Category Archives: Columbia University

After Processing, Scholarship Begins: Research Applications of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Records

On September 30, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s three-year project to process the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Records will officially come to an end.  The project, supported by the Ford Foundation, met several goals.  It supported the processing of approximately 500 linear feet of paper records and 3.6 terabytes of digital records, which are now open to researchers at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  It facilitated the development of necessary infrastructure for accessioning, processing, and providing access to the rapidly increasing amount of born-digital materials in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s archival collections.  Finally, to encourage scholarly engagement with the Ford IFP Records, it permitted RBML to host a group of six international visiting scholars who conducted extensive research using the collection over the summer and presented their findings in a symposium titled “Education, Development, and Social Justice: the Legacy of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program.”

A complete video recording of the first panel of the symposium is now available on Columbia University’s YouTube channel, and video of the second panel is forthcoming.  Sean Quimby, Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, welcomed attendees.   Joan Dassin, IFP’s Executive Director and Professor of International Education and Development at Brandeis University, opened the event with a keynote address reflecting on the experience of designing and administering IFP, as well as preserving its records.  Next, Rajika Bhandari of the Institute of International Education moderated the symposium’s first panel, “Global Perspectives.”   Patricia L. Rosenfield of the Rockefeller Archive Center moderated its second panel, “Local Contexts,” and Kay Lee of the Ford Foundation gave closing remarks.

Joan Dassin, Executive Director of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, delivers the keynote address at "Education, Development, and Social Justice: the Legacy of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program," a symposium hosted by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library on September 8.

Joan Dassin, Executive Director of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, delivers the keynote address at “Education, Development, and Social Justice: the Legacy of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program,” a symposium hosted by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library on September 8.


The Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program supported graduate studies for individuals in 23 developing countries between 2001 and 2013.  Its model prioritized social commitment over traditional selection criteria.  In addition to academic and leadership potential, Fellows were selected from groups and communities who lack systematic access to higher education. These groups included women, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and people from rural areas, as well as other groups identified as marginalized within specific regional and national contexts.  According to the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Website—which is no longer live, but was archived as part of RBML’s processing project –these selection criteria also allowed IFP to function as an experiment through which the international community could “derive lessons about educational access, academic excellence and the ways in which equity-based scholarship programs could have a positive impact on individuals, institutions and communities.”  As such, extensive program evaluation was carried out throughout IFP’s duration.  A longitudinal Alumni Tracking Study carried out by the Institute of International Education will also continue until 2023, in order to more thoroughly document and study the program’s long-term effects on its alumni and their communities.

The experimental nature of IFP, as well as the thoroughness with which it was documented, gives the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Records multifaceted and enduring research value.  As the visiting scholars demonstrated, the Ford IFP Records contain information useful to researchers working within a broad range of disciplines and approaches.  Some of the records’ applications are highlighted below, in video clips from the symposium.

Wim de Jong, a Dutch historian and political philosopher at Radboud University Nijmegen, specializes in the history of democracy and its connection to education.  His presentation, “Between Global and Local:  The International Fellowships Program Archives and the Training of Social Justice Leaders (2001-2013)” examined IFP’s work to define leadership and social justice as universally applicable concepts, and its relationship to the structure and approach of IFP overall.

Budi Waluyo, an IFP Indonesia alumnus and Ph.D. candidate in International and Comparative Education at Lehigh University, specializes in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL).  He presented “Measuring National Community Development Returns from International Scholarship Programs:  A Case Study of the International Fellowships Program.”  This presentation analyzed the impact of IFP through the theoretical frameworks of Human Capital, Social Capital Renewal, and Cultural Capital, using data sets from the Ford IFP Records.

Budi Waluyo presents his work at the Columbia University symposium as Wim de Jong (left) and Oluwafunmilayo Para-Mallam (right) look on.

Budi Waluyo presents his work at the Columbia University symposium as Wim de Jong (left) and Oluwafunmilayo Para-Mallam (right) look on.


Rajendran T. Govender, an IFP South Africa alumnus, is the director of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Arts and Culture.  In “From Dark to Enlightened Continent:  An Analytical Study of the Research of the Ford Foundation IFP Africa Alumni from 2001 to 2013,” he presented the results of a quantitative and qualitative analysis of African and Middle Eastern IFP alumni.  Govender’s quantitative data sample was gathered from the Ford IFP Records, and his qualitative data was gathered through a survey distributed to the same alumni.

