Columbia University Archives

University Archives at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Reading Room Access: The RBML reading room is open Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm by advance appointment only to external visitors and current Columbia students, faculty and staff whose individual research requires consulting RBML materials.

Reading room seats are limited and appointment slots are frequently filled a month in advance. Bookings are are first-come, first served and we cannot guarantee the availability of preferred dates/times. For more information on booking an appointment, visit our Appointment FAQ page.

See the Plan Your Visit Page for additional instructions on planning your visit. We invite all users to access our Digital Collectionsrequest reproductions, or contact us for alternatives to in-person visits.

Order Reproductions: Limited reproductions of materials may be requested. See our Orders & Services page for details.

Columbia University History Online Resources

Archival Search Tools

  • CLIO
    The Columbia University Libraries online catalogue is a primary tool for locating archival materials.
  • Archival Collections Portal
    This portal provides access to records of archival collections at Columbia University Libraries, including finding aids, collection descriptions and available digital content, such as online exhibits and images.
  • Empire Archival Discovery Cooperative
    This cooperative pulls on archival records from repositories across New York State. Here you can search the collections available at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, including the Columbia University Archives holdings. This tool is particularly helpful since it searches not just the front matter in our finding aids but also the collection inventories or folder lists.
  • Oral History Portal
    Use this portal to explore the collections of the Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOH) Archives at RBML.

Documenting COVID-19

The University Archives is collecting materials to document the coronavirus pandemic. We are looking to hear from a diverse set of voices about your lived experience and to learn about your new everyday lives. Historians of the future will want to know how we spent our days during these tumultuous times. We invite you to be an active participant in documenting our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit our Documenting COVID-19 information page to find out how you can contribute and participate.

Research Guides

Link to the University Archives Research Guides.

The Columbia University Archives staff has put together some Research Guides to help you take advantage of our holdings. For each type of search, you will find the most popular resources available and how to access them: some online and some in person. The guides focus on alumni, faculty, course descriptions, Master's essays and dissertations, and buildings and grounds information.

Current Exhibition

King's College Diplomas

King's College Diplomas 1763-1773
RBML Chang Octagon
Summer 2024

This small exhibition features reproductions of diplomas awarded from 1763 to 1773 by King’s College, as Columbia was known from 1754 to 1784. It also includes related documents: a handwritten draft for an honorary degree, a program from the 1771 Commencement, and even the lists of names sent to the engrosser or copyist to create the year’s diplomas.

Records Management for Student Organizations

The Come Back Club, a campus organization of disabled ex-service men studying under the auspices of the United States Veterans' Bureau, 1922

The University Archives put together a Records Management for Student Organizations guide on how to manage the group's records and publications, what to keep and to discard, and how to donate materials to the University Archives. Learn some best practices for storing, organizing and making records accessible.



Have you ever wondered how that platform on College Walk is (or was) a sundial? Well, the Sundial is missing its "dial" or a 7-foot granite sunball that used to tell time. To learn more about the Sundial, Columbia history and the University Archives holdings, catch up with (and subscribe to) RBML News.