Category Archives: Uncategorized

Newly Available Collections – June 2018

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened by RBML archivists.word archive in script

El Diario/La Prensa Photograph Morgue, 1970-2006
“El Diario/La Prensa is the largest and oldest Spanish-language daily
newspaper in New York City, and the oldest Spanish-language daily in
the United States. The El Diario/La Prensa Photograph Morgue contains
photographs and associated materials kept as reference, or morgue,
files by the newspaper’s staff. It documents events and personalities
significant to New York City’s Spanish-speaking communities between
approximately 1970 and 2006.”

Norman Witty Cinema Collection, 1917-2008
“A collection of rare periodicals, books, and printed ephemera on
topics related to cinema history, assembled by the cinema enthusiast
and rare book collector Norman Witty (1941-2013).”

Society for Classical Studies records, 1868-2018
The collection was confusingly numbered and had various accessions in
multiple places; the finding aid is now accurate and up-to-date.

Development Foundation of Turkey (DFT) collection 1966-2005
“DFT’s two-pronged approach with human resources deveopment and
technical assistance that developed a single coordinated system
covering income generation, promotion of technical and social skills,
awareness building about environmental protection, assistance for
sustainable management models, institutional development of
communities, and advocacy for the rural households could be of
interest to the Columbia Library Collection and may provide ample data
for researchers and students interested in achieving a better
understanding of the socio-economic development in rural Turkey since

Rita Raǐt-Kovaleva Correspondence, 1965-1981
A small amount of correspondence of Rita Rait-Kovaleva (1898-1989), a
prominent literary translator, with Sara Ginsburg and Lynn Visson.

Shavu’ot: The holiday of the Torah

Moses receiving the Torah at Sinai (MS X893 J522, 7r)

The holiday of Shavu’ot is one of the lesser known holidays in the Jewish calendar.  It doesn’t involve obvious rituals, like eating flat crackers for a week, living in a hut in the backyard, blowing a ram’s horn, or fasting.  Shavu’ot celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, and is celebrated by Torah study and scholarship (among other things).  There is a common custom to stay up all night studying Torah (and its myriad commentaries).

There are many prayerbooks in our collection that are specific to Shavu’ot, and include selections of various parts of the Jewish canon, including the Hebrew Bible, the Mishna, and the Talmud.  The image above is taken from an illustrated volume of special prayers recited in the seven weeks between Passover and Shavu’ot.  It has been entirely digitized and is available online.

Because of the custom to stay up all night studying the sacred texts, various books were written specifically for the night of Shavu’ot.  The tiny text in the book on the right (magnified below, although still quite small) is the Tikun Lel Shavu’ot.  Its text is essentially an abridged version of the entire Jewish canon, including the first and last line of every section of the Hebrew Bible and the Mishna, as well as additional kabbalistic texts.  The word “tikun” means “reparation,” and according to mystical lore, reading this text on the night of Shavu’ot is an atonement for the Israelites sleeping late on the morning when Moses came down with the Tablets at Sinai. 

Another example of a book for Shavu’ot was the Azharot Le-Shavu’ot, which we have in many copies and formats.  The Azharot contain a poetic version of the 613 commandments, meant to be recited on Shavu’ot.  One particularly interesting Azharot, from Carpentras, in France, includes a story about “the miracle that occurred…when the Carpentras Jewish community was saved from harm after a troop of armed men entered within the walls. A special Purim was celebrated in Carpentras each [year] to commemorate this episode of 1512.”  Another Azharot in our collection is written in a Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) version.

As with many prayers, however, the special liturgy for Shavu’ot is often included in broader Mahazorim (prayerbooks) for special days throughout the year.  On the left is a Southern Italian Mahazor from the 15th century, open to the beginning of the section for Shavu’ot.  (This manuscript has been digitized in its entirety, and is available online.)

The Biblical book of Ruth is read during the morning service on Shavu’ot for various reasons.  Her conversion to and acceptance of Judaism is a parallel to the Israelites’ initial acceptance of the Torah at Sinai.  Additionally, her grandson, King David, was born and died on Shavu’ot.  Because Ruth’s collection of wheat from Boaz’s field ultimately led to her marriage, an image of Ruth with wheat is sometimes pictured on marriage contracts (ketubbot), like this one from Corfu, 1782.  (A digitized image of the entire ketubbah can be seen here)

Now available | Digitized early issues of The Blue and White

The Blue and White was founded in 1890 as a broadsheet weekly newspaper – looking similar to its competition the then bi-weekly Columbia Spectator.

After 14 issues it changed format and became a monthly humorous and literary magazine. Content included lecture announcements, student poetry, critical essays, illustrations and drawings, and reports of what was happening around the campus, from athletics to campus gossip. Of note is the “Told Between Puffs” column written under the pseudonym of Verily Veritas.

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New in Collections | Comics@Columbia in circulation

Here’s what’s new in the comics and graphic novel collection here in the RBML.

CUNY professor Bert Hansen contributed over six dozen educational comics, from Popeye giving career advice to Mexican biographies.

Materials from Jerry Robinson’s library continue to grow, such as this 1947 guide to the comics business written by a young Stan Lee and illustrated by Golden Age artist Ken Bald.

