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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Interesting narratives that are interwoven into Columbia University’s history can unravel simply by creating an online inventory for a collection. Recently, a series of letters was discovered within the Columbia College Papers that elucidate past events involving administrative prejudice, academic politics, and the Civil War.
After James Renwick, Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and Chemistry, retired from his professorship at Columbia College in 1853, Free Academy professor Oliver Wolcott Gibbs was nominated for the position in 1854. Gibbs, a Unitarian, faced the prejudice against the denomination that several Columbia College Trustees, unlike many New Yorkers at the time, held. Although there were some members of the Board of Trustees that supported Gibbs’ nomination the predominately Episcopalian board, which included six clergymen, chose to reject Gibbs based on his religious affiliation. The decision fueled bitterness amongst trustees and alumni that led to a postponement of centennial celebrations in what became known as the “Gibbs affair.”
One of the letters in this series of correspondence came from a special committee of the
United States Senate that was investigating whether or not Columbia’s Board of Trustees violated anti-discriminatory terms within the charter. The Senate committee asked a broad series of questions regarding the hiring practices of the Board of Trustees, one of which asked if the board has ever rejected a candidate “on account of his peculiar tenets in matters of religion?”.
The Board of Trustees invoked their Fifth Amendment rights for this question and the committee concluded that although individual board members may have violated charter’s terms, the Board of Trustees as a whole was not guilty.
Gibbs eventually became a distinguished researcher at Harvard following the affair, but the professor chosen instead of Gibbs, Richard Sears McCulloh, forged a very different reputation. On September 25, 1863, McCulloh submitted his letter of resignation to the Board of Trustees, stating “that one, born and reared a Southerner, prefers to cast his lot with that of the South.”
McCulloh left New York for Richmond, Virginia where he became a consulting chemist for the Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau.
The Board of Trustees initially acknowledged his resignation in correspondence with colleagues, but McCulloh’s decision to join the Confederacy prompted them to expel him from the faculty, as noted in the Board Minutes, rather than officially accepting the resignation. McCulloh went on to develop a lethal chemical gas for the Confederate Army, which was never used in combat. After his subsequent imprisonment he became a Professor of Mechanics and Thermodynamics at Washington College, where Robert E. Lee served as President, until 1878.
This rich story, spanning the course of a decade, was unearthed in a collection that holds countless narratives waiting to be told. An inventory of the Columbia College Papers will be made available online in the near future.
-Ian Post, Pratt SILS Intern
- Former-Governor David Paterson.
- Jim Neal, Columbia University Librarian.
- Dr. Khalil Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
- Ester Fuchs, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science, SIPA.
- Peggy Shepard, founder director of West Harlem Environmental Action.
Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, 6pm.
The Kellogg Center
1501 International Affairs Building
March 25, 2014 (Tuesday)
Butler Library, Room, 523, at 6:00 PM
The romanticization of the independent bookstore—haven of booklovers, erudite employees, and serendipitous discovery—obscures the historical reality of selling books—rapid turnover, failure, and looming bottom lines. But bookstores are also more than the sum of their books. This talk examines bookstores in New York City from 1820 to 1860, mapping their locations and movements to trace the retail landscape of a growing bookselling center, and presenting select case studies of stores, including Appleton & Co., to explore how the physical spaces and marketing strategies of retail booksellers helped shape the very definition of a bookstore and the contours of literary culture more generally. An understudied component of book history, the retail bookstore presented books as mass market goods in the nineteenth century and participated in the lively and varied cultural life of antebellum New York City.
Kristen Doyle Highland is a PhD Candidate in the English Department at New York University. Her dissertation project, “At the Bookstore: Literary and Cultural Experience in Antebellum New York City,” examines the physical forms, social life, and cultural significance of the retail bookstore in 19th century Manhattan. Her research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the American Antiquarian Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Bibliographical Society of America.
The Book History Colloquium at Columbia University, open to any discipline, aims to provide a broad outlet for the scholarly discussion of book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research, and (ideally) the promotion of research and publication in these fields. Our presenters include Columbia faculty members and advanced graduate students, and scholars of national prominence from a range of institutions.
Questions? Email Karla Nielsen.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-hero as Combat Photographer in China, an exhibition at Kunming City Museum, in Kunming City, Yunnan, China, which features a collection of RBML’s photographs of China from World War II by Grove Street Press publisher Barney Rosset.
Astrid Rosset at the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-Hero as Combat Photographer in China at Kunming City Museum (Photo: Arthur Bijur)
The exhibition, which opened on February 20, was co-curated by Bob Bergin, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer; Astrid Rosset, Barney Rosset’s widow, and Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literature at RBML. The curators chose approximately 100 images from the collection, which were then digitized by the RBML and printed by the Kunming City Museum.
The photographs in the exhibition were taken by Rosset during his time with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in China toward the end of World War II (1944-1945). In 1945, Rosset was tasked with documenting for the United States that Chinese soldiers were willing to fight. The photographs depict Chinese and American soldiers in training and combat, the devastation caused by the Ichi-Go operation (The Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi), the largest Japanese land campaign of the war, the Japanese retreat, and the signing of the surrender in Nanking. Rosset joined the Chinese troops at Kweiyang, the deepest point of Japanese penetration before they began to retreat.
Little documentation from this period remains in China and the newly opened Kunming City Museum was eager to mount an exhibition of Rosset’s photographs. According to Bergin, Rosset (who passed away in 2012) wished that his photos of a difficult period in Chinese history could be shown to China’s new generations. The exhibition includes digital prints of his photographs, copies of letters he wrote home during that period, and documents that demonstrate Rosset’s interest in China throughout his life and career.
Rosset bought the fledgeling Grove Press in 1951 and transformed it into the leading publisher of avant-garde literature and political writing. Grove published Che Guevara, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and Malcolm X.
Concurrent with the brick-and-mortar exhibition in China, the RBML has created an online exhibition containing many of these images, which can be viewed on the exhibition website.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.