Author Archives: Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Book History Colloquium 2018 | Huxleyed into the Full Orwell

September 26, 2018, 6:00pm
Butler 523

Cory Doctorow at lecture podium

Photo by Brendan Lynch via Flickr

Journalist and science fiction writer Cory Doctorow will talk about the millennia-old social compact of the book, and the arbitrary renegotiation of that contract in the age of ebooks, where prior restraint, restrictions on lending, donation and gifting, and invasive, surveillant technologies have become the norm.

He will investigate how technology and license agreements have gone on to colonize our relationships with other devices and systems, from voting machines to tractors, insulin pumps to thermostats.

Co-sponsored by the Brown Institue for Media Innovation, Heyman Center. RSVP here

Exhibition | Florenz Ziegfeld & Joseph Urban: Transforming Broadway

Starting on September 17th: come see how Florenz Ziegfeld & Joseph Urban transformed Broadway!

This exhibition from RBML’s vast Joseph Urban archive, features a selection of original drawings, set models, and plans created by Urban for Florenz Ziegfeld. These included all but one of the Ziegfeld Follies from 1915 through 1931, the Midnight Frolics, and numerous other Broadway shows and plays, including Century Girl, Sally, Rio Rita, Smiles, Show Girl, and Show Boat.

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For your next playlist: Oggie and the Blue Lions

If you enjoy big band music, you should listen to the Columbia Blue Lions.

1940s band and leader; dancers in conga line

The Blue Lions featured in the 1943 Columbian on page 202.

C. Ogden Beresford, or Oggie, was a member of the Columbia College Class of 1943. A trumpet player, Beresford joined the University Band, played in the Symphony Orchestra, and was a member of the dance band, the Columbia Blue Lions, which included a tenor sax player from Julliard, Sid Caesar. He participated in three Varsity Show productions, twice as a member of the Pony Ballet (1940, 1941) and once as a second lead (1942). (There was no Varsity Show in 1943.) After graduation, Beresford joined the Midshipmen’s School at Columbia and even served as an instructor for a year. He married Mary Louise Meyer, Columbia Business School Class of 1943. A World War II Navy veteran, he served on the USS Baltimore in the Pacific.

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What is this place? A short intro to RBML

That is the question we hear a lot at the beginning of the new academic year as students explore Butler Library and end up here, in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, aka “The Pink Palace.”

pink castle design and acronym rbml

Is there difference between a “castle” and a “palace?”

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections.  The range of collections in the RBML spans more than 4,000 years and includes rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; posters; art; comics & cartoons, and oral histories.

Forming the core of the collections: 500,000 printed books, 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, archives and records, and 10,000 (and counting) oral histories.

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Newly opened (or refreshed) collections – August 2018

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened* by RBML archivists.

* Some collections are not new, but have been re-processed and properly described. Consider them refreshed!

 

Aleksandr Kazem-Bek papers, 1898-2014

“The Aleksandr Kazem-Bek Papers consist of correspondence, family and
personal documents, writings, lectures, notes, manuscripts,
photographs, printed and research materials related to the life and
professional and political activities of Aleksandr Kazem-Bek – Russian
émigré social and political activist, founder and leader of the “Union
of Young Russia” (“Mladorossy”), professor of Russian language and
literature, and journalist. ”

A significant addition was processed, and the entire finding aid was
reviewed and improved.

Shihui Xiong papers, 1907-1974
“The Shihui Xiong papers mainly document the political life of Xiong.
The collection contains papers, photographs, and calligraphy scrolls
by him, dating from 1907 to 1974, with the bulk of the materials
focusing on his involvement in the northeast region from 1930 to
1948.”

This collection was re-processed and properly described. Continue reading

Friday is your chance to see “Enchanted Vision, an exhibition drawing on the Arthur Rackham Collection held here at the RBML.illustration of a sprite

Rackham, a British illustrator illustrated 50 major works beginning with Rip Van Winkle in 1905, Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winnie the Pooh, and other English and American classics.

The collection contains 26 letters by Rackham and nine Christmas cards either specially designed by him or incorporating designs made for his books. There are also letters to Rackham’s biographer, Derek Hudson, from Winifred Wheeler, daughter of Walter Freeman, a friend who started Rackham on his commercial career. The manuscript notebooks, galley proofs, and a printed copy of Hudson’s Arthur Rackham: His Life and Work are included.

In addition, the Columbia University Library has a collection of 413 Rackham drawings, watercolors, and oil paintings, 30 sketch books, and about 400 printed books and ephemera.

 

New Collection | Morningside resident’s papers document her fight against CU’s 1960s gentrification

Rachel Klepper, a summer intern with RBML’s archives, shares what she’s found through processing the Marie Runyon collection.

In the early 1960s, Marie Runyon received notice that she and her young daughter would have to leave their Morningside Drive apartment building just a few years after moving to the neighborhood. Columbia College of Pharmacy, the owner of the building until it was later sold to Columbia University, planned to move its campus from Lincoln Center to Morningside Heights and would be evicting the tenants.  Runyon quickly began what would become an intense, decades-long legal battle to keep her apartment and those of her neighbors, which would bring her to the forefront of conflict over real estate and gentrification in Morningside Heights.

A collection of Marie Runyon’s papers, newly available in the Columbia University Archives, documents her life and her fight against Columbia through court records and through letters, articles, and flyers documenting the work of neighborhood and student activists. These papers reflect Runyon’s outspokenness and the tenacity she brought to her personal life and her organizing work. They also demonstrate her commitment to highlighting critical questions about the impact of Columbia University’s expansion in Morningside Heights and Harlem on individual residents and on the racial and economic makeup of the neighborhood. Continue reading

New Publication | Researching and Writing about Police Abuse

Ronald Kitchen was walking to buy cookies for his young son on a summer evening in 1988 when Chicago detectives picked him up for questioning. As the officers’ car headed toward the precinct, the twenty-two-year-old called out the window to his family, “I’ll be back in forty-five minutes.”

It took him twenty-one years to make it home.

Kitchen was beaten and tortured by notorious police commander Jon Burge and his cronies until finally confessing to a gruesome quintuple homicide he did not commit. Convicted of murder and sentenced to die, he spent the next two decades in prison—including a dozen years on death row—before at last winning his release and exoneration.

My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row was published last week. In this Q&A co-author Thai Jones, Herbert H. Lehman Curator for American History at the RBML, talks about some of the opportunities and research challenges involved in working on this project.

 

RBML: What types of sources did you use to help write this book?
TJ: 
Ronald Kitchen has an extremely impressive memory and was able to recall so many poignant and telling stories and moments from even his earliest years, so all of the narrative material originated with him, through conversations, writings, and interviews. We were also able to use historical newspapers to trace key moments in his life, including newspaper reports about his arrest, and some of his own published pieces from his days on Death Row, when he was an activist against capital punishment. Kitchen’s defense attorneys provided us with trial transcripts, appeals filings, medical reports, and other legal documentation that were crucial to our efforts to reconstruct the details of his long battle with the criminal-justice system. Continue reading

New Collection | Black Journalists Oral History Project

Oral History master’s student and RBML graduate student worker, Kyna Patel, was part of the team that organized and processed a collection that documents important moments in black journalism in America.

The Black Journalists Oral History Project consists of interviews with journalists, editors, publishers, and various members of the black press about a wide range of issues. Conducted by Henry G. La Brie III in the 1970s, the interviews cover: aspects of running a newspaper (editing, printing, getting news, advertising, etc.), the Kerner Commission Report, the historical role of the black press, the white establishment press, and several other topics related to race and journalism.

yellow book cover for Perspectives of the Black Press 1974

Some of the oral history interviews in the Black Journalists Oral History Project. Mercer House Press.

In helping process this collection, I read and listened to transcripts and audio from these interviews and stumbled upon many things that were not on my radar. Accounts of the suburbanization and white flight’s effect on local black press’ circulation, how the success of Ebony paved the way for black models to be hired more for national advertising, and the obstacles and dangers encountered by journalists reporting and gathering-news-while-black were either new to me or expanded upon in a more real and accessible way than what I learned in school. Continue reading

Newly available collections – July 2018

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened by RBML archivists.

Scuola Grande Synagogue Records
“Records of the Scuola Grande Synagogue (also known as the Norsa
Synagogue or the Scuola del Torrazzo) and the Jewish community of
Mantua, Italy, dating between 1707 and 1829.”
https://findingaids.library.columbia.edu/ead//nnc-rb/ldpd_8507583

Marc Raeff Papers
“Correspondence, research materials, and personal papers of Marc
Isaakovich Raeff (1926-2008), a Russian history scholar and Bakhmeteff
Professor of Russian Studies at Columbia University. ”
https://findingaids.library.columbia.edu/ead//nnc-rb/ldpd_6857257

Core Curriculum records
“The Core Curriculum records contain teaching and administrative
materials chiefly pertaining to the longstanding Columbia College
courses Contemporary Civilization and Humanities A (now called
Literature Humanities). Materials include syllabi, exams, quizzes,
teaching resources, administrative correspondence and memos, and
curricular reviews and reports. The Core Curriculum records contain
limited material pertaining to Core classes beyond Contemporary
Civilization and Literature Humanities.”
https://findingaids.library.columbia.edu/ead/nnc-ua/ldpd_6953649

Arthur Goren papers
Goren was a historian and professor of American
Jewish history at the Hebrew University and Columbia University:
https://findingaids.library.columbia.edu/ead//nnc-rb/ldpd_12483420 Continue reading