Oluwafunmilayo Para-Mallam is an IFP Nigeria alumna and a professor of gender and development at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Nigeria.  Her presentation, “Gender-Based Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa:  An Integrative Review,” analyzed studies related to gender-based violence conducted by IFP alumni from sub-Saharan Africa.  Through this analysis, she identified strategies for reducing gender-based violence from those studies which are applicable to the current Nigerian context.

Nagah Sayed-Ahmed, an IFP Egypt alumna, is an independent social science researcher and activist who studies the relationship between modernity and political Islam in Egypt.  Her presentation, “Ford Foundation IFP Impact on Social Justice:  Some Evidence from Egypt,” examined the impact of IFP’s emphasis on social justice leadership on Egyptian IFP alumni.

Thy Tran presents her analysis of IFP Vietnam alumni theses.

Thy Tran presents her analysis of IFP Vietnam alumni theses.


The final presentation in the symposium was given by Tran Nu Mai Thy, an IFP Vietnam and Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs alumna.  Tran analyzed theses by IFP Vietnam alumni from the Ford IFP Records for evidence of the relationship between alumni scholarship and the program’s vision.  She also identified information about how these theses, which very often incorporated local case studies, impacted their authors’ communities.

Submitted by Celeste Brewer, Ford IFP Project Archivist


A Narrative in the Documents: The Gibbs Affair

Interesting narratives that are interwoven into Columbia University’s history can unravel simply by creating an online inventory for a collection. Recently, a series of letters was discovered within the Columbia College Papers that elucidate past events involving administrative prejudice, academic politics, and the Civil War.

After James Renwick, Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and Chemistry, retired from his professorship at Columbia College in 1853, Free Academy professor Oliver Wolcott Gibbs was nominated for the position in 1854. Gibbs, a Unitarian, faced the prejudice against the denomination that several Columbia College Trustees, unlike many New Yorkers at the time, held. Although there were some members of the Board of Trustees that supported Gibbs’ nomination the predominately Episcopalian board, which included six clergymen, chose to reject Gibbs based on his religious affiliation. The decision fueled bitterness amongst trustees and alumni that led to a postponement of centennial celebrations in what became known as the “Gibbs affair.”

One of the letters in this series of correspondence came from a special committee of the
United States Senate that was investigating whether or not Columbia’s Board of Trustees violated anti-discriminatory terms within the charter. The Senate committee asked a broad series of questions regarding the hiring practices of the Board of Trustees, one of which asked if the board has ever rejected a candidate “on account of his peculiar tenets in matters of religion?”.

Senate Questionnaire

The Board of Trustees invoked their Fifth Amendment rights for this question and the committee concluded that although individual board members may have violated charter’s terms, the Board of Trustees as a whole was not guilty.

Gibbs eventually became a distinguished researcher at Harvard following the affair, but the professor chosen instead of Gibbs, Richard Sears McCulloh, forged a very different reputation. On September 25, 1863, McCulloh submitted his letter of resignation to the Board of Trustees, stating “that one, born and reared a Southerner, prefers to cast his lot with that of the South.”

McCulloh Resignation Letter

McCulloh left New York for Richmond, Virginia where he became a consulting chemist for the Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau.

The Board of Trustees initially acknowledged his resignation in correspondence with colleagues, but McCulloh’s decision to join the Confederacy prompted them to expel him from the faculty, as noted in the Board Minutes, rather than officially accepting the resignation. McCulloh went on to develop a lethal chemical gas for the Confederate Army, which was never used in combat. After his subsequent imprisonment he became a Professor of Mechanics and Thermodynamics at Washington College, where Robert E. Lee served as President, until 1878.

This rich story, spanning the course of a decade, was unearthed in a collection that holds countless narratives waiting to be told. An inventory of the Columbia College Papers will be made available online in the near future.

-Ian Post, Pratt SILS Intern

On Display @ Kunming City Museum: Barney Rosset, Publisher-Hero as Combat Photographer in China

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-hero as Combat Photographer in China, an exhibition at Kunming City Museum, in Kunming City, Yunnan, China, which features a collection of RBML’s photographs of China from World War II by Grove Street Press publisher Barney Rosset.

Astrid Rosset at the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-Hero as Combat Photographer in China at Kunming City Museum (Photo: Arthur Bijur)

The exhibition, which opened on February 20, was co-curated by Bob Bergin, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer; Astrid Rosset, Barney Rosset’s widow, and Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literature at RBML. The curators chose approximately 100 images from the collection, which were then digitized by the RBML and printed by the Kunming City Museum.

