Category Archives: New E-Resources

Columbia Libraries Launches Website for the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (LCAAJ)

Columbia Libraries is very pleased to announce the launch of the website for the digitized data of the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry. An accompanying guide to the use of the digitized materials with many supplementary materials is also available.

The LCAAJ archive is an extraordinary resource for research in Yiddish studies that can shed much valuable light on language, ethnography, literature, folklore and music, anthropology, linguistics, Germanic and Slavic studies, and aspects of Central and East European history. The archive consists of over 600 interviews conducted between 1959 and 1972 with native speakers of Yiddish during a long-range comparative study to document the effects of physical, linguistic, and cultural channels and barriers on the geographic fragmentation of the Jewish and diverse non-Jewish populations that coexisted in Central and Eastern Europe before World War II. The LCAAJ project collected its interviews at essentially the last moment, when a diverse body of native speakers was still alive, aiming to address both the challenge of an endangered linguistic and cultural legacy, and the special potential that Yiddish provides for studying language and cultural contact and change.

The LCAAJ archive consists of over 600 interviews conducted between 1959 and 1972 with native speakers of Yiddish, documenting the effects of physical, linguistic, and cultural channels and barriers on the geographic fragmentation of the Jewish and diverse non-Jewish populations that coexisted in Central and Eastern Europe before World War II.

This two-year project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, digitized approximately 140,000 pages of interview documents containing data from the interviews, carried out optical character recognition (OCR) and mark-up of the printed responses to enable their content to be searched and manipulated, and made all the digitized content freely available to scholars via the Digital Library Collections at Columbia. Additional work, funded by the Libraries, allowed for complete reprocessing of the full LCAAJ archive for scholarly use. This source for historical, literary, or anthropological research, for the study of languages in contact, and for the evolution and differentiation of language communities, is now available to a worldwide community of scholars.

The written materials accompany more than 5,700 hours of recorded interviews that Columbia Libraries has already digitized through generous support from NEH, private foundations, the New York State Conservation/Preservation Program, and Evidence of Yiddish Documented in European Societies (EYDES, a project of the German Förderverein für Jiddische Sprache und Kultur), through which the audio is publicly available. The long-term goal is to eventually link the written content to the audio recordings of the interviews and make the entire audio and written corpus available to students and scholars in an integrated form.

The interviews contain a wealth of comments about Jewish culture and history from a place and time that is largely out of our reach today. Bringing the LCAAJ archive into the digital environment will exponentially increase its value to historians of Jewish Studies and European history, linguists, anthropologists, and students and teachers of Yiddish. The availability of this data will greatly facilitate the online work of scholars to continue and enhance the important mapping work begun in the first three volumes of the printed Atlas, which were published by Niemeyer in 1992-2000.

As part of the launch of the project, an exhibition called “Yiddish at Columbia” will be mounted in the Chang Octagon Gallery in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library in early March. Additional events will be announced at a later date.

Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month and what better way to acknowledge African-American history than through scholarly research? The Libraries' are fortunate enough to house rare archives of many African-American men and women that made a difference in the course of history. 

One such online exhibit,"The Unwritten History," features digital reproductions of more than sixty individual pages from scrapbooks that document African-American history from the early-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Drawn from the Alexander Gumby Collection of Negroiana, this exhibition introduces visitors to the collection's remarkable curator, Alexander Gumby, and explores how and why he set out to preserve items that he felt could provide the documentary evidence for later histories of African Americans.

In addition to being noteworthy in its own right, the Alexander Gumby Collection of Negroiana complements several other collections held by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Hubert H. Harrison Papers, H. Lawrence Freeman Papers, and M. Moran Weston Papers are all important repositories of documents and other items related to the political, cultural, and social histories of Harlem during the twentieth century. Numerous other collections such as the Max J. and Ruth Clement Bond Papers and the Robert Minor Papers document African-American history more generally. Additional collections feature extensive examples of the use of  scrapbooks as a documentary tool in US history, including the Chester Alan Arthur Scrapbooks and the George R. Van Namee Scrapbooks.

The Libraries are also home to the papers of Amiri Baraka (formerly known as LeRoi Jones), American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays, and music criticism.

New Database Trial Round-up!

by Jessica Gentile, Social Media Intern

Here are some new database trials to check out this week. Remember, access is limited to the trial period offered so be sure to note the end date for each database.

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice
This resource contains primary source documents pertaining to subjects of slavery, abolition and social justice including an interactive map, scholarly essays, tutorials, a visual sources gallery, chronology and bibliography. Please note that the ‘download to PDF’ functionality is not available during trial access. The trial runs through August 7, 2011.

London Low Life
London Low Life is a full-text searchable resource, containing color digital images of rare books, ephemera, maps and other materials relating to nineteenth and early twentieth century London. Please note that the ‘download to PDF’ functionality is not available during trial access. The trial runs through August  7, 2011.

Victorian Popular Culture
Divided into three fascinating segments (Spiritualism, Sensation and Magic; Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks; and Musical Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment) this resource covers some of the most popular pastimes of the in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in great detail. Please note that the ‘download to PDF’ functionality is not available during trial access. The trial runs through August 7, 2011.

