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
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.
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.
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.
What brings you to Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library?
[I’m here to] rummage archival properties for information that describes the challenges, path and journey taken to build a profile for Norma Merrick, the first African American female to graduate from the Columbia University School of Architecture (1946 to 1950) and become licensed that same year. I learned from Avery Library that the type of information that I was seeking (e.g. architectural course offerings, access to student activities, events, residential spaces, building and grounds, campus newspapers, correspondence records of attendance, etc.) could best be found in RBML. In particular I wanted to know the structures in place that helped Merrick continue enrolling in a program that had few women and possibly no other people of color. Above this, I was impressed that she was able to graduate on-time — that is, in four years.
How long have you been using RBML materials?
I arrived in early January 2019, after an Avery Hall librarian, informed me to further inquire on the 6th Floor of Butler. As a matter of fact, she directed me to the Rare Books and Manuscripts desk where I explained briefly why I was there and I was given the card of Ms. Jocelyn K. Wilk. I sent Ms. Wilk an email with much of the above mentioned information. Her immediate responding put me in the library within days. I attend the library twice a week. Continue reading
Working in an archive, one never knows which scrap of paper will be revealing.
What brings you to Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library?
I came to RBML to examine the library school application of Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen. I had been intrigued for some time by both her fiction and her career trajectory. She had successfully transitioned from nursing, to librarianship, to authorship in less than a decade, but although her novel Passing won substantial acclaim when it appeared in 1929, her story “Sanctuary” drew plagiarism charges just one year later. Larsen subsequently cut off her ties with the literary world she knew, stopped writing, and returned to nursing; she died alone and forgotten, leaving no papers. While working on an essay about the way Larsen used her reading in her writing (“Love and Theft: Plagiarism, Blackface, and Nella Larsen’s ‘Sanctuary,’” American Literature [September 2016]: 509-540) I learned from George Hutchinson’s biography that Larsen was the first African American to be accepted to [Columbia’s] library school in the United States, and that her application was housed at Columbia. I was curious to see the material artifact in its entirety. Continue reading
A sportising and betting tradition started on Staten Island by a barkeep, March Madness bracketology is upon us! RBML Records Manager Joanna Rios shares key moments in a timely University Archives exhibition.
The Columbia University Archives has on view a small exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of Columbia’s best men’s basketball team. In 1967-1968, Columbia won 23 of 28 games, the most victories in school history, and finished the season ranked sixth in the nation.
At the 1967 Holiday Festival, the most prestigious in-season tournament held at the World’s Most Famous Arena Madison Square Garden, the Columbia Varsity Basketball team defeated St. John’s to win their first and only Holiday Festival championship. This winter tournament victory was just the beginning. The Lions went on a 16-game winning streak (12 against Ivy League teams). They came into the last game of the season with the best record in Columbia’s history.