The photographs in the exhibition were taken by Rosset during his time with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in China toward the end of World War II (1944-1945). In 1945, Rosset was tasked with documenting for the United States that Chinese soldiers were willing to fight. The photographs depict Chinese and American soldiers in training and combat, the devastation caused by the Ichi-Go operation (The Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi), the largest Japanese land campaign of the war, the Japanese retreat, and the signing of the surrender in Nanking. Rosset joined the Chinese troops at Kweiyang, the deepest point of Japanese penetration before they began to retreat.

Little documentation from this period remains in China and the newly opened Kunming City Museum was eager to mount an exhibition of Rosset’s photographs. According to Bergin, Rosset (who passed away in 2012) wished that his photos of a difficult period in Chinese history could be shown to China’s new generations.  The exhibition includes digital prints of his photographs, copies of letters he wrote home during that period, and documents that demonstrate Rosset’s interest in China throughout his life and career.

Rosset bought the fledgeling Grove Press in 1951 and transformed it into the leading publisher of avant-garde literature and political writing. Grove published Che Guevara, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and Malcolm X.

Concurrent with the brick-and-mortar exhibition in China, the RBML has created an online exhibition containing many of these images, which can be viewed on the exhibition website.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources:

Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Granary Books Archive

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the acquisition of the archive of Granary Books, one of the country’s most significant artist book publishers operating today.

Founded in 1981 as a distributor, Granary Books began publishing under the direction of Steve Clay in 1985. Granary Books’ mission is to produce, promote, document, and theorize new works exploring the intersection of word, image, and page.

“It is a privilege and an honor to have the Granary Books Archive acquired by Columbia University and to be part of a growing number of independent small presses whose papers are held in its Rare Book and Manuscript Library,” said Clay.

The archive includes thirty-year’s worth of production files for limited edition books by renowned artists, graphic designers, printers, and poets, including Nods, a collaboration with John Cage, Barbara Fahrner, and Philip Gallo, and titles by Charles Bernstein, Cecilia Vicuna, Jen Bervin, Johanna Drucker, Emily McVarish, Anne Waldman, and Jerome Rothenberg.  Other notable artists include John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Francesco Clemente, Robert Creeley, John Yau, Leslie Scalapino, Kiki Smith, George Schneeman, Buzz Spector, and Ron Padgett.

Granary Books has also published trade editions of exhibit catalogs, out of print and first edition poetry, and books about books, particularly artist books – notably Johanna Drucker’s The Century of Artists’ Books.  The archive includes Steve Clay’s extensive correspondence with writers and printers, and other artist book press proprietors, as well as electronic records, including almost two decades of email.  Additionally, the archive includes primary source materials from several important New York School and LANGUAGE poets not otherwise well represented in the RBML collections.

The Granary Books archive complements the BOMB Magazine records and Kulchur Foundation records in the RBML, which include materials by many of the same artists and writers that Granary Books has published.  This collection connects many of the collecting strengths of the RBML: artists’ books, publishers’ archives, and the archives of significant twentieth-century book designers.

“For years, Granary Books has been assiduously mapping the rocky terrain of contemporary American poetry,” said Michael Golston, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University. “Columbia has scored a major coup in acquiring the archive – generations of scholars will work on these materials, shaping and reshaping the history of the art and of the discipline.”

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The Libraries’ website is the gateway to its services & resources:

Selling Russia’s Treasures


November 12, 2013 (Tuesday)

Butler Library, Room 203 at 6:00 PM

Please join us for a presentation on the Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art, 1917-1938 – an authoritative illustrated account of the unprecedented sale of Russia’s cultural treasures by the Soviet government.

Speakers will include Nicolas Iljine, Natalia Semenova, Elena Solomakha, Robert H. Davis, Jr., Edward Kasinec, Mark Schaffer, Richard Wortman, and honorary guest Amir Kabiri, President of the M.T. Abraham Foundation.

Co-sponsored by the Harriman Institute and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.


The event is free and open to the public.

Tues., Oct. 22nd, a Celebration Concert: “The Ulysses Kay Project” @ Columbia


 Ulysses Kay


On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at 6:00 pm Columbia University Columbia University Office of the Chaplain’s Concert Series will feature the Harlem Chamber Players at St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University 117th Street and Amsterdam (See, map @ no. 12).  This concert is part of what the Harlem Chamber Players have titled “The Ulysses Kay Project”.The concert will feature performers:

Tia Roper – Flute

Ashley Horne – Violin

Orlando Wells – Violin

Audrey Mitchell – Viola

Lawrence Zoernig – Cello.

