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 Collections, request 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.
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.
Columbia University History Online Resources
Archival Search Tools
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.
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.
Charter and Keys: Inauguration Ceremonies at Columbia
Chang Octagon and Display Cubes, RBML
October 2 to December 15, 2023
Since 1849 Columbia has held separate, formal ceremonies to officially install new university presidents. Pulling on materials found in the University Archives collections, this exhibition highlights the original 1754 Charter, ceremonial keys that signal the transfer of power, the various locations used, and the commemorative events created to mark these major transitions in University’s administration.
Records Management for Student Organizations
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.