Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Columbia University Manuscripts Collection, 1655-1912

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: X973\C72
Bib ID 4078642 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Columbia University
Title Columbia University Manuscripts Collection, 1655-1912
Physical Description 4.59 Linear Feet (11 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located onsite.

This collection has no restrictions.






Autograph letters, official and private documents, and accounts, which were previously mounted in eleven volumes. Most of these relate to Columbia University or people associated with the University.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is located onsite.

This collection has no restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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); Columbia University Manuscripts; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Related Materials

For additional manuscript materials related to the early days of Columbia University, please consult the Columbia College Papers (UA#0224) and the Columbiana Manuscripts (UA#0166).


No additions are expected.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Description copied from physical folders, 2019.

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:"
Autographs (manuscripts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Financial records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Barnard, Frederick A. P (Frederick Augustus Porter), 1809-1889 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia College (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
King's College (New York, N.Y.) -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

According to the collection record, the Columbia University Manuscripts were acquired in February 1920. There is a reference to these documents in the Acting Librarian William H. Carpenter's Annual Report to the President in 1920:"A miscellaneous collection of old letters whose writers had been connected with Columbia were taken from various places in the Library and bound in three volumes. Material and manuscripts, from the office of the Secretary of the University, was bound in three volumes."

In the Columbia University Library office files (Series II, Box 2, Carpenter), a June 1923 letter mentions the "five or six volumes of autograph letters in more or less scrapbook form … none of which were of course indexed anywhere." A few weeks later, Assistant Librarian Roger Howson replies to Carpenter that "Miss [Adelaide] Rudolph is working over the autograph letters and has found some most interesting ones" (Series II, Box 2, Carpenter). Harriet Prescott, head of the cataloging department, gives an update on the indexing project as part of the cataloging department's 1923 annual report to Acting Librarian Carpenter (Series II, Box 13B). According to Prescott, Rudolph had been working on the "four folio volumes containing the manuscripts noticed briefly in the main catalog as 'Collection of autograph letters, office and private, accounts, many relating to New York state, ships' papers, documents relating to military affairs, etc., in the possession of Columbia University Library, covering the years 1674 to 1895.'" She then quotes from Rudolph's account of what the volumes contain. When William Harris was the College's President in 1829, the Trustees "gave a dinner to which were invited all of the notable men then residing or visiting in New York City; and if one desires a delightful pastime for a summer's day, let him read through the whole list of notes of acceptance or regret, written in reply to the invitation to this grand affair." According to Rudolph, former Columbia College President FAP Barnard's correspondence made up the bulk of the second, third and fourth volumes. Finally, she noted, the collection includes "letters from anxious parents in regard to the misbehavior of their sons and what can or ought to be done about it."

In the following year's report, Carpenter states that "[s]ix folio volumes containing documents and letters from the Colonial, Revolutionary and early 19th century period of our history, indexed during the year" have been available for researchers. By then, the indexed manuscript collection had grown by a couple of folio volumes. In the 1926 Annual Report, Miss Rudolph is mentioned by name as Assistant Librarian Howson reports that she "has continued her careful work on indexing old manuscript letters and documents."

Based on the collection record, the collection was removed from the folio volumes and refilled into folders and manuscript boxes in 1955. After the initial volumes, additional sets of correspondence files related to Columbia were also added to this collection. There is an alphabetized sequence organized by the letter writer's last name starting in box 6 (Addams) which ends in box 10 (Wolsely) and box 11 is also alphabetized.