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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
Arranged in four series.
Twelve reel of 16mm film and two cans of edited out footage, as well as article, clippings, letters, photographs, ephemera, and a thesis.
The films have been digitized by the Preservation Reformatting Department of the Columbia University Libraries
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This original film is archival only and cannot be used.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); The Gay Humphrey Matthaei Collection of Photographs, Films and Clippings.; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers Processed 8/21/2015 by PTL and Robert Davis
2015-08-19 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
In August 1954, four graduate students from Columbia's Russian Institute--Gay Humphrey, Ted Curran, Jeri Lidsky, and Francis B. Randall--set off on an eight-week journey across the Soviet Union. They became, effectively, the first student tourist group to visit the USSR, just seventeen months after the death of Stalin and before Khrushchev had consolidated power. Although photography was carefully controlled in the USSR, they were allowed more or less free access to all save military and other secure installations.
Equipped with camera and film provided by CBS (and according to her obituary, by NBC as well), and Kodachrome provided by Time Magazine (the undeveloped film was, alas, ultimately confiscated from Ms. Lidsky at the border) their observations and footage created a sensation back in the U.S.
Following their return, the students became celebrities, with Ms. Humphrey appearing with Eric Sevareid on CBS's "The American Week" and articles in the New York Times, Ladies' Home Journal, and other publications. Ms. Humphrey and Mr. Curran went on the lecture circuit, with well-received presentations at many universities throughout the country.
All four participants went on to distinguished careers. Mr. Randall became a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence, while Mr. Curran embarked on a foreign service career. Ms. Lidsky's married name was Laber, and she became one of the founders of the human rights group Helsinki Watch. Columbia holds Ms. Laber's papers as a series within the Helsinki Watch records. Accounts of their trip appear in Ms. Laber's memoir "The Courage of Strangers" (2002, see pp. 35-45 available in-ebook form: http://site.ebrary.com/lib/columbia/detail.action?docID=10477865), and in an oral history interview by Mr. Curran. Mr. Randall published an article in the Amherst Alumni News in 1955 (a copy of which is found in Box 1, Folder 2, and it is referenced in a later note from the News.
Ms. Humphrey married Konrad Henry Matthaei, in 1956. She went on to write prize-winning books about the Lakota Sioux, and produced and directed a film "Where Time is a River" that was selected for inclusion in the MoMA Archive of Films.
The Matthaei Family was the subject of an extensive photo shoot by Diane Arbus, subsequently donated to Mount Holyoke, Gay's alma mater.
Gay Humphrey Matthaei died in 2010. This collection is a gift from her daughter, Marcella Hague Matthaei.