Archives of Human Rights First to Come to Columbia University Libraries

NEW YORK, April 18, 2008 On February 20th, 2008, a formal agreement was signed by James Neal, Columbia's Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, and Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First, under which the archives of HRF are to be deposited at Columbia University Libraries’ Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research (CHRDR). The Center will act as the depository institution for these archives, consisting of a comprehensive collection of documents representing 30 years of the organization’s founding, activity, and growth.

The Human Rights First archive now joins the extensive organizational archives of other key human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, and Committee of Concerned Scientists, which are housed at Columbia Libraries' CHRDR, in its role as the leading international documentation center for the global human rights movement.

“In selecting Columbia University and its Libraries to administer the archive, Human Rights First acknowledges the scope and strength of Columbia University’s existing human rights programs, many of which will draw on these new resources for teaching and research,” said David Magier, Director of the Center. “We are proud to be able to preserve the HRF archives here along with the other human rights collections, and to make them broadly accessible in an integrated way to scholars, researchers, students and human rights advocates.”

Since its founding in 1978, Human Rights First (originally known as Lawyers’ Committee for International Human Rights) worked in the U.S. and abroad to create a secure and humane world –advancing justice, human dignity, and respect for the rule of law. The organization has supported and partnered with frontline rights activists around the world – in places like Guatemala, Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Indonesia. It is a leading advocate for the rights of refugees seeking asylum in the U.S.

The Archive offers a unique, comprehensive view of human rights conditions in more than 70 nations around the world during the last three decades, and provides a complete picture of the investigative, public education, and lobbying activities of this world-renowned organization. It includes administrative files, public relations documents, as well as case and country files.

“We believe Columbia University has a profound commitment to supporting teaching and the research of human rights, and a track record of devoting serious resources to preserving organizational archives and making them accessible,” said Michael Posner, President of Human Rights First. “Columbia is going to be an outstanding home for the Human Rights First archive.”

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.

The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research (CHRDR) at Columbia University Libraries supports the community of teachers, researchers, and law and social justice advocates working in the multidisciplinary sphere of Human Rights. The Center develops global collections – primary and secondary resources, as well as archival collections and internal records from human rights organizations – and enhances the visibility and accessibility of these collections through high-profile programs, collaborative projects and library services. The CHRDR's website at is the central access point for its activities, archives, and research resources.

04/18/08 LMK