About the University Archives

The Columbia University Archives preserves the institutional memory of Columbia University from its founding in 1754 to the present-day. Among its holdings are non-current official University records and a wide variety of other materials, including the records of student organizations, materials that pertain to alumni, publications, photographs, scrapbooks, and artifacts.* The University Archives' holdings are non-circulating, may only be used in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library Reading Room, and are open for research and reference use to all members of the University community and the public. 


In order to use the collections, visitors to the University Archives and Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) are required to register their own Special Collections Research Account before their visit and validate it in-person with government issued photo identification or Columbia ID. You will be asked for a current address, telephone number, and other contact information.

If you do not have a Columbia identification card, for library access first visit the Library Information Office (LIO), located immediately to the left of the security desk inside the front door of Butler Library. Present a government issued photo ID, tell LIO staff that you are coming to use the Rare Book & Manuscript Library collections, and give them an estimate of the number of days you plan to use the library. The LIO will then issue you a temporary access pass that provides access to RBML.

To receive the most efficient service, we recommend that you contact the University Archives before visiting.

Photocopies can be provided by Archives staff for a fee and digital photography of materials with a personal camera is allowed in our reading room. The University Archives reserves the right to withhold permission to access and/or copy certain materials for the protection of fragile items or the confidentiality of restricted materials.

* The University Archives does not collect records from the University's Law School, Health Sciences campus, Earth Institute, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Nevis Laboratories, Barnard College, or Teachers College, although information about those divisions and affiliates may be found among the holdings of the University Archives.