Columbia’s East Asian Library Launches Online Exhibition on Cornelius Vander Starr

CVStarr C.V. Starr talks with a Chinese customer in the front of a Chinese temple, in the Xishan hills, Wuxi, China. 1922.

The photographs and documents in this exhibition detail the career of Cornelius Vander Starr (1892–1968), an archetypal American success story. Starting from humble beginnings, he rose to the top of American business, founding what would become the AIG (American International Group, Inc.) insurance and financial services corporation. The exhibition reflects C. V. Starr’s legendary career and life as a businessman, journalist, lawyer, publisher, philanthropist, and a great humanitarian. The Starr Foundation and Columbia University Libraries collaborated to create this exhibit of items held by the Foundation to honor the exceptional achievements of C.V. Starr.

“This online exhibition documents the life of an extraordinary figure,” said Damon E. Jaggars, Interim Vice Provost and University Librarian.  “C. V. Starr’s sweeping impact on American business and culture is an important story to tell, and we are excited to partner with the Starr Foundation to tell it in this way.”

“This fine exhibit[ion] conveys not only the scope of his pioneering career, but also his wide range of interests, his commitment to people, wherever they were from, and his enduring internationalism,” Florence A. Davis, President of the Starr Foundation, states in the preface of the exhibition.

“Our library is one of direct beneficiaries of Mr. Starr’s commitment to supporting educational and cultural exchange with Asia,” said Jim Cheng, Director of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library.  “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Starr Foundation and curate these rare materials through an exhibition dedicated to Mr. Starr.”

To view the exhibition, visit

The C.V. Starr East Asian Library is one of the major collections for the study of East Asia in the United States, with over 1 million volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Western language materials, as well as some holdings in Mongol and Manchu, over 8,500 periodical titles, 4.5 million e-books, and many archival and special collections. The collection, established in 1902, is particularly strong in Chinese history, literature, and social sciences; Japanese literature, history, and religion, particularly Buddhism; Korean history, and modern Tibetan studies. For more information, please visit

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year.  The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: