Tag Archives: Columbia

The RBML’s Fall 2019 Exhibitions

New Collection | Morningside resident’s papers document her fight against CU’s 1960s gentrification

On October 7, 2018 Marie Runyon passed away at 103. Rachel Klepper, a summer intern with RBML’s archives, shares what she’s found through processing the Marie Runyon collection.

In the early 1960s, Marie Runyon received notice that she and her young daughter would have to leave their Morningside Drive apartment building just a few years after moving to the neighborhood. Columbia College of Pharmacy, the owner of the building until it was later sold to Columbia University, planned to move its campus from Lincoln Center to Morningside Heights and would be evicting the tenants.  Runyon quickly began what would become an intense, decades-long legal battle to keep her apartment and those of her neighbors, which would bring her to the forefront of conflict over real estate and gentrification in Morningside Heights.

A collection of Marie Runyon’s papers, newly available in the Columbia University Archives, documents her life and her fight against Columbia through court records and through letters, articles, and flyers documenting the work of neighborhood and student activists. These papers reflect Runyon’s outspokenness and the tenacity she brought to her personal life and her organizing work. They also demonstrate her commitment to highlighting critical questions about the impact of Columbia University’s expansion in Morningside Heights and Harlem on individual residents and on the racial and economic makeup of the neighborhood. Continue reading

Amelia Earhart’s Adventurous Side

Carrie E. Hintz

Alright, so the images here are a bit fuzzy but what they show is a young Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) perched on top of the domed roof of Columbia’s Low Library.


Earhart attended Columbia University’s School of General Studies from 1919-1920 (and again, briefly, in the spring of 1925) intending to go on to medical school. Though discovering aviation shifted her career goals away from medicine, she did make full use of her time at Columbia to explore the campus.

In her memoir, The Fun of It, Earhart recalls: "I was familiar with all the forbidden underground passageways which connected the different buildings of the University.  I think I explored every nook and cranny possible. I have sat in the lap of the gilded statue which decorates the library steps, and I was probably the most frequent visitor on the top of the library dome. I mean the top".  (p. 22).



These pictures, taken in 1920 by Earhart’s college friend Louise De Schweinitz (1898-1997) (later Louise De Schweinitz Darrow, MD), prove that she wasn’t lying about her illicit explorations of the campus.  These images show Earhart on the top of Low Library with Morningside Heights spread out below her.

Clearly, even before she took her first flight, Earhart was already exploring her adventurous side (and proving she didn’t have a fear of heights)!