Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Robert College Archive

NEW YORK, April 4, 2007 Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library has recently acquired the archive of Robert College of Istanbul, the oldest American school outside the United States, active since 1863.

Founded by two Americans, philanthropist Christopher Rhinelander Robert and Cyrus Hamlin, to offer an “American style” education under the Ottoman Empire, Robert College has been in operation longer than any other American-sponsored school outside the United States. The school and its sister institution, The American College for Girls (founded in 1871) have over the years educated many of Turkey's leading citizens since the Republic was founded in 1923, including two Prime Ministers, many cabinet-level ministers, and leaders in medicine, law, business and the arts.

“The Robert College Archive represents one of the most important examples of American 19th century ideals. With the help of a wealthy American, Christopher Robert, Hamlin was able to build a school, open to all and based on a scientific curriculum. The archives reflect a deep and lasting bond between the United States and Turkey,” said David Cuthell, Executive Director of the Institute for Turkish Studies (Washington, DC), and professor at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, as well as at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Discussions with Prof. Cuthell (who is also a Trustee of Robert College) leading to the donation of the archive to Columbia were initiated by Columbia's Middle East and Jewish Studies Librarian, Dr. Hossein Kamaly.

The archives of the school go back to its very beginnings and include correspondences, governance documents, faculty files, buildings and facilities files, and an extensive collection of historic photographs.  The archive is exceptional in its breadth and depth.

“This is an extremely valuable resource for those who work on many diverse subjects such as the histories of the late Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey, Bulgaria, missionary activities, etc.. Especially those who are doing research on the formative years of the Turkish intellectual, literary and political figures such as Halide Edip, Bulent Ecevit, Orhan Pamuk and others will find these archives very valuable," added Professor Etem Erol, Lecturer in Turkish at the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University.

When organized and processed, the Robert College archive will be available for use. For further information, call the RBML at 212-854-5153.

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 is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

The Libraries' Area Studies Division provides specialized collections and research support services through its world-region experts, such as Dr. Kamaly, who is responsible for the development of the Turkish collections, considered amongst the strongest in this country. For more information, please see:

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children's literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, please see: