Freshmen students in beanies leaving a building on campus. Source: Historical Photograph Collection, Columbia University Archives.
“Never neglect to say ‘hello’ to a man who wears a Freshman cap, whether you know his name or not.” – Columbia Blue Book, 1917-18
Proudly worn as symbols of a freshman’s distinctive but lowly position on campus, these caps helped the new classmates forge a close allegiance amongst themselves and against their greatest detractors: the sophomores. The wearing of the beanies was mandatory and a bareheaded freshman was an outrage to sophomores. The 1927-28 Columbia Blue Book (a handbook for first year students) contained freshman rules – including the requirement to wear your freshman cap at all times – and noted that rule-breakers would be “summarily dealt with.”
Tomorrow, October 6th, is Mad Hatter Day! University Archivist Jocelyn Wilk shares a Columbia connection to the day, which celebrates the Hatter, a key character in Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland.
Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland, Llandudno.
Did you know that Alice in Wonderland came to visit Columbia and was awarded an honorary degree?
You may think us mad to suggest such a thing, but, indeed, this actually happened!
In May 1932 Alice Pleasance Hargreaves, the “Alice” of Lewis Carroll’s works, came to New York City and Columbia University, in particular, to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s birth. Festivities at the University included an exhibition held in the Avery Library of “Carrolliana” assembled from collectors throughout the country.
Mrs. Hargreaves’ participation took two forms. On May 2, in a private ceremony, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler in the Rotunda of Low Memorial Library. In her acceptance speech, Mrs. Hargreaves said: “I shall remember it and prize it for the rest of my days, which may not be very long. I love to think, however unworthy I am, that Mr. Dodgson – Lewis Carroll – knows and rejoices with me.”
Columbia University Honors the Original Alice of “Alice in Wonderland”. New York City.- Mrs. Reginald Liddell Hargreaves, for whom Lewis Carroll wrote the book which is now one of the world’s classics, with President Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia University after the private ceremony in which she was given the degree of Doctor of Letters. 5/3/32. Source: Historical Photograph Collection, Columbia University Archives.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg leading a seminar discussion at the School of Law, ca. 1975 (Scan 4330) Historical Photograph Collection (Box 46). University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
At the University Archives, working with researchers allows us to learn about a wide range of Columbians.
From a researcher, we learned about Otelia Cromwell, the first African American woman to receive a PhD at Yale. (Cromwell received a Master’s degree from Columbia in 1911.)
Another asked us about Anni Weiss-Frankl, one of the early researchers working on what is now known as autism. (Born Anni Babette Weiss, she was a student and an Associate of Child Guidance at Columbia University’s Teachers College in the late 1930s.)
But there are certain Columbians whom researchers frequently ask about.
In response to a recent flurry of requests about certain individuals associated with Columbia we’ve added a new section to our research guide: Notable Columbians. This guide provides information on what and how you can find materials related to these three amazing individuals: Bhimrao Ambedkar, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and V.K. Wellington Koo. We provide links to digitized resources (including PDFs of documents scanned for previous users) wherever possible and direct users to relevant analog collections across our holdings and those of the RBML.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.”