Author Archives: Kimberly Springer

About Kimberly Springer

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

Featured oral history | Max Pruss, the captain of the Hindenburg airship

One can’t help but notice the explosion of podcasts available for download from sources both commercial and nonprofit.

The Columbia Center for Oral History Archives fields requests for permission to use excerpts from our oral history collection in radio and podcast productions. In addition to any restrictions or permissions that might apply, as Curator of Oral History, I consider the integrity of the project: will the oral history narrator’s story be served and/or augmented by the production?

A recent example of good use of our oral history collection is this story from the CBC’s podcast, The Hook. Max Pruss, air pilot of the ill-fated Hindenburg. Pruss sat down with, as it was called then, the Oral History Research Office in 1960 as part of our Aviation Project. For The Hook, Pruss’ granddaughter Viola, produced this documentary, Finding Max.

Hindeburg airship crash

Photo | David Erickson | e-strategycom | Flickr

 

Kent State shootings reverberated on Columbia’s campus

On May 3, the editors of the college newspapers at Brown, Bryn Mawr, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Haverford, Princeton, Rutgers, Sarah Lawrence, and the University of Pennsylvania agreed to publish a joint editorial condemning the American invasion of Cambodia and calling for a nationwide university strike to demand “an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Southeast Asia.” The editorial said in part:

“We must cease business as usual in order to allow the universities to lead and join in a collective strike to protest America’s escalation of the war. We do not call for a strike by students against the university, but a strike by the entire university— faculty, students, staff, and administrators alike.”

 

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The Grateful Dead were here at Columbia

In May ’68, responding to a request from student protest organizers, fusion rock band The Grateful Dead played a free concert on Low Plaza. Band member Mickey Hart writes:

Always up for an adventure, we of course, went right along. Since the police and guards were closing off access to the majority of the campus – we were “smuggled” on campus to Low Library Plaza in the back of a bread delivery truck. Equipment and all.

Click through from rare photos and video of the performance.

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Now available | Digitized early issues of The Blue and White

The Blue and White was founded in 1890 as a broadsheet weekly newspaper – looking similar to its competition the then bi-weekly Columbia Spectator.

After 14 issues it changed format and became a monthly humorous and literary magazine. Content included lecture announcements, student poetry, critical essays, illustrations and drawings, and reports of what was happening around the campus, from athletics to campus gossip. Of note is the “Told Between Puffs” column written under the pseudonym of Verily Veritas.

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New in Collections | Comics@Columbia in circulation

Here’s what’s new in the comics and graphic novel collection here in the RBML.

CUNY professor Bert Hansen contributed over six dozen educational comics, from Popeye giving career advice to Mexican biographies.

Materials from Jerry Robinson’s library continue to grow, such as this 1947 guide to the comics business written by a young Stan Lee and illustrated by Golden Age artist Ken Bald.

A colleague contributed funds to help acquire a 1940 New Yorker cartoon by one of my favorites, Richard Taylor.

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Columbia Lions | Frank Diehl Fackenthal

The RBML’s University Archivists feature a different graduate as part of their Columbia Lion series. Learn more information about Lions in the University Archives Collections and on exhibit in the RBML reading room cases. 

“I made the university my hobby and stuck around.
My idea was that somebody had to watch the oven.”
“Oven Watcher,” The New Yorker, 30 November 1946

black and white photo of Frank D. Fackenthal, Historical Photograph Collection, Columbia University Archives

Frank D. Fackenthal, Historical Photograph Collection, Columbia University Archives

Frank Diehl Fackenthal arrived at Columbia in the fall of 1902. It was only the fifth year of the Morningside Heights campus and Nicholas Murray Butler was starting his first year as President. While still a student, Fackenthal started working as a secretary for student employment in October 1905 and would continue to serve the University for the next 43 years. As he used to say, he “came up on the office boy route.” He served as Chief Clerk (1906-1910), University Secretary (1910-1937), Provost (1937-1945), Acting President (1945-1948), and Trustee (1948-1967).

The position of Provost had been vacant for 10 years, but President Butler reestablished the office for Fackenthal to serve as his official second-in-command. After Butler’s retirement, Fackenthal was appointed by the Trustees as Acting President and served in that role during the three-year-long search for a new president. Typical of his work ethic, during his years in the president’s office, it was said that Fackenthal signed each of the diplomas individually, taking a batch of them to Brooklyn with him every night in his briefcase. The 1947 Columbian was dedicated to this loyal alumnus and consummate administrator: “We feel that you have done more than is expected from a man in your office to promote full understanding between the administration, faculty, and the student body.”

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Was your grandfather a Columbia engineer?

At the University Archives we receive a number of requests every year about Columbia alumni: a grandfather, great aunt, parent, cousin, etc. For this purpose, we put together a research guide to help genealogists find information about former Columbia students. The guide offers the most popular or most frequently consulted sources, both online and available to researchers in person in our reading room.

survey with handwriting from 1926

1926 Columbia engineering student survey

We recently processed a collection of materials ideal for researchers interested in former engineering students, either an undergraduate or graduate student, who attended Columbia (whether or not they received a degree), and who were in attendance between the 1860s and 1927: the School of Engineering biographical records, 1926-1927.

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Fire tweets marking Columbia ’68 protest today

Today marks 50 years since the infamous Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Students Afro-American Society (SAS) rally at the Sun Dial.

The gathering kicked off a week long student protest primarily focused on the construction of a new university gym on public land in Morningside Park and university ties to the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). The week included the take over of five buildings on campus, cancelled classes, counter protests, many meetings, press conferences, and much media coverage.

The week ended in a violent police bust that then led to an end of semester strike by students — an organizing strategy that still echoes today on campus?

Dramatic times indeed.

african american child holding protest sign 1968

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Now available | Photo album collections ready for researchers

The University Archives is working hard to bring more and more of its collections out of hiding and make them available to researchers. As part of that effort we recently published finding aids for three Columbia photograph album collections: two featuring scenes of the Morningside campus from the 1930s and 1940s and one from President Nicholas Murray Butler.

The Walter L. Bogert Photograph album, 1932-1943, captures views of Columbia campus and of Morningside Heights taken by alumnus W.L. Bogert (AB 1888, AM 1889, LLB 1934). He lived at 25 Claremont Avenue and produced a photographic record of his alma mater and neighborhood. Some of his campus building photographs were included in the 1940 Columbia University calendar. This album serves as a comprehensive source for campus views of this period and includes scenes of Student Army Training Corps (SATC) reviews.

Butler Library, 1939

Butler Library, 1939

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