MacArthur Foundation Supports Columbia Libraries’ New Human Rights Center

NEW YORK, May 5, 2005 - Columbia University Libraries has received a grant of $100,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support the creation of the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research.

The new center will preserve and provide access to an expansive array of primary documents that will enable people to better understand human rights issues. The center’s archival resources will provide the basis for scholars from many disciplines to examine the rise of the human rights movement in the 20th century, assess its impact and legacy, and explore particular human rights struggles.

“We are extremely pleased that MacArthur is supporting our human rights efforts,” said James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian. “This investment will enable us to proceed with the implementation of our educational and scholarly efforts in the human rights area through the Libraries.”

As a resource for research, education, and training, the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research will serve human rights advocates and activists, students and scholars.

The creation of the center, which will be managed by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, comes after Columbia University Libraries was selected in 2004 to administer the Human Rights Watch Archive, the largest U.S.-based human rights organization. The Center will serve as a magnet for other major human rights organization archives.

Columbia has had a broad and long-standing commitment to human rights, through the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the Law School, the Center for the Study of Human Rights, and the Center for International Conflict Resolution. Since the establishment of the first human rights institution on campus more than 25 years ago, there are now five centers, seven academic programs, six nonacademic programs, and more than 50 faculty members with close ties to human rights research and advocacy. The new center will strengthen the University’s commitment in the area of human rights, and will serve the many faculty, researchers, students, and activists associated with Columbia’s human rights programs, and interested individuals throughout the world

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 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. For additional information about the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, please call 212-854-5153.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

05/05/05 JD