Confidential Print: North America
Covering 1824 – 1961, taking in the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America, this collection includes some of the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Office of the British government. The trial runs through August 7, 2011.

The American West
The American West contains original manuscripts, maps, ephemeral material (trade cards, wanted posters, photos, claim certificates, news-sheets etc) and other rare materials, all of which document the history and culture of the American West. The trial runs through August 7, 2011.

New Database Roundup!

by Jessica Gentile, Social Media Intern

Here’s a roundup of some of the Libraries’ newest databases and electronic resources.

Christian Periodical Index
Christian Periodical Index provides indexing for a wide variety of evangelical Christian journals, including Journal of Christian Nursing, Hymn, Bible and Spade, Discipleship Journal and many more.

Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: Artists of the world
This database contains biographical information on more than one million artists.

Communication Abstracts
Communication Abstracts contains abstracts for all articles, reports and books that pertain to communication-related topics. Coverage includes communication literature and literature in other related disciplines, such as international literature in film studies, role of technology in human communications, risk communications and more.

India, Raj and Empire
Drawing upon the manuscript collections of the National Library of Scotland, India, Raj and Empire provides access to digital facsimiles of diaries, journals, official and private papers and other original Indian works from 1710-1937 that document the pivotal role Scots played in the relationship between Britain and India.

Ireland Collection
The Ireland Collection is an interdisciplinary collection of journals and other materials in disciplines such as music, art, history, literature, archaeology, mathematics, and biology. The content is international in scope, while also providing a rich focus on Ireland.

CLIO New Arrivals Now Publicly Available

by Jessica Gentile

The Library Information Technology Office is now making CLIO New Arrivals publicly available on the main CLIO web page. This service allows you to search and discover new acquisitions from within the past three months by the Columbia University Libraries. You can search for resources by title, author and keyword as well as limit your search by format, publication date, language, region, topic and more.

The CLIO New Arrivals service, currently available in public beta, also features a feedback widget on the left side of the page, where you can provide comments about your user experience. Please let the Libraries know what you think of the capabilities and design of this great new service! 

CUL Digital Collections: The Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes

The Libraries is pleased to announce a new digital collection! The Biggert Collection contains over 1,300 items with architectural imagery spanning the dates 1850 to 1920, from more than 350 cities and towns in 45 states, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. possessions. The collection’s billheads, letterheads, envelopes, checks, and business cards document the rise of the United States as an industrial nation, in often elaborate vignettes of factories, warehouses, mines, offices, stores, banks, and hotels.

New York City is particularly well-represented with over 100 items portraying structures below Houston Street alone. The images represent a variety of settings (such as factories, warehouses, mines, offices, stores, banks, and hotels) across a range of enterprises from printing, roofing, and brewing to wagon works, cordage, and merchandising.


“Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal” New Online Exhibit!

The Columbia University Libraries are pleased to launch a new online exhibition, "Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal." Frances Perkins (1880-1965) is no longer a household name, yet she was one of the most influential women of the twentieth century. Government official for New York State and the federal government, including Industrial Commissioner of the State of New York from 1929-1932, Perkins was named Secretary of Labor by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. As FDR’s friend and ally, Perkins would help the president fight the economic ravages caused by the Great Depression and make great strides toward improving workplace conditions.



This online exhibition complements the physical exhibit running through the end of March in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML). Both exhibits feature correspondence, manuscripts, notes, drafts of speeches, photographs, and memorabilia from RBML’s extensive collection of Frances Perkins’ papers. Material is continually being added to the website as images of items in the physical exhibit become available.

Columbia Image Bank on ARTStor

The Columbia Image Bank is now available as a hosted collection in the ARTstor digital image library. Columbia users can search the Image Bank as a separate collection, or alongside all ARTstor content.

The Image Bank includes over 66,000 images covering a broad range of subjects, cultures and time periods. Access outstanding examples of the visual arts and material culture from the world’s major collections, stills of performance pieces, photographs, drawings and renderings of architecture and sites.

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To search the Columbia Image Bank, click "GO" to enter the ARTstor digital library. Then click "Columbia University Image Bank" under "Institutional Collection at the bottom of the page.




New Digital Collection: The New York Real Estate Brochure Collection

The New York Real Estate Brochure Collection is an invaluable resource for studying and conducting research about New York City apartment buildings. You can browse or search by address, building name, neighborhood, architect, and owner/agent. Buildings are also encoded with GIS coordinates so that locations and neighborhoods can be displayed using the Google Maps application. We invite you to contribute comments about individual buildings, creating an even richer set of descriptions and potentially valuable historical context.

Columbia University Libraries is in the process of digitizing the entire collection of New York City real estate brochures. Brooklyn is now complete with over 3,000 images for approximately 800 buildings. The Real Estate Brochures collection is divided into places, such as buildings or neighborhoods, and people, such as architects or owners/agents.

Digitized images for Manhattan are scheduled to be released in early 2010.