Author Archives: Kimberly Springer

About Kimberly Springer

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

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

Library Week Feature: what can we learn from Nella Larsen’s application to library school?

We see you every day, handing you a lockers key as you walk in each morning, and receiving it back toward the end of the day.
Most often you’re hunkered down over a particular archive, getting to understand a portion of one of our archives better than anyone who works in the RBML. We await the longer scholarly projects that you’re developing from this research but in the nearer term we thought it would be interesting to give a preview of your work.
 
In this brief interview, Professor Emerita Barbara Hochman of Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics tells us about her research for her recently published article, “Filling in Blanks: Nella Larsen’s Application to Library School” (paywall). 
 

 

Working in an archive, one never knows which scrap of paper will be revealing.

What brings you to Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library?

I came to RBML to examine the library school application of Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen. I had been intrigued for some time by both her fiction and her career trajectory. She had successfully transitioned from nursing, to librarianship, to authorship in less than a decade, but although her novel Passing won substantial acclaim when it appeared in 1929, her story “Sanctuary” drew plagiarism charges just one year later. Larsen subsequently cut off her ties with the literary world she knew, stopped writing, and returned to nursing; she died alone and forgotten, leaving no papers. While working on an essay about the way Larsen used her reading in her writing (“Love and Theft: Plagiarism, Blackface, and Nella Larsen’s ‘Sanctuary,’American Literature [September 2016]: 509-540) I learned from George Hutchinson’s biography that Larsen was the first African American to be accepted to [Columbia’s] library school in the United States, and that her application was housed at Columbia. I was curious to see the material artifact in its entirety. Continue reading

100 years of Bauhaus

Bauhaus, the German school where crafts met fine arts and spawned a style, brand and movement, turns 100 this year.

Walter Gropius received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at a 1961 commencement. Columbia President Grayson Kirk recognized him as “a formulator of architectural controls which help to guide the Contemporary Movement” and as a “eminently vital practitioner” within the Bauhaus Movement.page from Walter Gropius oral history transcript

Stop in to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library to read  Gropius’ 1961 lecture, part of the Architecture Project in the Oral History Archives at Columbia.

New oral history collection available | Columbia’s LGBTQ Oral History Project

Newly available in the RBML’s reading room and oral history archives is a six-interview collection detailing the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ people and allies affiliated with Columbia University. Low Library lit up with rainbow colored lights

The LGBTQ Columbia University Oral History Project includes interviews with noted alumni and affiliates John D’Emilio, Tony Kushner, Robbie Kaplan, Ann Kansfield, Laura Pinsky and Dennis Mitchell.

Read more about the project on the Center for Oral History Research’s website.

Now Showing | Ilia Zdanevich: The Tbilisi Years

Chang Octagon Gallery | 7 March – 12 July 2019

Tbilisi, Ilia Zdanevich’s hometown, became a haven for artists of all stripes during the Russian Civil War. In this multi-lingual environment where feuds among artistic schools had been suspended, Zdanevich worked out the principles of “mature” zaum and a corresponding approach to book design.

This exhibition, curated by Thomas J. Kitson, begins before the First World War with Zdanevich’s apprenticeship as a propagandist for the Larionov group in competition with Futurist rivals and proceeds through masterworks he designed and typeset as a founding member of 41°.

We include a selection of works by his brother and collaborator, Kirill, and a display of interconnected items associated with other poets, composers, and visual artists who frequented the Fantastic Tavern, center of Tbilisi artistic life between 1917 and 1920.

The exhibition is part of “Displacement and Display: The Ongoing Revolutions of Ilia Zdanevich,” a Global Humanities project led by Professor Valentina Izmirlieva (Slavic Department) and sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Humanities at Columbia University.

The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Bakhmeteff Archive of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Global Studies unit of Columbia University Libraries

Talks & Workshops | Oral History and the Future: Archives and Embodied Memory

The Oral History Master of Arts Program is pleased to announce the spring portion of its 2018-2019 workshop series: Oral History and the Future: Archives and Embodied Memory

Oral history is a conversation about the past that takes place in the present and is oriented towards the future. How is this future orientation made real?

Oral history as a research practice, particularly in the United States, has been defined by a focus on recording and archiving in institutional repositories. But people can be archives too, and oral history-telling practices more broadly often depend on embodied memory, on person-to-person transmission. And because people have been formally recording and archiving oral histories for over seventy years, we are now living in the futures imagined by earlier generations of oral historians.

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