The following is only a selection of websites and documents available online which can help you learn about the history of the University. You can find the original paper copies and additional resources by searching in the library's online catalog CLIO.
Charters and Minutes
- Charters, acts and official documents together with the lease and re-lease by Trinity church of a portion of the King's farm. Compiled by John B. Pine, Clerk of the Trustees. New York: Printed for the College, June 1895.
- Charters, acts of the legislature, official documents and records. Revised and enlarged edition. Compiled by John B. Pine, Clerk of the Trustrees, Attorney for the University. New York: Printed for the University, 1920. (Only Volume 1 is available online; you can request Volume 2 (1933) and Volume 3 (1952) from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.)
- Original charter of Columbia College, in the city of New-York, October 31st, 1754; with the acts of the Legislature, altering and amending the same.
- Columbia University in the City of New York Charters and statutes: with amendments to June 5, 1911. New York: Printed for the University, 1911.
- Columbia University in the City of New York Charters and statutes: with amendments to April 3, 1916. New York: Printed for the University, 1916.
- Columbia University in the City of New York Charters and statutes: with amendments to December 5, 1921. New York: Printed for the University, 1922.
- Minutes of the Governors of the College of the Province of New York in the City of New York in America 1755-1768 and of the Corporation of King’s College in the City of New York 1768-1770. New York, 1932.
- Minutes of the Board of Trustees
The University Archives maintains copies of all of the Minutes of the Board of Trustees from 1754 to the present. These are a particularly useful tool for tracing the history of a department, a specific school's development, or university governance. The Minutes provide official information about numerous topics in the history of Columbia including university governance (e.g., changes to the University statutes), teaching appointments, awards of honorary degrees and certain prizes, endowments, donations of money and materials, real estate purchases, appointments to the Board of Trustees and its various committees, and construction projects. The minutes also often comment (both directly and indirectly) on major national events (e.g. Abraham Lincoln's assassination) and include resolutions of appreciation for significant individuals, usually associated with the Board. Minutes created since 2005-2006 are in electronic format only. Due to the nature of these records, Trustee Minutes are closed for 50 years after their creation.
- Gifts and bequests: land, buildings and equipment, 1754-1928 (1929). Compiled in the office of the Treasurer.
Statutes, revised and passed by the Board of Trustees for the following years:
- Resolutions passed by the Trustees of Columbia College from 1820 to 1868. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1868.
- Resolutions passed by the Trustees of Columbia College from 1868 to 1874. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1874.
- Resolutions passed by the Trustees of Columbia College from 1874 to 1879. New York: Printed for the College, 1879.
- Resolutions adopted by the Trustees of Columbia College, October 3, 1898, to June 1, 1903; arranged and printed under resolution adopted December 7, 1885; amended March 2, 1891. New York: Printed for the Trustees, 1903.
The Annual Reports of the President to the Trustees offer a yearly "state of the University" from 1865 to 1948. The tradition of a printed "Annual report of the President of Columbia College made to the Board of Trustees" started with University President Frederick A.P. Barnard. The reports include current events, facts and figures of students enrolled and degrees conferred, and as well as trends in each school. In addition to the President's remarks, the later reports include the Treasurer's financial reports and also each Dean reports to the President on the previous academic year at their school or division (Columbia College, Law, Business, Journalism, Barnard, Teachers College, etc.) as well as reports from the Librarian, the Registrar, the Secretary and other senior administrators. You can find access to the paper copies and links to the online reports from 1865-1948 in the President's Annual Reports finding aid.
Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Columbia College, also known as the Handbook of Information and sometimes, the Catalogue and General Announcement, is essentially a "snapshot" of the University in a given year. These publications usually include the list of trustees, officers of instruction, and administrators. They also contain information about the curriculum in the various programs, detail admission policies and requirements, explain degree and certificate programs, note tuition fees, list prizes and scholarships, provide a copy of the academic calendar, and describe general regulations of the university. In the handbooks from the 19th century you can often find lists of students and sometimes alumni. From 1893-94 to 1918-19 one can find regularized registers of students listed for each school. In addition to the register of students, the Catalogue also includes a list of the degrees conferred at the last commencement. For each year starting in 1893-94, the staff and student directories can found at the back of each volume. Full names of students appear beginning in the 1919-20 volume. Between 1893-94 and 1918-19 the student directories only list the first initial and the full last name since full name information is found in the school specific student registers. Paper copies are available at the University Archives.
- Handbook 1878
- Register 1878-1879
- Handbook 1879
- Register 1879-1880
- Handbook 1880
- Register 1880-1881
- Handbook 1881
- Register 1881-1882
- Handbook 1882
- Register 1882-1883
- Handbook 1883
- Register 1883-1884
- Handbook 1884
- Register 1884-1885
- Handbook 1885
- Register 1885-1886
- Handbook 1886-1887
- Register 1886-1887
- Handbook 1887-1888
- Register 1887-1888
- Handbook 1888-1889
- Register 1888-1889
- Handbook 1889-1890
- Register 1889-1890
- Handbook 1890-1891
* Between 1878 and 1890, Columbia published two separate volumes: one was a Handbook of Information as to the Course of Instruction (course catalogue) and the other was an Annual Register (trustee, faculty and student directory). The volumes were merged again for 1891-1892 Hanbook of information, which included the Register of Students for 1890-1891.