John Paul Stevens

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died this week at the age of 99.  Nominated by Richard Nixon, Justice Stevens ruled on several pivotal cases that have shaped environmental policy, presidential elections and campaign financing.

The Columbia Center for Oral History interviewed Justice Stevens for its project, The Rule of Law. The project documents the state of human and civil rights in the post-9/11 world.

Read the transcript online to hear Justice Stevens’ reflections from the bench on Citizens United, capital punishment, affirmative action, shutting down Guantanamo Bay, the 2012 election and the use of advertising among other topics.

Oral history interview with Justice John Paul Stevens, Oral History Archives at Columbia (PDF)

In Passing | Composer, arranger Sid Ramin dies at 100

Award-winning composer, arranger and orchestrator Sid Ramin died this week at age 100. He was best known for his work as orchestrator for several prominent Broadway productions, including West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962). He also composed and arranged scores for films and television programs, including Candid Camera, All My Children (for which he won a Daytime Emmy), The Milton Berle Show, and the made-for-television 1973 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

Ramin was also well known for composing “Music to Watch Girls By,” written as a commercial jingle for Diet Pepsi and first released in 1966 as a single by Bob Crewe. Have a listen.

See the finding aid for Ramin’s collected papers here in the RBML.

The Oral History Archives announces a new book series

square word bubble with words oral history archives

The Oral History Archives at Columbia and the Columbia Center for Oral History Research are joining forces with Columbia University Press, the Columbia Center for Oral History and the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics to produce a new series of books on oral history methodology and practice.

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Pride Month and history in the RBML collections

Photo by Jiroe on Unsplash

Getting to tell your own story is a gift, but it means that you have to contend with other people’s stories, and I guess that can mean arguing, maybe for 50 years straight. And that’s O.K.  – Who Threw the First Brick at Stonewall? Let’s Argue About It

The RBML’s archival, manuscript, oral history and University Archives are full of materials from people who were out and proud, recently revealed queer collections and likely materials and people still somewhat closeted by historical forces and past archival practices rooted in homophobia.

You’re invite during PRIDE month, and every other month, to explore the collections we have on offer that begin to demonstrate the range of LGBTQIA people, voices and experiences. Some materials to start with include, but aren’t limited to:

Ephemera relating to the LGBT movement in Croatia // A collection of leaflets and cards and one button relating to the LGBT movement in Croatia. Several of the items were issued by Kontra or Iskorak, both based in Zagreb. // http://tiny.cc/rbml_CU_croatia_lgbt

And, by all means, if you come across items in our collections that show evidence of LGBTQIA histories, let us know so that we can update our records accurately.

Oral History | Aging, disability and medical care at Guantánamo

From The New York Times, “Guantánamo Bay as Nursing Home: Military Envisions Hospice Care as Terrorism Suspects Age“:

More than 17 years after choosing the American military base in Cuba as “the least worst place” to incarcerate prisoners from the battlefield in Afghanistan, after years of impassioned debates over the rights of the detainees and whether the prison could close, the Pentagon is now planning for terrorism suspects still held in the facility to grow old and die at Guantánamo Bay.

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research’s Rule of Law Oral History Project, initiated in 2008, explores the state of human and civil rights in the post-9/11 world.

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Collecting News | Obama presidency oral histories to be archived at Columbia

The Oral History Archives at Columbia (OHAC) is pleased to announce that it will be the sole repository of the official oral histories of the presidency of Barack Obama (CC ’83).

President Obama on the phone at his desk in the Oval Office with quote from President Bollinger about the value of oral history to understanding the presidency

From the University’s official announcement:

Starting this summer and over the next five years, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will conduct interviews with some 400 people, including senior leaders and policy makers within the administration, as well as elected officials, campaign staff, journalists, and other key figures—Republican and Democrat—outside the White House.

The Obama Presidency Oral History Project also will incorporate interviews with individuals representing different dimensions of daily American life, whose perspectives enable the archive to weave recollections of administration officials with the stories and experiences of people who were affected by the Administration’s decisions. This project will also examine Mrs. Obama’s work and legacy as First Lady.

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Newly Available | Oral histories documenting the Tunisian government transition

The Tunisian Transition Oral History Project’s thirty-eight interviews document the Tunisian revolution (2010-2011) and the period of the transitional governments (2011-2014), with a particular emphasis on the technocratic government of Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa (January 2014-December 2015).

(FILES) A photo taken on January 23, 2011 shows inhabitants of the central Tunisia region of Sidi Bouzid demonstrating in front of the Government palace in Tunis as they came from a poverty-stricken rural region where the crackdown against a wave of social protests in the final days of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year regime was at its harshest. Tunisian mediators of the socalled National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT, Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts UTICA, Tunisian Human Rights League LTDH and Tunisian Order of Lawyers) won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, for helping to create the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring, at a time when the country is under threat from Islamist violence, the Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced on October 9, 2015 .

AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID

Consistent with the composition of the technocratic government that it documents, the collection’s narrators come from a wide range of expertise: businesspeople, union leaders, NGO leaders, human rights advocates, and bureaucrats in the areas of security, education, economics, and more.

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research, a the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) conducted roughly 110 hours of interviews. Read more about the project on INCITE’s blog.

Newly Acquired | Papers of author Lydia Davis

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve acquired the archives of multi-award winning author Lydia Davis.

Her archive features corrected drafts of her 2004 novel, The End of the Story, and stories, personal correspondence and journals dating back to her adolescence, as well as notes and drafts relating to her translation projects and her 35 years of teaching.

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Oral history collection on addiction featured in NPR podcast, Throughline

Addiction and the opioid epidemic gripping the nation are investigated in a new NPR podcast, Throughline.

Taking advantage of decades of NPR’s archival sound and the Oral History Archives at Columbia’s collections, podcast co-host Rund Abdelfatah spent time here in the RBML listening to the voices and stories of people struggling with addiction. The interviews are part of Professor David Courtwright’s collection, Addicts Who Survived.* You can listen to the episode on NPR’s site.

* Addicts Who Survived is a collection undergoing processing, meaning it’s being transcribed, cataloged and preserved by OHAC’s archivist and the Libraries’ staff. 

RBML Pulitzer collections on PBS’ American Masters 📺📰📺📰📺

portrait of Pulitzer in suit and spectacles

Joseph Pulitzer, photo portrait. Photographer and date not listed.

Mere days ahead of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize announcements, tune in Friday, April 12, 2019 for the debut of a new program, Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People.

The makers of the long-running PBS series, American Masters, visited the RBML to examine the Pulitzer and World paper collections, speak with Curator for Performing Arts Jenny Lee and filmed a few scenes in the RBML reading room.

If you miss the program on terrestrial TV, you can watch it in the 28 days following the initial airing online for free.

“A journalist is the lookout on the bridge of the Ship of State.” – Joseph Pulitzer