Category Archives: Columbia University Archives

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

 

 

New Year and New Records about a New President

Dr. M. Moran Weston and President Andrew W. Cordier

Trustee and Rector of St. Philip’s Church Dr. M. Moran Weston and Columbia University President Andrew W. Cordier at his investiture ceremony held on December 19, 1970 at Low Library. Scan 4707. Office of Public Affairs Photograph Collection – Series II. Negatives, Box 53, Roll 2, Frame 13. Columbia University Archives.

Every January, archival records that were previously restricted become “open” or available to researchers. At the University Archives, there is a standard restriction of 25 years from the date of creation for administrative records, a 50-year restriction for trustee records and a 75-year restriction for student records. This means, for example, that with the New Year 2020, administrative records up to 1994 are now open. Most of the newly accessible records can be found in many of our frequently consulted collections, such as the Office of the Provost records. However, there is one set of records that just opened that is particularly interesting: Presidential Search records (UA#0174), Series II. The 1968 Presidential Search records. Continue reading

Collections News | January 2020

Here are some new and updated finding aids, reflecting work by archivists in archival processing, collections management, and university archives. – KWS

embroidered flowers and birds

Arthur Mitchell Papers

“Arthur Mitchell (1934-2018) was an American ballet dancer, choreographer, and founder and director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. This collection contains materials related to his career as a dancer with the New York City Ballet, and his later professional work with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and others. The collection includes administrative records, appointment books, correspondence, invitations, notes, notebooks, photographs, programs, and audio and video recordings.”

Goodie Publications Archive, 1999-2009

“Goodie Publications played a major role in shaping NYC’s cultural underground from the 1960s and earlier through the 1990s to present day. From Judith Malina and Lionel Ziprin to Debbie Harry, Gregory Corso, Edgar Oliver and Penny Arcade to lesser known but equally important luminaries, these interviews and related materials are a treasure trove for students, historians, researchers and authors interested in the art, music, literature, politics and everyday life of the period.”

Gail Mary Killian and Stephen Desroches sound recordings, 1970-2003

“The majority of the collection’s interviews were taken by Gail Mary Killian and document her life in the 1970s-1980s as a woman living with Down syndrome in Eastern Massachusetts.”

* This fascinating oral history collection will shortly be sent to our external vendor for digitization. Continue reading

In the Desert

Lou Little and CU Football Players at the El Conquistador Hotel in Tucson, Arizona.

On December 19, 1933, the Columbia Lion football players set out on a cross-country trip to Pasadena, California to play in the 1934 Rose Bowl against the heavily favored Stanford. Every player making the cross-country trip was insured for $5,000 to guard against possible injuries on the train ride to California and back. The Lions traveled by night and practiced by day with stops in St. Louis, Dallas and Tucson, Arizona, where they drilled for a full week in the desert sun.

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Cliff Montgomery

Ticket for 1934 Rose Bowl game between Columbia and Stanford.

In preparing the “Roar, Lion, Roar” Columbia football exhibition (on view at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Chang Octagon through December 20), we found a great detail about the 1934 Rose Bowl game in the New York Times obituary for Cliff Montgomery, the quarterback and MVP of Columbia’s victory over Stanford. According to the Times, “Montgomery’s fake to Brominski was so good that Barabas, who was hiding the ball for what would be a naked reverse, added to the deception by standing for a few seconds and watching Brominski.” (23 April 2005) We had to use that in an exhibition label! However, what we found even more interesting is that back in December 1933, Columbia was considered such an underdog that the Times didn’t even send a reporter to cover the game. That’s how unlikely the upset seemed at the time.

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News from RBML’s Archivists | November 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

Updated links to following collections are now included in the finding aids:

Gregory Corso Papers

John Eugene Unterecker Papers

Judith Crist Papers

Lee Lockwood Papers

C.L.R. James Papers

Malcolm X Project records Continue reading

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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Football is Back!

The Columbia Jester, October 1915, cover artwork by G.W.T. Gillette, CC 1918. Call# CP1 C723

In the “Roar, Lion, Roar” exhibition on Columbia football (on view now at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library), we have a couple of documents on display illustrating “The Ban.” In November 1905, the University Committee on Student Organizations voted to abolish intercollegiate football at Columbia. Other colleges and universities similarly discontinued the sport following a season of repeated injuries and deaths. The Ban at Columbia lasted 10 years and when football returned in 1915, it was reestablished with a number of limitations (which teams Columbia could not play against, when the games would be scheduled, how many games, etc.) and on a probationary basis for the first five years.

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Link

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