Category Archives: Columbia University Archives

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.

1967-1968 Men’s Basketball: A season to remember

A sportising and betting tradition started on Staten Island by a barkeep, March Madness bracketology is upon us!  RBML Records Manager Joanna Rios shares key moments in a timely University Archives exhibition.

The Columbia University Archives has on view a small exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of Columbia’s best men’s basketball team. In 1967-1968, Columbia won 23 of 28 games, the most victories in school history, and finished the season ranked sixth in the nation.NCAA Eastern Regional Program 1968

At the 1967 Holiday Festival, the most prestigious in-season tournament held at the World’s Most Famous Arena Madison Square Garden, the Columbia Varsity Basketball team defeated St. John’s to win their first and only Holiday Festival championship. This winter tournament victory was just the beginning. The Lions went on a 16-game winning streak (12 against Ivy League teams). They came into the last game of the season with the best record in Columbia’s history.

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What were the main ingredients in recipes from 1902-1904?

Among the recent additions to the University Archives is a fascinating recipe book put together by Clara Schauffler (1879-1972) from her time as a student in domestic science at Teachers College from September 1902 to June 1904.

cookbook pages from Columbia University Archives

Clara Elizabeth Schauffler created a recipe book from the domestic science courses she took at Teachers College from September 1902 to June 1904.

As a student pursuing the then-new two-year curriculum in domestic science, Schauffler took DS 10, Foods and DS 11, Foods, Advanced Course with Professor Helen Kinne and Mrs. Mary Forrest. Schauffler organized the class materials, the typed handouts with her corrections in pencil, and created this recipe book by pasting the recipes onto paper and placing them in a small, three-ring binder.

cookbook recipe page

Tempting recipes?

She was very organized. The recipe book is arranged by topic and then alphabetically: Beverages; Bread; Cake; Desserts; Candy; Fruit; Jellies and Pickles; Cheese; Eggs; Fish (including shell fish); Meat (including Variety Meats and Chicken); Vegetables; Rice, Macaroni, Cereals; Soup; Sauces (including sweet sauces); Salad Dressings, and Invalid Dishes. After the table of contents, there is an alphabetical recipe title index, from Almond Hardbake to Yeast Breads.

– Jocelyn Wilk, University Archives Curator

Columbia and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

It’s been nearly 100 years since the infamous 1918 influenza epidemic swept the globe. As we’re in the middle of our own flu season you might be wondering how Columbia fared during that time.

The answer: really well.

While millions of people were dying around the world from this relentless scourge, the students at Columbia University (most of whom were involved in the Student Army Training Corps which essentially took over the campus in the autumn of 1918) were kept remarkably healthy.

Dr. William H. McCastline was Columbia’s Medical Director. He was faced with a reported 200 cases of flu and 48 cases of pneumonia.

A Report of the University Medical Director, Dr. William H. McCastline, in 1919 stated: “We had 200 cases of influenza, 48 cases of pneumonia, with but two deaths. Our health record is among the best thus far reported in S.A.T.C. camps throughout the country.” A Report of the Administrative Board of the Student Army Training Corps in that same year, submitted by Dean Herbert E. Hawkes addressed the epidemic by stating: “The Board gave serious thought to the question raised by the epidemic of influenza, but finally decided, on the advice of competent medical advisory board, to proceed with the S.A.T.C. induction on October 1 as originally planned. The measures adopted by the post surgeon met the influenza epidemic very successfully keeping the death rate at the remarkable figure of 0.8 per cent. per thousand men.” On January 6, 1919 there was a resolution passed by the Trustees thanking Dr. William H. McCastline and Dr. George L. Meylan for “their devoted and remarkably successful efforts for the care and protection of students of the S.A.T.C. [Student Army Training Corps] in the recent epidemic of influenza.”

– Jocelyn Wilk, University Archivist for Columbia University

LGBTQ+ alumni oral histories from Columbia’s Center for Oral History Research

Columbia statue with "gay dance" poster in lap

Cover of Pride of Lions, vol. 1, no. 1, April 1972

Jamie Beckenstein, Project Coordinator for LGBTQ+ Columbia Oral Histories, shared a few of the themes that emerged from interviewing Columbia alums for the Columbia LGBTQ Oral History Project: 

We were correct to assume that Columbia’s location in Manhattan allowed narrators potential access to public queer worlds, but the ways that the narrators choose to access these worlds were different than we guessed in our blueprint..What was most significant in terms of linking the interviews, however, were themes of community and its inverse, isolation. Narrators spoke with such great care and love about their mentors, their peers, and their friends. They were often in awe and pride of the people that they met during their Columbia years who led them into careers, relationships, and full and fulfilling lives.

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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