A colleague contributed funds to help acquire a 1940 New Yorker cartoon by one of my favorites, Richard Taylor.

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Newly available collections at RBML – April 2018

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened by RBML archivists.

Sarah Addington papers, 1921-1937
“Correspondence, manuscripts and printed stories by Addington. Sarah
Addington was born in 1891. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree
from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana in 1912. She then studied at
Columbia University. She married Howard Carl Reid in 1917. She was an
author of children’s books and a newspaper journalist.”

Cecile Rose Lehman (Seligman) Papers
“This collection consists of letters, manuscripts, documents,
clipings, photographs, and printed items. The most significant part of
this collection is the letters to Cecile Rose Lehman (Seligman) from
her mother, as well as the letters from Harold Lehman to his
grandfather. There are interesting items regarding Cecile’s education
and a variety of items having to do with the extended family. There is
an album, compiled by Cecile of celebrated actors and musicals, and a
odd volume titled “Thru the Rye with the Harold Lehmans” chronicling
the before and after effects of alcohol (humorous).”

Ben Duncan Papers
“Ben Duncan (1927-2016) was an American-born English writer and
advertising executive. His partner, Dick Chapman (1930-2012), was an
English advertising executive. The collection includes correspondence
Duncan and Chapman exchanged between 1956 and 1957, when Chapman
worked in New York City, away from the couple’s home in England. It
also includes Duncan’s literary manuscripts and published materials.”

Read this extended post about this collection by Celeste Brewer, RBML archivist.

Two additional Thurgood Marshall oral history interviews were
cataloged and opened for researcher access, one from 1980 and another from 1989.


Fire tweets marking Columbia ’68 protest today

Today marks 50 years since the infamous Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Students Afro-American Society (SAS) rally at the Sun Dial.

The gathering kicked off a week long student protest primarily focused on the construction of a new university gym on public land in Morningside Park and university ties to the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). The week included the take over of five buildings on campus, cancelled classes, counter protests, many meetings, press conferences, and much media coverage.

The week ended in a violent police bust that then led to an end of semester strike by students — an organizing strategy that still echoes today on campus?

Dramatic times indeed.

african american child holding protest sign 1968

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Not Lord Stanley’s Cup, but … meet Columbia’s Goodwood Cups

ticket with cherub and horn

Goodwood Ticket, 1875

In 1864, the Columbia College graduating class decided to give an award to its most popular member. Other awards were presented to the class members by the alumni association and by the faculty; but this one would be given by the members of the class themselves. And thus, the Goodwood Cups, a not-long-term tradition, was born. Thanks to the efforts of T. Arthur Booth, CC 1878, there are now 12 of the 15 Goodwood Cups in the University Archives holdings.

The Cups’ name comes from its most likely model, those awarded at the popular races at Goodwood Park in England. The first recipient of the Goodwood Cup was Joseph Bayley Lawrence, Class of 1864, followed by Seymour Van Nostrand, Class of 1865. In 1866, the Cup was presented at the end of the junior year and so it became a tradition for the junior class. The Cups were specially designed each year (for example, S.A. Reed 1874 designed the 1873 Cup) and they were made from different woods (oak and butterwood) and in different shapes (goblets and steins). The presentation of the Cup was normally held in June and it involved a speech by the winner, followed by a dance, and then a stag drinking party for the members of the class.

blue and white dance cards from 1800s

The Goodwood Cups, however, proved to be a short-lived tradition. The last Cup was given in 1877 to James W. Pryor 1878. Class politics had become an issue and the manner for securing votes and campaigning led to much resentment and hard feelings, all extensively covered in the student newspaper, the Spectator. The following year, the Class of 1879 refused to award the prize and so too the next two class years. Classes would eventually find other ways to recognize their own – such as the Senior Poll included in the yearbook.

In 1919, Robert C. Cornell’s 1874 Goodwood Cup was returned to Columbia. Soon after, T. Arthur Booth (CC 1878, P&S 1882) started an effort to track down all of the Cups and have them become part of the Columbiana Collection. By 1925 only one of the original recipients was still alive. Through an extensive letter writing campaign, Booth was able to bring the total number of Cups at Columbia to 12. Of the remaining 3 cups: one could not be found but the silver engraving was secured (Cup of 1864); one was willed from father to son and was on loan once at the University (Cup of 1868); and only one was completely lost and unaccounted for (Cup of 1871).

Goodwood beer stein and cups

Material about the Goodwood Cups is available in the Historical Subject Files. There you can find invitations, tickets, programs and dance cards; the typescript and original photographs from T. Arthur Booth’s article on the search for the Goodwood Cups; and a scrapbook compiled by Robert Arrowsmith, Columbiana curator. — Columbia University Archivists

Event | HEAR & NOW: An Interactive Oral History Exhibit

Thursday, April 12, 2018, 5:00 – 8:00 pm, The Social Hall, Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway at 121st Street

exhibition details with recorder and microphones

On Thursday, April 12, 2018, an interactive exhibit will be curated by the students and faculty of Columbia’s Oral History Master of Arts program. Please RSVP on OHMA’s Eventbrite page.

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