Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Grayson Kirk papers, 1938-1984

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0716
Bib ID 4078452 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Kirk, Grayson L. (Grayson Louis), 1903-1997 ; Eisenhower, Mamie Doud, 1896-1979 ; Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 1928-2017
Title Grayson Kirk papers, 1938-1984
Physical Description 12.67 Linear Feet (7 document boxes and 8 record cartons)
Language(s) English .

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 collection has no restrictions.



Collection is arranged in eight series.


Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, drafts, committee meeting reports, speeches, calendars, etc. of Grayson L. Kirk, former Columbia University President. Also included are books from his library. There are also materials deemed by the Office of the President staff as "personal," meaning not directly related to Columbia University. These included the records of the Jacob R. Schiff Charitable Trust and the New York World's Fair 1964-1965.

  • Series I: Topical Office Files, 1958-1984

    This series includes files relating to a number of campus projects and issues with which Kirk was involved. Most of the folders are topical, but there are alphabetical correspondence files that include correspondence not directly related to one of the topics with its own folder.

  • Series II: Retirement Correspondence, 1968

    This series is primarily composed of letters received by Kirk on the occassion of his retirement from active duty at Columbia and his being named President Emeritus of the University. Many of the letters include carbon copies of Kirk's replies.

  • Series III: Books from Kirk's Library

    This series contains books from Kirk's library which have been inscribed and signed by Columbia authors including Jacques Barzun, Lloyd Motz and James T. Shotwell.

  • Series IV: Speeches, remarks and memoranda, 1949-1968

    This series contains copies of Kirk's speeches, remarks and University memoranda. The 1950s folders may include annotated drafts. The 1960s speeches (or partial remarks) are found as quoted in University press releases. There is also a list of speeches and a calendar of speeches (by school year and by month). Materials are organized chronologically.

  • Series V: Drafts, 1959-1968

    This series contains drafts of Kirk's letters, statements, remarks, addresses, etc. Most are handwritten on yellow legal pads. Some include the annotated typescript drafts. For each set, there is an index which includes the document's date, addressee, and subject.

  • Series VI: Jacob R. Schiff Charitable Trust, 1938-1975

    The series contains the records of the Fund Committee of the Jacob R. Schiff Charitable Trust. Files are organized alphabetically but are incomplete (A-National only). As Columbia University President, Kirk served on the Fund Committee with the Presidents of City College and the Jewish Publication Society of America.

  • Series VII: 1964-1965 New York World's Fair , 1961-1964

    This series contains materials related to the New York World's Fair 1964-1965: meeting minutes, press releases, promotional brochures, newsletters, invitations, newspaper clippings, etc. There are groundbreaking programs or booklets for many of the pavilions. Materials are organized chronologically. Kirk served on the Board of Directors.

  • Series VIII: Calendars, 1950-1965

    This series contains Kirk's desk calendars and those of his Administrative Assistants, Adrienne Swift (1950-1957) and Helen S. King (1958-1965). There is no calendar for "Dr. Kirk" for 1958, although there is one for "Mrs. King." This series also includes an annotated University directory and a personal telephone book.

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 collection has no restrictions.

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.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Grayson Kirk papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Related Materials

For the official records from Kirk's tenure as University President, please consult Central Files (UA#0001). Additional materials can be found in Historical Biographical Files (UA#0004) and Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs records (UA#0083).


No additions are expected.

Ownership and Custodial History

Transfer from Secretary of University, 1986.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Office of the Secretary. Method of acquisition--Transfer; Date of acquisition--10/--/86. Accession number--M-86-10.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed 10/27/88 HH

Addition (series II) integrated into collection 06/03/2011 by Carrie Hintz

Boxes 8-15 were added to the collection in February 2020. These materials were formerly part of the Records of the Office of the President Grayson L. Kirk, 1946-1968 (UA#0066).

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2011-06-03 Integrated an addition to the collection (Series II)

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

2020-02-25 Added the collection formerly known as the Records of the Office of the President Grayson L. Kirk, (UA#0066)

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Columbia University -- Administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Office of the President Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York World's Fair (1964-1965 : New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical sketch

A Columbia University professor and provost, Grayson Kirk was appointed University President following Dwight D. Eisenhower's departure for the White House and officially installed on June 2, 1953.

Kirk's presidency was marked by City and State approval for the building of a gym in Morningside Park (1960), the active recruitment of black applicants at both Columbia College and Barnard College (1964), the founding of the School of Arts (1965) and the emergence of several student groups including the Students' Afro-American Society chapter (1964), Students for a Democratic Society (1965), and the Student Homophile League (1966).

Despite these accomplishments, Kirk's tenure as president was rife with conflict. Opposition to the war in Vietnam and dissatisfaction with Columbia's relationship to the Harlem community reached a head in April 1968. Students occupied five campus buildings in protest to the alleged racism inherent in the plans for the Morningside Gymnasium, Columbia's involvement with the Institute for Defense Analysis, military recruitment on campus, and bans on indoor demonstrations. Kirk was accused of mishandling the situation on campus (especially by calling in the NYC police to "bust" the occupied buildings) leading to calls for his resignation to which he finally complied in August 1968.

After leaving Columbia Kirk held positions on the Council of Foreign Relations and the Association of American Universities.