Category Archives: Columbia University Archives

For your next playlist: Oggie and the Blue Lions

If you enjoy big band music, you should listen to the Columbia Blue Lions.

1940s band and leader; dancers in conga line

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.

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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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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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