Category Archives: Columbia University Archives

Summer travels with the University Archives            

Now that Commencement has passed and the campus has calmed, are you thinking summer about travel plans?

Here’s some inspiration from the University Archives: three travel diaries from three very different writers and from very different times and circumstances.

SS Bremen, Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-11081 / Georg Pahl / CC-BY-SA 3.0

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CU summer housing: Lorca slept here

Welcome to the start of Columbia’s 2018 summer session!

We recently processed a collection of Columbia Men’s Residence Hall Registers and Ledger Books. The registers served as a directory of residents for each of the earliest dorms on the Morningside campus. Organized by last name and first initial, the books list the room number, mail box number, check-in and check-out dates, and a forwarding address. The “office boys” kept these registers at the front desk to note when residents arrived, when keys were returned, as well as for handling deliveries and other requests. On the inside pages, the books include contact information for area hospitals, cab companies and messenger services.

Columbia residence hall ledger with Lorca signature

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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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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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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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Concerned Black Students demands for campus MLK Memorial

When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago, 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 letter 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.letter from Columbia Concerned black students to kirk

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.”

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.

 

 

Historic CU LGBT achievement! Earl Hall on National Register of Historic Place

This week, Earl Hall at Columbia University was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, following its nomination by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and in recognition of Earl Hall as a venue for meetings and dances of the Student Homophile League, the first gay student organization in the country. Professor Andrew Dolkart conducted some of his research here in the University Archives in support of the application.