Digital Collections


Columbia University Libraries digitizes its rare and unique collections for the purposes of preservation, access, and online exhibition. Most unbound materials, including photographs, posters, drawings, objects, ephemera, and manuscripts, as well as archival “born” digital files can be found via the Digital Library Collections (DLC) website. Bound and printed materials, notably rare books, may be accessed via CLIO, the Columbia Libraries online catalog, and the Internet Archive. Online Exhibitions provide a highly curated means of accessing selected digitized objects.

Digital Collections

Ford IFP Logo

Ford IFP Archive
The archives cover the issues of social justice, community development, and access to higher education, and include paper and digital documentation and audiovisual materials on the more than 4,300 IFP Fellows as well as comprehensive planning and administrative files of the program.

John Jay

John Jay Papers
The Papers of John Jay is an image database and indexing tool comprising some 13,000 documents (more than 30,000 page images) scanned chiefly from photocopies of original documents. Most of the source material was assembled by Columbia University's John Jay publication project staff during the 1960s and 1970s under the direction of the late Professor Richard B. Morris.

Community Service Society

Community Service Society Photographs
An online presentation of almost 1400 photographs from the Community Service Society Records at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. They offer representations of pressing social issues in late-19th- and early-20th-century New York.

Lehman correspondence

Lehman Special Correspondence Files
A searchable database of selected correspondence to and from New York Governor and U.S. Senator Herbert H. Lehman (1878-1963).

Joseph Urban stage design model

Joseph Urban Stage Design Models & Documents
The digitization of Urban’s work was part of a larger project funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to preserve, photograph, stabilize, and improve access to approximately 340 three-dimensional stage models created by Urban for New York theaters.


Web Archiving

Archive-It

The Columbia University Libraries (CUL) have been capturing websites via the Archive-It service since June 2010. The CUL's commitment to integrating web archiving into ongoing collection development and preservation best practice is informed by collaboration with other research libraries and the broader web archiving community.

The RBML has selected to capture the websites from organizations or individuals whose papers or records are held in our physical archives. For example, the RBML preserve the sites related to the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program (IFP), those related to the Carnegie Collections, as well as authors such as Erica Jong and Amiri Baraka. Visit the RBML Archive-It collection for the roster of websites.


Columbia University Publications

Columbia Library Columns

Columbia Library Columns, 1951-1996
Columbia Library Columns was published from 1951 to 1996. Over the years contributors included faculty, University administrators, writers, historians and collectors, as well as Columbia librarians. Articles focused on individual collections, special acquisitions, literary topics and issues relating to the growth of Columbia's libraries and special collections generally.

Columbia Spectator

Columbia Spectator Digital Archive
This online resource is the result of a partnership between the Spectator and Columbia University Libraries, and funded jointly by the Libraries and through generous gifts from Spectator alumni and friends, especially members of the class of 1958. You can now search issues published from 1877 to 2012. Whenever possible pages were scanned from original paper copies and digitized using state of the art technology that provides full-page, searchable reproductions of articles, photographs, and advertisements. For articles published more recently, please search the main Spectator website.

Featured Online Exhibitions

Sydney Howard Gay's "Record of Fugitives"

Sydney Howard Gay's "Record of Fugitives"
In 1855 and 1856, Sydney Howard Gay, a key operative in the underground railroad in New York City, decided for unknown reasons to meticulously record the arrival of fugitive slaves at his office.  The resulting two volumes are a treasure trove of information about how and why slaves escaped, who assisted them, and where they were sent from New York. This website explores this important artifact in detail, displaying the journals in their entirety, and offering additional annotations and analytical commentary by Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University.

Early Modern Futures

Early Modern Futures
This exhibition accompanies the Early Modern Futures conference held on April 24, 2015 as well as a physical exhibition in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Early Modern Futures seeks to spark a conversation about the many ways in which early modern literature practices prospective historical thinking. It asks how beliefs about future events (from the eschatological to the economic to the genealogical) shaped peoples actions in the present; how early modernity analogized historical and prospective thinking; and how various textual and literary forms--whether records, scripts, manuals, genres, or editions--sought to represent the future and even anticipate their own reception.

Barney Rosset

Barney Rosset and China
The photographs in this exhibit were taken during 1944 and 1945 by Grove Press founder, Barney Rosset, and other colleagues, when he was a photographer in the US Army Signal Corps stationed in China. The photos document U.S. cooperation with Chinese soldiers, the surrender, and Japanese retreat, as well as devastation caused by the fighting. The exhibition also demonstrates Rosset's interest in China preceding this post and afterward in his career as a publisher. The materials come from the Barney Rosset Papers held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Sergei Diaghilev

Sergei Diaghilev and Beyond: Les Ballets Russes
The diversity and splendor of Sergei Diaghilev's world of Russian ballet and opera seasons in Paris was on display at the Chang Octagon Exhibition Room, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, March 16 through June 26, 2009. The exhibition features selections from the Bakhmeteff Archive and Rare Book and Manuscript Library collections.

Complete list of RBML Online Exhibitions.


Search Tools

Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) is an international digital library project aimed at putting text and images of cuneiform tablets online. The RBML's collection, searchable here, is made up of more than 500 cuneiform texts, diverse in contents, mostly from the Ur III period.

Digital Scriptorium

Digital Scriptorium is a consortium of libraries and museums, including the RBML and other Columbia University libraries, committed to free online access to their collections of pre-modern manuscripts. All the medieval and Renaissance manuscript holdings of the RBML have short descriptions and images on Digital Scriptorium.

Homer Papyrus Fragment

In 1995 the Advanced Papyrological Information System was started to create a collections-based repository of information about and images of papyrological materials (e.g., papyri, ostraca, wooden tablets, etc.). Now with Papyri.info, it is possible to view descriptions and images of items in the RBML collection.