Rare Book & Manuscript Library Hosts Exhibition, Columbia’s Cornerstone: The Core Curriculum


NEW YORK, February 11, 2004 As part of Columbia University’s celebration of its 250th anniversary, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is hosting an exhibition, Columbia’s Cornerstone: The Core Curriculum, highlighting significant books, manuscripts, and objects related to Columbia’s core curriculum. The exhibition is on view in the Kempner Gallery of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, on the sixth floor of Butler Library, through Friday, March 5, 2004.

The exhibition charts the development of the core, taught to all undergraduates at the university, from its inception in 1919 to the present, and showcases a selection of remarkable materials held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in the areas of literature, philosophy, history, music, art, science, and the social sciences.

“The exhibition provides an interesting exposure to the arguments and debates that led to the establishment of the core,” said Jean Ashton, Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. “It also displays original print and first editions of texts used by Columbia students for several generations.” Among the many items featured are a papyrus fragment of Homer dating from the first century B.C.E., a manuscript portion of the Quran written and illuminated in 1259, William Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623), Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) and a lock of his hair, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Ludwig van Beethoven’s notes on the Kyrie fugue of Mozart’s Requiem, Frank Lloyd Wright’s essay “The Art and Craft of the Machine” (1901), and a letter of agreement signed in 1963 by Malcolm X and Alex Haley for the Autobiography of Malcolm X; as well as letters, memorandums, and committee notes about Columbia’s establishment of the core curriculum.

The Core Curriculum exhibition is open to the public during the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s regular hours: Monday, 12:00 P.M. to 7:45 P.M., and Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 4:45 P.M.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library owns over 600,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 26 million manuscripts in nearly 2,600 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children's literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. The Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/rbml/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services. For additional information about the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, please call 212-854-5153.

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