The Atlantic Philanthropies Awards Columbia $1.1 Million to Record the Organization’s Oral History


NEW YORK, April 14, 2005 - Columbia University Libraries will receive $1.1 million over three years from The Atlantic Philanthropies to create an oral history archive of the organization. The Atlantic Philanthropies Oral History Project will give researchers and scholars the opportunity to explore and learn about the decision-making process, the outcomes of grant-funded programs, and the international philanthropic and business practices of The Atlantic Philanthropies and its founder, Mr. Charles F. Feeney.

Columbia’s Oral History Research Office (OHRO), under the leadership of its Director, Mary Marshall Clark, will conduct taped interviews with over 100 individuals, including current and former members of the institution’s Board; financial, philanthropic, and legal advisors; and grantees.

James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, said, “Columbia’s Oral History Research Office is preeminent and uniquely positioned to create a comprehensive and lasting archive of Atlantic Philanthropies’ extraordinary impact in the world.”

“Atlantic Philanthropies is a unique story in the history of philanthropy both in the United States and internationally,” added Clark. “AP’s historic contributions in the field of education, the peace process, and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations are central to our understanding of the creative role that philanthropy can play in an increasingly complex world-situation.”

The work will be conducted in two phases. The interviewing phase will run for 24 months, from July 2005 through June 2007. The second phase, post-production, will run from July 2007 through April 2008. During this time the evaluating, processing, preserving, and archiving of all of the interviews will be accomplished.

The interviews will yield approximately 560 hours of material, including a life history of Mr. Feeney. A team of skilled oral historians who are experts in the field of philanthropy will work together to conduct the interviews. Clark will conduct lead interviews for the archive and work closely with researchers and interviewers to monitor the thematic and intellectual foci of the project. The interviews will complement OHRO’s holdings in the history of philanthropy, which include an extensive oral history of the Carnegie Corporation, as well as the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and many individual philanthropists.

The Atlantic Philanthropies are a group of Bermuda-based charitable foundations whose grant investments are focused internationally in four programme fields: Ageing, Disadvantaged Children and Youth, Population Health and Reconciliation and Human Rights. Atlantic’s mission is to bring about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

The Columbia University Oral History Research Office is the oldest and largest organized university-based oral history program open to the public in the world. Founded in 1948 by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Allan Nevins, the oral history collection now contains nearly 8,000 taped memoirs, and nearly 1,000,000 pages of transcript. The program is also a center for teaching and research, offering opportunities for students, visiting scholars and fellows.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

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04/14/05 JD