In Passing | Oral history with Justice John Paul Stevens

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died this week at the age of 99.  Nominated by Richard Nixon, Justice Stevens ruled on several pivotal cases that have shaped environmental policy, presidential elections and campaign financing.

The Columbia Center for Oral History interviewed Justice Stevens for its project, The Rule of Law. The project documents the state of human and civil rights in the post-9/11 world.

Read the transcript online to hear Justice Stevens’ reflections from the bench on Citizens United, capital punishment, affirmative action, shutting down Guantanamo Bay, the 2012 election and the use of advertising among other topics.

Oral history interview with Justice John Paul Stevens, Oral History Archives at Columbia (PDF)

United Bronx Parents – A “Community Grown Organization”

By Rachel Klepper

(This is Part I of a two-part story. Read part II.)

In 2018, the Lorraine Montenegro Women and Children’s Program Facility opened in a new building at 773 Prospect Avenue in the Bronx. With $12 million from New York State, this residential recovery center was built on the site where United Bronx Parents (UBP) began and worked for decades to improve the health and education of its community. The original building was called “La Escuelita,” and it was known in the Bronx as a hub for activism, community development, and social services. The new facility was named after UBP’s second executive director, Lorraine Montenegro, who died in 2017 in the aftermath of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria. The RBML’s newly processed collection documents UBP’s path from its founding and the legacy that the new facility sought to honor.

Photograph of United Bronx Parents marching in a New York City parade, c.2000

In 1965, United Bronx Parents began as a grassroots coalition of Puerto Rican parents and activists concerned with the quality of their South Bronx public schools. Founder Evelina López Antonetty (1922-1984) brought her experience as an organizer and as a parent together to call for changes to an unequal and segregated school system. United Bronx Parents led workshops that trained parents to advocate for bilingual schools, more relevant curricula, and free lunch, among other demands. They called for “parent power,” joining the many Black and Latinx activists that fought for community control in the 1960s. These efforts led to the decentralization of the New York City school system in 1969. Other successes included the founding of the first bilingual public school in New York City, and a free summer lunch program that fed thousands of children. Continue reading

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.”

New Acquisition | The Bakhmeteff Archive acquires Arkadii Belinkov’s papers

Arkadii Belinkov spent 12 years behind the bars. Photo taken in 1968.

The Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European  History and Culture has acquired a throve of correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts, photographs, personal documents and ephemera of Arkadii Belinkov (1921-1970), a well-known Soviet writer and dissident.  Belinkov received his higher education at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute and Moscow State University. During World War II, he was briefly employed as a correspondent for the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia. During this time he wrote a number of literary works, including fiction and critiques.

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Librarian Jane Siegel picks favorites from the RBML collections

The Current, a journal of contemporary politics, culture, and Jewish affairs at Columbia, stopped in to the RBML to speak with Jane Siegel, Librarian for Rare Books.

She’s all-around fount of knowledge about how so many of our rarities and oddities came to reside in Butler Library.

Read more about Jane’s career here in the Libraries and which items in the RBML’s vast repository are her favorite. Yes, we play favorites.

Summer Processing of Hebraica and Judaica materials

During the summer, as things quiet down on campus, we often turn to large processing projects, providing further access to many of our otherwise unknown holdings.  This summer has been no different in the Hebraica and Judaica collections.  In past years, our talented students have cataloged about 2000 rare printed Hebrew books, which can now, thanks to their work, be accessed via CLIO.

Vilner Trupe “Yoyvelbuch,” 1931

The major focus of this summer’s work will be archival processing. Due to the tireless efforts of Kevin Schlottman, RBML’s Head Archivist, our archival collections can now be found much more easily. We’re ensuring that once someone requests a formerly unprocessed collection, it will be easier to study the collection thanks to updated finding aids and description.

Sandra Chiritescu, a Ph.D. candidate in the Yiddish department, has been tackling our many Yiddish collections. Sandra has been working in the RBML for quite some time, and did an incredible job reprocessing the massive Language and Culture Archive of Ashkenzic Jewry and creating a finding aid for that collection as well as that of Marvin Herzog, who led the project for decades after the untimely death of its founder, Uriel Weinreich.

Poster from the Szajkowski collection

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In Passing | Composer, arranger Sid Ramin dies at 100

Award-winning composer, arranger and orchestrator Sid Ramin died this week at age 100. He was best known for his work as orchestrator for several prominent Broadway productions, including West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962). He also composed and arranged scores for films and television programs, including Candid Camera, All My Children (for which he won a Daytime Emmy), The Milton Berle Show, and the made-for-television 1973 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

Ramin was also well known for composing “Music to Watch Girls By,” written as a commercial jingle for Diet Pepsi and first released in 1966 as a single by Bob Crewe. Have a listen.

See the finding aid for Ramin’s collected papers here in the RBML.

How to tame an opossum…and other childhood preoccupations through the Barnard children’s letters

In 1876, Sanford Curtis asked John Hall Barnard about his career plans, depicting the options of a naval officer aboard a ship or a man sitting in an office. His own plans took the shape of a detailed farm scene with animals and a hoe, a rake, and a pitchfork.

Processing collections according to updated archival standards gives RBML archivists the opportunity to discover anew our collections. In this post, Processing Archivist Celeste Brewer offers us insights into the practice of children writing letters during the Civil War-era. Historians typically foreground the writings and papers of “Great Men,” but as Celeste notes, paying attention to children’s words and ideas helps us see nuances in interpersonal relationships of the past.

With summer vacation here for most school-aged U.S. children, perhaps Willy Fred, Porter and John will inspire you to get your kids to put pen to paper instead of eyes-to-screen. 

“We have bows and arrows and we shoot the pigs away from the gate,” seven-year-old Willy Fred Barnard announced to his father on October 4, 1854.  This news opened the earliest in a group of letters written by children between 1854 and 1878, which can be found in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s newly processed Barnard Family Papers collection.

William Frederick Barnard (1848-1863) and his older brother, Augustus Porter Barnard (1847-1911), wrote letters to their father, John Gross Barnard (1815-1882) as soon as they were able.  These letters are unusual for several reasons.  First, that they exist at all; the Barnard children came from a wealthy family that valued education highly.  (Their uncle, Frederick A. P. Barnard, would become president of Columbia College in 1864.)  Willy Fred and Porter were privileged to be educated by private tutors from approximately the age of six.

The first letter from Willy Fred Barnard to his father, John Gross Barnard, about a visit with family at Niagara, New York.

Even the minority of young children living in the mid-nineteenth century who could both read and write—and had access to writing tools more permanent than a piece of chalk and a slate—had little reason to write letters to their parents until they were old enough to go away to school.  However, Willy Fred and Porter’s father was an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Their mother had died in 1853.  The boys lived in rural Maryland with their aunt and uncle, Sophia and William F. Brand.

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