Tag Archives: exhibition

Dining with Homer: University Commons in 1919

University Commons Artwork

Detail of “The Battle,” Homer’s Iliad, XVI.565-566 from the University Commons dining room (Scan #4707). Historical Photograph Collection, Box 177 folder 4, Columbia University Archives

The University Archives exhibition cube currently features some photographs of the University Commons, the on-campus dining room in the old University Hall located behind Low Library. The Commons had served as a highly-efficient cafeteria while the student-soldiers of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) were on campus in 1918-1919. With the end of World War I, a committee was tasked with devising a plan to make the unattractive and previously barely-used University Commons more appealing to the students and staff. Management was placed in the hands of University officials who had known success at Teachers College and during the SATC days. In the weeks following the Summer Session of 1919 the entire look of the room was transformed: paintings were placed on the walls featuring scenes from Greek vases, surrounded by verses from Homer and Hesiod, and even the rafters were decorated. The changes were a huge success.

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In the Desert

Lou Little and CU Football Players at the El Conquistador Hotel in Tucson, Arizona.

On December 19, 1933, the Columbia Lion football players set out on a cross-country trip to Pasadena, California to play in the 1934 Rose Bowl against the heavily favored Stanford. Every player making the cross-country trip was insured for $5,000 to guard against possible injuries on the train ride to California and back. The Lions traveled by night and practiced by day with stops in St. Louis, Dallas and Tucson, Arizona, where they drilled for a full week in the desert sun.

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Cliff Montgomery

Ticket for 1934 Rose Bowl game between Columbia and Stanford.

In preparing the “Roar, Lion, Roar” Columbia football exhibition (on view at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Chang Octagon through December 20), we found a great detail about the 1934 Rose Bowl game in the New York Times obituary for Cliff Montgomery, the quarterback and MVP of Columbia’s victory over Stanford. According to the Times, “Montgomery’s fake to Brominski was so good that Barabas, who was hiding the ball for what would be a naked reverse, added to the deception by standing for a few seconds and watching Brominski.” (23 April 2005) We had to use that in an exhibition label! However, what we found even more interesting is that back in December 1933, Columbia was considered such an underdog that the Times didn’t even send a reporter to cover the game. That’s how unlikely the upset seemed at the time.

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Football is Back!

The Columbia Jester, October 1915, cover artwork by G.W.T. Gillette, CC 1918. Call# CP1 C723

In the “Roar, Lion, Roar” exhibition on Columbia football (on view now at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library), we have a couple of documents on display illustrating “The Ban.” In November 1905, the University Committee on Student Organizations voted to abolish intercollegiate football at Columbia. Other colleges and universities similarly discontinued the sport following a season of repeated injuries and deaths. The Ban at Columbia lasted 10 years and when football returned in 1915, it was reestablished with a number of limitations (which teams Columbia could not play against, when the games would be scheduled, how many games, etc.) and on a probationary basis for the first five years.

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Jack Kerouac Played Football Here!

Jack Kerouac in Columbia Football uniform as a reserve player, 1942

Jack Kerouac came to Columbia in 1940 on a football scholarship. Unfortunately, the all-Massachusetts State player in high school suffered a broken leg in only his second game of his freshman year. In a memoir by C. Ogden Beresford (CC 1943) available at the University Archives, there is a first-person account of Kerouac after the tragic accident. Oggie, as he was known, recalled the freshman who shared a connecting room in Livingston Hall (now Wallach Hall) with his friend Jimmy Crump: Continue reading

Homecoming Ball 1948

Mamie and Dwight D. Eisenhower arriving for the October 16, 1948 Homecoming Ball

In addition to the great teams, coaches and players in the history of Columbia football featured in our exhibition “Roar, Lion, Roar“, on view at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, we wanted to show football from the fans’ point-of-view – the history of the experience of going to a game. In the exhibit we feature the different venues that have served as home fields for the Lions and also highlight the other traditions: the mascot, the school song, the cheerleaders and Homecoming. Continue reading

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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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.

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ROAR, LION, ROAR: A CELEBRATION OF COLUMBIA FOOTBALL

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.

A Companion to Rackham

illustration of a spriteOur current exhibition “Enchanted Vision” showcases some of the works from the Arthur Rackham Collection held here at the RBML. Rackham, a British illustrator, illustrated 50 major works beginning with Rip Van Winkle in 1905, Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winnie the Pooh, and other English and American classics. As a companion to this exhibition, the University Archives has put together some materials to highlight the Collection’s origin and history at Columbia. Continue reading