Tag Archives: Oral History Archives

Columbia University Libraries’ New and Noteworthy Acquisitions

From seventeenth-century Japan to twentieth-century New York, the Libraries’ latest acquisitions span place and time, bridging countries and cultures and furthering the Libraries’ mission to support a global community of scholars. Here is a selection of new and noteworthy holdings from the Libraries’ special collections and archives and digital resources in women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Distinctive Collections

Sagabon Ise Monogatari. Sagabon (“Saga book”) is the generic name for publications produced by the printing studio of Soan Suminokura in Saga village (near Kyoto) in the early Edo-period. Estimated to have been produced in 1608, these particular volumes are an early example of printing with movable wood blocks that contained multiple characters, connected by ligatures, which gives the illusion of handwritten calligraphic text that flows from one character to the next. This Sagabon was acquired in honor of Columbia’s distinguished Professor Donald Keene, a prominent Japanese literature scholar and steadfast supporter of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, who passed away in February 2019.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) made a number of important acquisitions in the past year, including:

William Yukon Chang Papers. A Chinese-American journalist and community organizer, Chang’s archive features unique materials related to New York City’s Chinatown, including the Chinese-American Times, an English-language weekly that he edited from the 1950s to the 1970s. In tandem with the Yuri Kochiyama Papers and the records of United Bronx Parents and the New York Guardians (an organization of African-American New York Police Department officers), this collection builds on efforts to enhance collections with a more inclusive archival record of the city’s history.

Publisher of the newspaper the Chinese-American Times, William Yukon Chang, provided a venue for Chinese Americans to read and write about their own communities.

Lydia Davis Papers. The archive of Man Booker International Prize recipient, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow, and 1970 alumna of Barnard College, Lydia Davis, was acquired in early 2019. According to Nicholas Dames, Theodore Kahan Professor of Humanities, Davis “will be regarded as one of the handful of truly significant American writers at the turn of the millennium. … Literary historians will be reckoning with her influence for decades to come, and her papers will be much sought after as a result.” The acquisition was announced in conjunction with a reading by Davis, sponsored by the Heyman Center for the Humanities.

Recent years have seen major acquisitions in the performing arts, including the archives of composer Serge Prokofiev and dancer Arthur Mitchell. This summer, two-time Tony Award and two-time Olivier Award-winning actress Patti LuPone donated a portion of her archive, including correspondence, annotated scripts, and memorabilia, enhancing RBML’s rapidly-growing performing arts collections.

Kimberly Springer, Curator of the Oral History Archive, has continued to add interviews to the archive that respond to urgent social issues, including “Mass Incarceration Through One American Family,” which concentrates on a single family caught in the middle of the mass incarceration crisis; “Mi Maria Puerto Rico,” which documents the aftermath of Hurricane Maria; and “The 40% Project,” which captures the stories of gun violence survivors.

Avery Library recently acquired the architectural archives of Haines Lundberg Waehler (HLW). In operation for 134 years, HLW is one of the oldest continuously-operating architecture and engineering firms in the United States. When founded in 1885, the firm quickly emerged as a pioneer of new technologies being applied in New York City architecture. Early commissions included the Metropolitan Telephone Building, designed for the company newly founded by Alexander Graham Bell. In the opening decades of the twentieth century, HLW emerged as a leader in the design of skyscrapers, constructing numerous iconic buildings. In 1905, they designed the New York Times Building, which established Times Square as a landmark and also created the first tall structure in the city with the an integrated subway station. Other designs included the Western Union Building in Soho (1930), the Salvation Army Headquarters on 14th Street (1930), and the Irving Trust Headquarters Building at 1 Wall Street (1931, pictured). The nature of the materials in the HLW collection is significant for how they illuminate underrepresented narratives in architecture, especially labor politics in relation to the history of the New York City built environment.

Manuscript journal of young woman’s conversion to Methodism. This unique journal dates from 1838-41, the end of the “Second Great Awakening” of evangelical pietism in the United States and shows in vivid detail the struggles of a young woman wrestling with the religious ideas of the era.

Ling-Ling: Revista misional ilustrada para ninos. Mid-twentieth century Spanish-language missionary periodical and comic that informs children about missionary practices around the world.

Bunriha kenchiku kai no sakuhin. A catalog of their second exhibition in 1921, the Bunriha kenchiku kai (Secessionist Architectural Group) initiated Japan’s avant-garde architectural movement. The group was founded in early 1920 by six students from the Architecture Department of Tokyo Imperial University and played a significant role in the development of Japanese modern architecture.

Electronic Resources

LGBT Magazine Archive. A searchable archive of periodicals that date from the 1950s, and provide access to backfiles of ephemeral and overseas titles not typically collected by libraries in the United States. The archive traces the evolution of LGBT history and culture, including legal contexts, health, politics, social attitudes, activism, gay rights, arts/literature, and for the first time makes digitally available the complete backfile of The Advocate. The oldest surviving, continuously-published American title of its type, and as one of the few LGBT titles to pre-date the 1969 Stonewall riots, The Advocate spans the history of the gay rights movement.

Gale Archives of Sexuality & Gender. This collection spans the sixteenth to twentieth centuries and is the largest digital collection of primary source materials relating to the history and study of sex, sexuality, and gender. Documentation covering social, political, health, and legal issues impacting LGBTQ communities around the world is included, as well as rare and unique books on sex and sexuality from the sciences to the humanities. Selection of materials for this digital program is guided by an advisory board consisting of leading scholars and librarians in sexuality and gender studies.

Women at Work during World War II. Contains records documenting the experience of American women during World War II: Records of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor and Correspondence of the Director of the Women’s Army Corps. Primary sources document a range of issues, including studies on the treatment of women by unions, women’s work in war industries, equal pay, childcare, race, and extensive documentation on those serving in the Women’s Army Corps.

Women’s Studies Manuscript Collections from the Schlesinger Library: Voting Rights, National Politics, and Reproductive Rights. This collection of materials from the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College tells the story of the fight for voting rights for women at the national, regional, and local levels. The papers of key national leaders like Julia Ward Howe, Anna Howard Shaw, and Matilda Gage are included. Equally important are the papers of lesser known state and local leaders like Catharine Waugh McCulloch of Illinois, Olympia Brown of Wisconsin, and Nellie Nugent Somerville of Mississippi. In addition to the voting rights papers, this resource also includes records on women involved in national politics, like Mary Dewson and Jeannette B. Rankin, plus records from the Schlesinger Library’s family planning oral history project and records of Mary Ware Dennett and the Voluntary Parenthood League.