Noteworthy Acquisitions, Digitization, and Conservation for 2023
The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Elizabeth A. Clark was a groundbreaking scholar of early Christianity, especially feminist approaches to early Christian texts and the role of women in the first Christian centuries. An alumna of Columbia, she was also a celebrated teacher and mentor of many scholars now working in the field.
This is an extremely rare 1827 edition of the New Testament in Greenlandic.
C.V. Starr East Asian Library
This collection consists of about 200 special publications in Chinese and English that range from a photograph album on the Harbin plague epidemic of the late Qing Dynasty and pandemic prevention reports of the Republican Period to booklets, pamphlets, posters, handbooks, and statistical reports on exterminating the "Four Pests" and eradicating schistosomiasis of the 20th century.
In association with the Libraries’ Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) program, "Affirming Queer Intimacies in Sinophone Cinema," which featured two classroom discussion sessions, three film screenings, and discussions with the directors in February 2023, the Starr East Asian Library acquired the films and related publications of critically-acclaimed queer filmmakers Zero Chou, Zi'en Cui, and Popo Fan. The new acquisitions includes 21 films, of which four streaming film contents have been uploaded into the Libraries’ hosting space, AVON (Academic Video Online), for convenient streaming access.
Donated by the family members of Yin Pu Huang, a Columbia alumnus (B.S. 1924; M.S. 1925, Business) from Canada and the United Kingdom, items from the collection include three hand scrolls, which artistically integrate dozens of paintings, poems, and calligraphic inscriptions by noted artists, scholars, calligraphers, and poets of 20th-century China.
The South Asia Commons is a fully searchable digital archive that encompasses millions of pages of valuable research and teaching materials, providing online access to documents that date to 1700 through 1953. The archive covers the Indian subcontinent, including India, Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, and contains both serial and non-serial materials, including reports, rare books, and journal runs from noteworthy and rare publications. The documents in the archive are interdisciplinary, reflecting the varied range of knowledge produced in colonial and early post-colonial India in fields such as culture and society, industry and economy, science, technology, medicine, urban planning and administration, and politics and law. Most of the material is in English, and about 30 percent of the documents are in vernacular languages, including Bengali and Sanskrit.
Humanities and History
Interwar Culture (Adam Matthew Digital)
Interwar Culture comprises runs of both prominent and lesser-known periodicals published throughout the interwar period, covering various facets of culture, entertainment, fashion, home and family life, world current affairs, class, and social and welfare issues. These historically significant and visually rich magazines provide an important insight into these dynamic yet turbulent decades, as well as allow examination of a growing media industry that both shaped and reflected society. Includes titles published in Britain, the United States, France, and Australia.
Jet Magazine Archive, 1951-2014 (EBSCO)
Jet was originally published as a sister publication to Ebony magazine by John H. Johnson beginning in 1951. It covered art, politics, fashion, entertainment, culture, and news related to the African-American community. The archive provides full-color, cover-to-cover access from 1951 through 2014, when the print magazine ceased publication.
This weekly newspaper has been one of the main Black newspapers in the local Louisville area and is an excellent source for coverage on issues affecting African Americans. The newspaper played an integral role in the fight for integration in the 1960s.
French Classiques Garnier Databases
The Humanities and History division acquired two French Classiques Garnier Databases that advance the diversity of the Libraries’ collections. Both are the only databases of their kind on the market and broaden access to Francophone texts that would otherwise only be in print or not available in the U.S. at all. Both are available from the Classiques Garnier platform:
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
This artist book by Ana Paula Cordeiro, who was born in Brazil but lives in northern Manhattan, documents the life of an immigrant artist, from 9/11 to ICE and the pandemic, through letterpress episodes. Excerpts from the author’s personal journals are supplemented by literary quotations and images of Cordeiro’s Manhattan neighborhood in woodcut, photographic processes, screenprint, and photopolymer on a variety of substrates. The shape of the volume reflects the opened envelopes that Emily Dickinson used to draft her poetry, and by design, the book is unable to stand on its own.
This 1511 Italian manuscript contains an unedited and unpublished collection of specific prescriptions to guide the daily conduct of a community of nuns at the Abbey of Sant’Andrea della Porta in Genoa. The book was copied specifically for this community by their confessor, Father Gregorio da Piacenza, and its handsome illuminated frontispiece may well have been designed and painted by the nuns themselves, with lace-like decorations alluding to one of the likely products made by these nuns at the time. As such, it is a fascinating and unusual source of information regarding the way this female community may have viewed themselves, as well as how they were expected to conduct their daily lives.
This collection includes letters in Hebrew, German, Yiddish, and Ladino relating to the Jewish community of Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, including nine drafts of letters from the Parnassim of Amsterdam (1765-1795), et al.
The RBML digitized the Sephardic (Ladino, Hebrew, German) letters, concurrent with the acquisition of a new set of letters (c. 500 documents in Yiddish) documenting another facet of the community (Ashkenazic).
The binding of this early printed book was detached and had been poorly restored in the past, but the book was in frequent demand for classroom teaching.
Columbia’s conservators recognized that the early 20th-century leather restoration of the book’s spine concealed the original 15th-century sewing because of a binding feature they knew was particular to southern Germany in this period. By X-raying the wooden boards of the bookbinding, they revealed details about the attachment of the covers that was also hidden by later restoration work, and these X-ray images were significant in guiding the work of the conservator to reattach the boards.
The treatment was carried out by NYU-IFA Conservation Center intern Abigail Slawik, who was completing her graduate education in conservation during a year-long internship under the direction of Columbia’s conservators.
David Wise (May 10, 1930-October 8, 2018) was a leading American journalist and expert on the history of American and Soviet espionage. Beginning in 1962, Wise authored a series of three major non-fiction books relating to the intelligence community, including, The U-2 Affair (1962), The Invisible Government (1964), and The Espionage Establishment (1967). These three books, relying on public domain research and unclassified source interviews (including former CIA director Allen W. Dulles), were the beginning of his career as "the best sourced, most knowledgeable author of books on espionage." The David Wise Papers consist of 137.5 linear feet of archival materials detailing the author’s research, correspondence, and interviews. As Wise's reputation grew as an internationally-respected author with impeccable integrity in the world of espionage and intelligence, his access to high-level source material evolved to unduplicatable levels. The archive contains a substantive degree of primary source interviews and correspondence, with a considerable amount never before published.
The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Schwartz grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He graduated from Hebrew Technical Institute in 1922 and then attended City College at night while working factory jobs as an engineer during the day. Schwartz joined the Photo League in 1938 and began taking street pictures of New York's immigrant neighborhoods. Schwartz's photographs of New York City street scenes combined elements of photojournalistic and artistic forms. His photographs of the protests against the 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are especially significant.
Written on parchment, and measuring nearly nine feet unrolled, this manuscript is an estate survey for the sale of a valuable parcel of land in the vicinity of the village of San Vito on the outskirts of Lodi. Most unusually, it was owned by a Jewish family under the protection of the Renaissance general Filippino Fieschi. We don’t know very much about the family that owned this land, other than their names: Chresino and Grassino, sons of Jacob, as well as Benedicto. Also mentioned in the document are Leo and his sisters Ventirie and Belle. The family is documented as having arrived from “Roine,” which is possibly Rhone in the south of France.The estates listed were evaluated as worth 1950 livres ‘valoris,’ a very high sum of money. In many places, Jews were not allowed to own land, much less an estate of this size, and so this manuscript has much potential for new findings on the history of the Jews in 15th-century Italy.
The Female Forme: A Suite of Prints Celebrating Jewish Women's Participation in the Development of Early Hebrew Printing
These prints riff on the "Woman of Valor" section from Proverbs to focus the "work of her hands," highlighting women involved in the Hebrew press from the 1480s to the 19th century.
Fly (née Elen Orr) is a comics artist, textile artist, "crust-punk" musician, feminist, squatter, illustrator, chronicler, teacher, and community activist. She has documented the Alphabet City/Loisaida neighborhood in comics, zines, photography, and more over the course of more than three decades. This collection of artwork, zines, sketchbooks, photographs, clothing, tapes, etc. document much more than just an artist's career; it documents the history of a movement and a neighborhood.
Thirty volumes (about 8,500 pages) of linguistic and anthropological notes were made about the Kwakwaka'wakw by George Hunt in Fort Rupert, British Columbia, between 1898 and 1931, at the request of and in collaboration with Franz Boas. The texts, which consist of a wide array of stories and cultural information, were written by Hunt in Kwakʼwala with interlinear English translations. Hunt would mail small batches to Boas, who then made extensive corrections and notations on the page.
This re-description and digitization project was inspired by requests from Kwak'wala language revitalization groups. The digitized images will not be published by the Libraries, but are available to community members. Library staff are now working with communities to determine access restrictions to the materials.
This document is a precisely-dated example of one of the rarest of medieval European scripts, used in the Iberian peninsula from the 8th to the 13th centuries. Examples of this script are extremely rare outside of Spanish institutional archives.
Interviews in this collection document the experiences of unhoused people and individuals working on the issues of homelessness and housing. All participants were involved in life skills empowerment programs, which are run by faith-based organizations and include elements of personal goal setting, storytelling, and service.
Joan Konner was an American academic and journalist who served as Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism for nine years. She was a reporter, editorial writer, and columnist for the Bergen Record (N.J.); a producer, reporter, host, and editor at WNET/Thirteen; a documentary and news producer, writer, director, and program director at NBC News; an executive producer for national public affairs programs; and executive producer of "Bill Moyers Journal.” This project digitized her extensive audiovisual materials.
