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Come in and look more closely!

The premise of the current exhibition “Mirror of Humanity: Seeing Ourselves in Playing Cards” is that the imagery used on playing cards tells us a lot about how we have viewed ourselves in the past. As an example, consider the deck The Forbidden City: Pekin & Chinese Views (Los Angeles, CA: Grimes-Stassforth Stationery Co., 1901). From a distance, it is a somewhat grey collection of stock views. But when we look closer, we can see some sights ripped from the headlines, and a set of attitudes from a specific moment in time. The deck was issued just after the Boxer rebellion, a war between anti-foreign Chinese forces and a coalition of Western powers including the United States, newly flexing its muscles as an international power.

The two of Diamonds from Field USA 0117

The two of Diamonds from Field USA 0117

In her guest label, Professor Amy Lelyveld describes many of the scenes depicted on the cards, such as the Two of Diamonds with the British Legation, one of the scenes of fighting: “It is shown here ‘after the Siege’ but with the protective barricade that was erected in front of the entrance and sandbags on the roof—intended to protect the roof from incoming artillery and catching fire–clearly still in place.”

 

The Joker from Field USA 0117

The Joker from Field USA 0117

It is the scorn of the victor which assigned the Joker to “the Chinese official authorized to act as a plenipotentiary in negotiating with peace with the allied foreign forces in early September 1900. He went on to be a signatory to the Boxer Protocol that required the Chinese Government to pay compensation—at immense expense—to the 8 Allied nations who resisted the Boxer Rebellion.”

Come in and see more of this deck, and the rest, from Argentina to South Africa!

 

 

Please join us on Monday, November 11, 2019 at 6 pm for a gallery tour, followed by a reception at Hex & Co., where we will announce the winner of a playing card design competition. Just sign up here.

The exhibition is open in the Kempner Gallery during RBML open hours until January 31, 2020.

The Other DeWitt Clinton Chair

Most of the time, when people at Columbia talk about the DeWitt Clinton chair, they mean the professorial chair in American History currently held by Eric Foner.  At the Rare Book Manuscript Library, however, we mean a literal chair on display in the Corliss Lamont reading room.  As its tarnished silver plaque notes, this is the chair “in which GOV. DE WITT CLINTON was seated at the time of his death.”

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CFP: In Service to the New Nation: The Life and Legacy of John Jay

The John Jay Papers Project seeks paper proposals for a conference entitled “In Service to the New Nation: The Life and Legacy of John Jay,” to be held on September 24-25, 2020, at Columbia University. Dr. Joanne Freeman, Professor of American History at Yale University, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. The conference coincides with a major exhibition of Jay documents and artifacts at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) and with the completion of The Selected Papers of John Jay, a documentary edition of Jay’s writings that appears as a seven-volume series published in print and digital formats. The current edition of the John Jay Papers Project commenced in the 1990s and built on the extensive collection of John Jay materials that RBML began amassing several decades earlier. The conference is sponsored by Columbia University’s Office of the Provost.

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Play Ball! Columbia Football and the New York Yankees

With the New York Yankees about to begin another playoff run, we just had to take this opportunity to highlight some interesting intersections between Columbia Football and the Yankees.

Lou Gehrig playing football for Columbia, 1921-1922

In the current Columbia Football exhibition, “Roar, Lion, Roar,” we highlight former Columbia Lion Lou Gehrig (CC 1925). Gehrig played freshmen football in the fall of 1921 and joined the varsity squad in fall of 1922. After playing baseball in the spring of 1923, Gehrig signed with the New York Yankees in the summer of 1923.

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Championing the Causes of Chinese Americans: The William Yukon Chang Papers

By Hong Deng Gao

This month, on September 4, William Yukon Chang (鄭玉安), died at the age of 103. Born in Honolulu in 1916, Chang earned a B.A. in Journalism from St. John’s University, Shanghai. In 1947, he left his job as the editor and columnist of The China Press, a daily English-language newspaper, in Shanghai, and moved to New York City.

From 1955 to 1972, he almost singlehandedly wrote, edited, and published the Chinese-American Times (CAT), a monthly English-language newspaper that drew the world’s attention to what was going on in New York’s Chinatown. The newspaper also provided a venue through which Chinese American communities everywhere — from Maryland to Tennessee, from Oregon to Vancouver — could read and write about their own lives.

A typical front page of the Chinese-American Times.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s recently acquired William Yukon Chang Papers contains a variety of rich materials on Chang’s extraordinary life and career. Chang’s grandparents emigrated to Honolulu from China. His family prospered from raising coffee and running a grocery store. They sent Chang to attend college in Shanghai after he had graduated from McKinley High School in Honolulu. Just before the Communist takeover, Chang left his job at The China Press and hitched a flight to the U.S. En route through Minnesota with an American friend, Chang met Tang Kou Mei (湯國梅), the first daughter of the Nationalist general Tang Enbo (湯恩伯) and an exchange student at St Mary’s College, Winona. The two got married in 1952 and raised three daughters, Dallas, Marina and Priscilla. Continue reading

An oddity in the comics collections

A true treasure trove of a gift has been coming over the past few years from Jens Robinson, the son of illustrator and Golden Age comics artist Jerry Robinson. In addition to all of Jerry’s Playbill art, his strips, his book illustration, and other materials, Jens has been giving us Jerry’s library.

In preparation for his book The comics: an illustrated history of comic strip art, 1895-2010, Jerry collected a lot of comic strip history. One oddity is this long, slender, staple-bound publication (32 cm/13 in):

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Tips for researchers’ first time in the archives: photos and scanning

blue and white arabic writing on page from Q'uran

Photo credit: Ali Wahid

Carrie Smith, Lecturer at Cardiff University, recently posted a thread on Twitter with basic advice for first-time archives researchers. The thread has  tips that work well for our own RBML users — even for our more regular visitors. Continue reading

It might’ve heated up outside — welcome, summer! — but inside the RBML reading rooms it can be quite chilly.

While we can’t let you bring in coats, jackets or other large coverings, you can bring a light cardigan or long-sleeve shirt. Please review our reading room guidelines before your visit. 

New from RBML’s Archivists | May – June 2019

rows of archival boxes in a white room

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened or updated by RBML’s Archivists.

Barnard Family Papers
“Correspondence, financial records, and legal documents of the Barnard family of Sheffield, Massachusetts. Frederick A. P. Barnard (1809-1889) was President of Columbia College from 1864-1889. His brother John Gross Barnard (1815-1882) was a career officer in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers who served as a Brevet Major General for the Union during the Civil War. Anna Eliza Barnard was John Gross Barnard’s second wife, who raised four children and managed the family’s affairs during her husband’s last illness, 1879-1882. Augustus Porter Barnard, the son of John G. Barnard and his first wife, was a mining engineer.”

United Bronx Parents Records
“United Bronx Parents (UBP) was founded in 1965 as a grassroots organization of parents and local businesses advocating for improved education for children in South Bronx public schools. In 1984, under executive director Lorraine Montenegro, the organization shifted focus to address other issues facing Bronx residents, including homelessness, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS. The United Bronx Parents, Inc. Records document the organization’s work for social services in the Puerto Rican community of the South Bronx from the 1960s to the 2010s.”

Albert Goldman Papers
“The papers consist of correspondence, diaries, journals, interviews, manuscripts, transcripts, and printed material of  Albert Goldman, one of the foremost chroniclers of American popular culture. ”

Faculty Meeting Minutes, 1864-2011
This collection contains the recorded minutes from the different faculty meetings: from the representative University Council to the individual schools (Columbia College, Engineering, Journalism, Law, etc.). Faculty meeting minutes include information on admissions, the academic calendar, curricular changes, faculty appointments and leaves, student petitions, fellowships, grants, prizes, and graduation requirements among other topics.

Flat Files Collection, 1754-2018
This collection consists of oversize posters, maps, newspapers, drawings, floor plans and architectural plans related to Columbia events, people and locations. The collection has been organized by subject matter.

Departmental Reports to the President, 1890-1927
This collection contains three sets of reports from the academic departments to the President of Columbia College (1890) and Columbia University (1900 and 1927).

Nicholas Murray Butler football correspondence, 1905-1907
This collection contains correspondence received by Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler regarding the banning of intercollegiate football at Columbia in 1905 and the ban lasted for 10 years.

***An exhibition on Football at Columbia will open in the fall.***

Collections of speeches by Columbia University Presidents:
– Seth Low speeches, 1878-1916
– Nicholas Murray Butler speeches, 1882-1947
– William McGill speeches, 1971-1980

J. Franklin Crowell Papers
“Correspondence, manuscripts, notes, questionnaires, and printed materials relating to a study of lynching conducted by Crowell. Included are letters from governors, elected and appointed officials, and others replying to inquiries from Crowell. There are more than 100 manuscripts and manuscript notes by Crowell, eleven completed questionnaires returned to him approximately 150 newspaper clippings, and twelve printed items on the topic of lynching.”

Updated F. A. P. Barnard Papers
Four boxes of Frederick Barnard’s professional materials were separated from the Barnard Family papers and added to the end of the existing collection.

Lawrence Walsh papers — Pepperdine Law Collection Series
One large series of the Lawrence Walsh papers, consisting of law volumes, books, and clippings, has a finding aid.

The listing of the Tennessee Williams library were added to the existing finding aid as series X, making directly discoverable over 2,000 previously hidden books.

The Indian Princely State Documents now have a container list:
“These are manuscripts and typescript documents of 34 different princely states that existed as distinct political entities in pre-independence India. Although the majority of these states were tiny principalities in western India (primarily in what is now Rajasthan), some (e.g., Hyderabad) were located in other regions of India and represented major powers in the region at that time.”