They will perform Kay’s: Prelude for Unaccompanied Flute, Flute Quintet and Selected String Quartets

It is a salute to the completion of Columbia University Libraries, Rare Books & Manuscript Library s work archiving, as Jennifer Lee, Curator for Performing Arts noted, “a treasure trove of material relating to all aspects of the composer’s work, from manuscript sketches to finished scores, including correspondence, photographs, programs, and his professional files.”

Michael Ryan, Head of Columbia’s Rare Books & Manuscript Library, at the time the Columbia received these works, commented, that Kay was “[a] prolific and important composer of contemporary symphonic, chamber, and choral music, Kay also wrote five operas, the most substantial and last of which, Jubilee (1976) and Frederick Douglass (1991), were based on themes from African-American history.” Ryan also noted that, “Kay was a formidable and versatile composer.”  It is amazing that we are approaching the 70th Anniversary of the New York Philharmonic premiere of Ulysses Kay’s first major work Of New Horizons: Overture at what was then West Harlem’s stunning Lewisohn Stadium which is now the site of City College of New York’s North Academic building.

Kay’s connection with Columbia goes back to 1946 when he was awarded the Alice M. Ditson Fellowship in Composition and studied with Otto Leunig.  He also was the winner of the BMI Prize for his work Suite for Orchestra, which Dean Dixon and the American Youth Orchestra premiered in 1945 and A Short Overture, which received the George Gershwin Memorial Award in 1946.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections.  The range of collections in RBML span more than 4,000 years and comprise rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; as well as art and realia.  Some 500,000 printed books and 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, and records form the core of the RBML holdings.  One can find literary manuscripts from the 14th century to the papers of authors Herman Wouk and Erica Jong.  Archives as varied as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Random House, NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International-USA, and the archives of Columbia University are available for research.  The history of printing, graphic arts and the performing arts are strengths of RBML.

Loaded Dice

Currently on view in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is a small but fascinating exhibition of dice, from the Smith Collection of Mathematical  Instruments. They date from the Roman era to the early 20th century. David Eugene Smith (1860-1944) was a professor of mathematics at Teachers College, Columbia University. He used these dice in his lectures, to show the “development of one of the oldest numbers games known.” Smith’s collection of mathematical instruments, manuscripts, and books is in the RBML, and was the subject of an exhibition in 2002-2003.

I was particularly excited by this exhibition, not only because of my personal interest in the history of gambling, but because (believe it or not) of something in the John Jay Papers.

In 1794, John Jay, then serving as Chief Supreme Court Justice, was appointed by Washington to serve as Envoy Extraordinary to negotiate a treaty concerning the general commerce between the said United States and the British Empire, and also to address certain unexecuted or ignored aspects of the 1783 Peace Treaty.  His eldest son, Peter Augustus, then 18, accompanied his father. He had just graduated from Columbia College, and his mother, Sarah, thought the London trip would be a grand opportunity for him. His father had misgivings, but eventually agreed. During their residence in London, Peter kept a diary in four notebooks, in which he recorded the sights and people they encountered. Among the people he met were the artist Benjamin West, philosopher Jeremy Bentham, Prime Minister William Pitt the younger, and manufacturer Josiah Wedgewood. He attended the theater, seeing Mrs. Siddons perform numerous times, grand balls and assemblies, and visited galleries, libraries, and museums. It was at the British Museum that he encountered a pair of loaded dice.


Monday 23rd. June [1794] I breakfasted this morning with Mr. Paradise, who was so obliging as afterwards to attend me to the British Museum– This edifice is a fine one, & it contains such numbers & variety that in one morning, it is impossible to gain much more than a knoledge of their disposition . . . We saw in another room a number of Roman dice, some of which appear to have been loaded, many Play & Lottery Tickets consisting principally of figures cut from ivory

Peter Augustus’s diaries, located in the John Jay Papers collection at RBML, were probably kept both to hone Peter’s observatory and writing skills, serve as a souvenir, and to share with his family and friends back home. They provide a unique window on Jay’s negotiation, as they list where and with whom the father and son visited. The Jay collection also contains many letters, both official and private, from the mission, as well as Jay’s letter book and account book.

(However, it’s not clear if any of the dice in the exhibition are loaded.)