EVENT: Roar, Lion, Roar: Panel Discussion & Reception, Thursday 10/17, 6pm

To mark the official opening of “Roar, Lion Roar: A Celebration of Columbia Football,” an exhibit in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Chang Octagon, a moderated panel will discuss the arc of Columbia football from its inception in 1870 to present day. The discussion is being held in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the establishment of College Football, and panelists will include former Columbia players and staff.

Organized by the University Archives, the event starts with the panel discussion in Butler 203 at 6pm and will end with a reception in the RBML on the Library’s sixth floor, where panelists and audience members can view the exhibit.

Registration is required and can be done by clicking here.



Focusing on players, coaches, playing fields, and the games won and lost, this exhibition traces the arc of Columbia’s football program from its inception in 1870 to the present day. As one of the oldest college programs in the country, Columbia Football has a rich and fascinating history which the University Archives is delighted to share and celebrate through this display of historical materials from our collection.

EVENT: “¡Actívate! Activism + Representation in Latinx Comics”–Thursday, 9/19, 6 pm

Activate-panel flyerIn honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Comics@Columbia will host a panel discussion on the history of Latinx-American comics, and the roles that activism and representation have taken in them.

Cartoonist and CUNY professor Sara Gómez Woolley will moderate the conversation with comics artists Sandy Jimenez (World War 3 Illustrated) and Nicole Virella (City of bones), along with comics writers Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez (La Borinqueña) and Julian Voloj (Ghetto Brother). The event is co-sponsored by Be’chol Lashon.


The event will be held on Thursday, September 19, at 6 pm, in Butler Library room 523. A reception and signing will follow. Click here to register for this event. Continue reading

Oral History and Storytelling Workshops from OHMA

The Oral History Master’s Program at Columbia has released their fall line-up of workshops. This year’s theme, Oral History and Storytelling, considers storytelling as an underused tool in academic oral history practice.

From workshop, “Finding Fathers: A Cautionary Tale for Oral Historians”

Visit OHMA’s website for workshop details and featured speakers.

September 12, 2019
Europe according to Auschwitz: Experiments from the Laboratory of Reportage

September 19, 2019
Newest Americans: Stories from the Global City

September 26, 2019
Oral History and Indigenous Peoples: Rethinking Oral History, Methods, Politics and Theories

October 3, 2019
Finding Fathers: A Cautionary Tale for Oral Historians

October 24, 2019
Standing With Sky Woman: A conversation on cultural fluency

November 7, 2019
“Necessary as Water”: Queer Black Ceremony and the Depth of Listening



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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Gems from the new Carnegie Corporation of New York Digital Archive

Carnegie Corporation Archivist Jennifer Comins announces a project a long-time in the making and recently completed, the Carnegie Corporation of New York Digital Archive. In this post, she offers insights into the various pathways to using this vast collection, recently completed with the help of a major grant from the Corporation. 

Homepage for the Carnegie Corporation of New York Digital Archive

The updated Carnegie Corporation of New York finding aid, along with the newly released Carnegie Corporation of New York Digital Archive is a breath of fresh air.

The Corporation, founded in 1911, has been granting projects within its mission for over 100 years. The records are vast and touch on many different subjects, people, and institutions. These materials will appeal to researchers in just about any field of study, but especially genealogy, philanthropy, the history of education, social science, international peace and security, and democracy.

For example, Carnegie donated libraries, both public and academic, and church organs all over the world. I did a personal search on the Digital Archive website using the map feature — fun is an understatement — checking Leavenworth, Kansas and Xenia, Ohio where my maternal grandparents were born. Sure enough, there were both a Carnegie Library and church organ donation in both towns.

Carnegie Church Organs, Lancaster, Pennsylvania |
Series II. Files on Microfilm. II.A. Gifts and Grants. II.A.3. Church Organs

I also searched Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where my paternal grandfather had a home. I have memories of being a child running amok in the vast fields. One day, when I was 5 years-old, I picked up what appeared to be a black and white kitten, which turned out to be a skunk! What I did not remember was that there was a Carnegie-donated church organ. On this particular organ donation, there are 150+ pages of intrigue.