The Josefina Báez Papers document Báez's career as a Dominican American writer, theater director, actor, dancer, and teacher in the United States and abroad. Dating back to the 1970s, this archive of writings and related documents provide an invaluable understanding of the significance of Báez's career as a writer and performer. The archive will enable researchers to comb through the different stages of her writing process, visual inspirations in her writing through her travels around the world, and her evolution as an actress and dancer.
This project involved digitization of about 130 manuscripts which were not otherwise accessible in any way and conversion of microfilm of manuscripts to digital images. All images have been loaded to the Internet Archive.
This book by Archangela Tarabotti (1604-1652) is a feminist manifesto by a woman who was forced into a convent as a girl. Circulated in manuscript during her life, the text was so controversial that it was printed only in 1654, after her death, and in Leiden, far from her hometown of Venice. Even so, the book was added to the Index of Prohibited Books in 1660.
A Columbia University graduate, former faculty member, dean, and provost, Michael I. Sovern was Columbia's first Jewish president. Sovern oversaw the admission of women to Columbia College for the first time in 1983 and successfully resolved the most explosive issue since the 1968 protests: South African divestment. The issue of South African divestment, which pitted the trustees against students and the community, was carefully negotiated by Sovern. In 1990, Sovern gained community approval for the development of property adjacent to the Health Sciences Campus, including Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated.
This project included 1,100 hours of audio and video oral history interviews with 470 administration officials, activists, organizers, and others whose lives were shaped by the administration.
The PEN/Faulkner Foundation Archive (ca. 1976-present) documents the origins, founding, development, and operations of an organization whose activities support writing, reading, and literature through public programs, education, and two literary awards for which the foundation is best known: the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. The foundation has from its inception been organized, administered, and supported by writers, with its awards judged by writers. The foundation’s first educational program, Writers in Schools (WinS), which started in 1989, sent writers to DC-area schools and provided students with copies of culturally diverse works for discussion with the books’ authors; the program is particularly well documented in the archive by teacher/student-created classroom portfolios and administrative materials.
This unrecorded Polish imprint from 1536 contains a poem by Polish diplomat and humanist Jerzy of Tyczyn (ca. 1510-1591) on a conflict in the region that is now Ukraine.
Tania León is highly regarded as a composer, conductor, educator, and advisor to arts organizations. She is credited with playing an important role in introducing Latin American music to American audiences, and her compositional style, with influences from gospel and jazz, has been described as “utterly distinctive.”
Voces Cubanas was the first large-scale oral history project authorized by the Cuban government since a similar study led by Oscar Lewis was closed in 1970. The project is an important addition to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Latino Arts and Activisms collections, specifically holdings related to the Latinx diaspora. The interviews document in-depth life histories of Cubanas across the island from 2004 through 2015. Narrators are from different generations and social positions, with diverse racial, gender, sexual, and religious identities and political views. Many narrators spoke with the research team multiple times over the years, which make the longitudinal aspects of this project incredibly valuable. Several narrators who relocated to Miami described the process of leaving Cuba, their adjustment to the United States, and their divided lives, split between Cuba and Miami. The Ford Foundation generously funded a summer internship to process this collection, enabling a doctoral candidate in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures to add archival processing to their skillset. Materials will be available in both English and Spanish.
Science, Engineering, and Social Sciences Libraries
The Science, Engineering, and Social Science Libraries (SESSL) upgraded its Nature journal subscription to the Nature All+ subscription. When new journals are published, SESSL will be automatically subscribed to new content.
SESSL began supporting two new Subscribe to Open (S2O) journals. S2O is a pragmatic approach for converting subscription journals to open access, which provides free and immediate online availability of research without reliance on either article processing charges (APCs) or altruism.
Columbia University Libraries and CUIT have collaborated to provide Overleaf Professional accounts to all active Columbia researchers, instructors, and students. Overleaf is a world-class LaTeX editor that is often used for collaborative writing, editing, and publishing scientific documents and papers. It provides users with precise control over producing documents that require highly-controlled typesetting, which is especially useful for extremely complex mathematics, tables, and technical content. Overleaf also facilitates footnotes, cross-referencing and bibliography management, as well as producing complicated indexes, glossaries, and tables of contents. All of this functionality is critical to be successful in publishing papers.
Wiley Digital Archives: Environmental Science and History focuses on critical aspects of anthropogenic change, with unique and rare archival collections from multiple global sources. The Libraries collections from the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew), National Archives (UK), the Commonwealth Forestry Institute, and CAB International, including Line Drawings of Fungi from the IMI Fungarium IMI Fungarium Accessions Books.