Author Archives: Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library

From the University Archives | Negotiations over Columbia’s MLK Memorial

When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated over 50 years ago this week, Columbia University responded as most other institutions did – with shock and grieving. Flags were set to fly at half-mast until after Dr. King’s funeral and President Kirk sent a telegram on April 5, 1968 to Dr. King’s widow expressing condolences on behalf of the university community.Kirk condolence telegram to coretta scott king

A decision was also made to hold a campus memorial service in St. Paul’s Chapel at 3pm on April 9 – the day of the King funeral. Initially it was stated that the University would close starting at 3pm so all could attend the service. Then the administration received a letter dated April 6, 1968 from a group calling themselves “Concerned Black Students”. They argued that the University should close for the entire day on April 9 out of respect to Dr. King and what he stood for.

Among their points: “We realize that closing a university is a drastic action. But we feel that the crisis in America is an imperative for such action. We are aware of your telegram to Mrs. King and of the memorial service planned by Columbia. However, we would consider anything less than a complete shutdown of the University as an obvious affront to the memory of Dr. King and the principles that he stood for.” letter from Columbia Concerned black students to kirk

The letter was hand-delivered to Columbia Security Desk in Low Library at 9:30pm on Saturday April 6 after they tried to give it to President Grayson Kirk at his residence. Their message was clearly received by administration the next morning.

By Monday April 8 notices were posted that “In respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the University will be closed on Tuesday, 9 April 1968.”

To see how this and the campus memorial service all played out, follow @1968CU on Twitter

 

 

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Our colleagues in Global Studies sat down with RBML archivists Chris Laico to discuss archives and his daily work with the Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research.

I view my work as similar to an eternal graduate student, in a good way. I learn something every day. There is a fundamental need to understand the context of an archival collection in order to do it justice, and be able to process it as neutrally and as efficiently as possible.

judge with gavel that spews flowers

I focus on the power of archives to tell a story, to not allow someone in a power position to say: “this did not happen”.

Most archives, or I should say, most processing of archives, support a human right, a right of representation, of having, a voice, a perspective, a community inscribed in history. This is especially true for minorities, or under-represented groups. It is the politics of representation, of what and who creates a canon, a narrative, of who gets heard and who has a seat at the table. Now that’s an interesting question.

Read the entire interview here.

Global Sexualities in the RBML Collections

The  Columbia Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities (CRIGHS) recently launched a website and research guide describing approximately 150 archival collections, databases, oral histories, and other sources available across the Columbia and Barnard libraries of interest to historians of sexuality.

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Butler Banner is an exhibit led by Columbia University students and supported and sponsored by Columbia University Libraries. Based on an artifact in the Libraries’ collections and an historic campus event, the exhibit aims to foster conversations about representation in campus spaces, collections, and scholarship.

Throughout Butler you’ll find different aspects of the Banner to engage with, including here in the RBML, a segment of the original, 1989 Butler banner.

News from RBML’s Archivists | October 2019

vintage assorted books on shelf

Photo credit: Roman Craft

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections new from the RBML

Here are some new and updated finding aids, reflecting work by archivists in archival processing, collections management, and university archives, as well as by our graduate student internship program. – KWS

Marie Mattingly Meloney Collection on Marie Curie
“The bulk of the collection deals with Marie Curie’s travels in the United States in 1921 and 1929, as a result of Marie Mattingly Meloney’s fundraising campaigns to purchase radium for Curie’s experiments. It includes correspondence with, photographs of, and manuscripts and printed material by and about Marie Curie. There is also an academic cap worn by Marie Curie while accepting honorary degrees in the United States, and a watch given to Meloney by Curie.”

Marie Curie – Mobile Military Hospital X-Ray-Unit circa 1915

The American Assembly records, 1950-2007
“This collection contains the administrative papers from 1950 to 1970s, which document the establishment of the Assembly and how it operated in the framework of Columbia University and its Business School.” Continue reading

Acquisitions | A book made with glass pages and other new titles in book arts

Click the tweets below to enlarge and see which new acquisition Curator Michelle Chesner stop in her tracks.,,

Becky Slemmons, They did not know that the books were already in our head, 2015.

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New from RBML’s Archivists | September 2019

Newly Processed Collections

Cast in “A Musical Celebration of Broadway Honoring Patti LuPone”; The 27th Annual Black-Tie Benefit Gala for The Drama League at The Pierre Hotel, New York City; Photograph: © 2011 Richard Termine

Patti LuPone papers
A collection of scrapbooks, scripts, sheet music, and photographs chronicling the career of the Tony award winning actress and singer Patti LuPone.

#Loveinaction OH Collection
“The interviews of the #LoveInAction oral history collection were taken to document narrators’ experiences in the Student Interracial Ministry and SIM’s impact on their lives. The Student Interracial Ministry was founded in 1960 at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Spurred by the civil rights movement, this student-run group strove to build greater understanding between people of diverse backgrounds by placing students in congregations to worship and live in different communities.”

Harriet Zuckerman papers
Correspondence, manuscripts, research files, drafts, memoranda, etc of the noted Columbia sociologist Harriet Zuckerman.

Manuel Ramos Otero papers

Manuel Ramos Otero

“Manuel Ramos Otero (1948-1990) is considered the first openly out homosexual writer from Puerto Rico. He resided in New York City for much of his adult life. In 1990, he returned to his hometown of Manatí, Puerto Rico, where he died of complications from HIV/AIDS. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks and notes, reviews, photographs, and newspaper clippings. These materials range in date from Otero’s infancy to his death, 1948-1990. There is also a small section of the collection that contains material related to Otero posthumously, which dates from 1990 to 2007.”

Paul Levitz papers
Paul Levitz is a comic book writer, editor and executive. Currently the writer of Legion of Super-Heroes and Adventure Comics. He has served as a writer, editor, vice president, executive vice president, president and publisher at DC Comics. Over 40 years of comics scripts and Fanzines from the 1960s and 1970s.

Columbia University historical recordings, 1902-1985
A collection of phonograph records, reels of audio tape recordings, and motion picture films recording a variety of Columbia University academic and extra-curricular activities and events such as lectures; speeches, some at award ceremonies; commencement; installation of Nicholas M. Butler and Dwight D. Eisenhower as presidents of the University; King George VI of England during his visit, 1939; speech of England’s Queen Mother, Elizabeth in 1954; homecoming; football, the band; academic and alumni conferences; and radio programs under the auspices of Columbia.

Maison Française records, 1930s-2000s
Founded in 1913, the Maison Française of Columbia University was the first French cultural center established on an American campus. This collection consists of photographs, correspondence, event materials, fundraising records, calendars, publicity materials, programs, newsletters, interviews, and records related to a renovation project. It includes two scrapbooks containing mostly photographs of events at the Maison Française, such as the visits of Edith Piaf, Jean-Paul Satre, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Boyer and Marcel Marceau.

Bard College Minutes, 1928-1944
This collection consists of the Board of Trustees and Faculty meeting minutes of St. Stephen’s College (1928-1935) and Bard College of Columbia University (1935-1944). In 1928, St. Stephen’s College, an undergraduate college of arts and sciences in Annandale-on-Hudson, was incorporated within the educational system of Columbia University as one of its colleges for undergraduates. In 1935, with former Columbia professor Donald Tewksbury as Dean, the College changed its name to Bard College of Columbia University, in honor of its founder, John Bard. In 1944, Bard opened its doors to women students and ended its association with Columbia.

Updated finding aids / collections

Virgil Thomson papers
There is now an online finding aid for the papers of music critic and composer Virgil Thomson.

Indusco Records
Oversize material in the Indusco Records is now fully described.

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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New from RBML’s Archivists | August 2019

rows of archival boxes in a white room

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened or updated by RBML’s Archivists.

New finding aids

Yehudah Joffe papers, 1893-1966, bulk 1920-1945
“The collection consists of Joffe’s correspondence, manuscripts/notes, and newspaper clippings. Joffe’s correspondence in Yiddish in English is both personal and professional, covering communication with institutions he was working at or hoping to work at. Joffe’s manuscripts contain drafts for lectures and notes on university seminars and lectures he attended under Prof. Roman Jakobson and others. Joffe’s newspaper clippings contain a selection of clippings relating to Prof. Peck, his undergraduate advisor, and miscellaneous clippings.

Agudath Israel Records, 1933-2008, bulk 1940-1947
” This collection consists of autograph signed letters, typed signed letters, postcards, telegrams, printed material, programs, newspaper clippings, and written public announcements pertaining to the Agudath Israel movement in America, Eretz Israel/Palestine, and Lithuania. Most materials are dated during the 1940s (wake of WWII). Most letters are addressed to Rabbi Aaron Ben Zion Shurin. The materials are mainly in Hebrew and English with some in Yiddish. Most materials concern the role of Orthodox Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust.”

Andrew Alpern Collection of Edward Gorey Materials
“A collection of original artwork, published books, printed ephemera, and branded merchandise by the writer and artist Edward Gorey (1925-2000), assembled by Andrew Alpern.”
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