Anyone can and will find documents in this collection that will resonate on some level, be it personal, professional or otherwise. A few examples that were Corporation-funded are the Children’s Television Workshop, including Sesame Street and the Electric Company, the Institute for International Education (IIE), the Fulbright Scholarship, National Bureau of Economic Research, National Academy of Science/National Research Council, Brookings Institution, and the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA).

Searching the new archive these are some of the gems I found:

  • Dinosaur digs for the Carnegie Museum—need I say more?
  • A brief history of the Halifax Explosion in 1917 when a Norwegian vessel collided with a French cargo ship carrying high explosives in the upper The explosion killed 2,000 people and caused massive damage to various buildings including Dalhousie University which the Corporation would rescue by paying the cost of repairs.
  • This clip from the popular educational program Reading Rainbow featuring host LeVar Burton helping young viewers understand the creation of media illusions.

  • Andrew Carnegie was President for some years of The Philharmonic Society, and built Carnegie Hall, which opened in 1891, specifically for the orchestra.
  • The Alleghany Observatory, which opened in 1861, had to be moved in the late 19th century due to smoke from growing industries that obscured the sky and made it difficult to conduct research. A campaign started to build a new and larger observatory far from this industrial site. In 1899, Andrew Carnegie donated $20k, Charles M. Schwab donated the steel and George Westinghouse, the electrical installation. Henry Clay Frick donated the balance needed and now the observatory is part of the University of Pittsburgh. The observatory is considered a world leader in the study of stars since the 1860s and the birthplace of physics.

Browse the Carnegie Digital Archives Collection today!

New exhibition | Mirror of Humanity: Seeing Ourselves in Playing Cards

Playing cards were once condemned as “the Devil’s picture book,” gaudy bits of pasteboard that encouraged sins such as time-wasting and gambling. Mirror of Humanity: Seeing Ourselves in Playing Cards instead approaches playing cards as mirrors which retain images of past perceptions of ourselves and others.

Whether commercial products made to appeal to buyers, or fanciful gifts created as souvenirs or advertising, playing cards are objects people at every social level, and in many parts of the world, use regularly. Mirror of Humanity focuses on imagery in playing cards and how they reflect the creators’ alliances and biases.

Cards made in Europe and the United States from the 16th to 21st century are arranged in categories reflecting positions on education, gender, race, celebrity, scenic views, war, politics and political satire.

Click through to hear select songs about playing cards and wheelin’ & dealin’! https://tinyurl.com/playing-card-playlist

The exhibition opens Augusts 26th and runs through January 31, 20120. Please join us on November 11 for a gallery tour, followed by a reception at Hex & Co., where we will announce the winner of a playing card design competition.

The RBML’s Fall 2019 Exhibitions

New from RBML’s Archivists | August 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.

New finding aids

Yehudah Joffe papers, 1893-1966, bulk 1920-1945
“The collection consists of Joffe’s correspondence, manuscripts/notes, and newspaper clippings. Joffe’s correspondence in Yiddish in English is both personal and professional, covering communication with institutions he was working at or hoping to work at. Joffe’s manuscripts contain drafts for lectures and notes on university seminars and lectures he attended under Prof. Roman Jakobson and others. Joffe’s newspaper clippings contain a selection of clippings relating to Prof. Peck, his undergraduate advisor, and miscellaneous clippings.

Agudath Israel Records, 1933-2008, bulk 1940-1947
” This collection consists of autograph signed letters, typed signed letters, postcards, telegrams, printed material, programs, newspaper clippings, and written public announcements pertaining to the Agudath Israel movement in America, Eretz Israel/Palestine, and Lithuania. Most materials are dated during the 1940s (wake of WWII). Most letters are addressed to Rabbi Aaron Ben Zion Shurin. The materials are mainly in Hebrew and English with some in Yiddish. Most materials concern the role of Orthodox Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust.”

Andrew Alpern Collection of Edward Gorey Materials
“A collection of original artwork, published books, printed ephemera, and branded merchandise by the writer and artist Edward Gorey (1925-2000), assembled by Andrew Alpern.”
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