|Columbia University Archives|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged into one series: Series I. Biographical records, 1926-1927.
This collection consists of the replies to the 1926 Biographical and Professional Record questionnaire. In addition to the completed 8-page survey forms, many respondents included typed or handwritten accounts of their work history. On the front page of questionnaire, the office staff noted the date the response was received (from April 1926 to September 1927). The degree(s) and class year(s) of the student/respondent are entered on the top right corner (from members of the Class of 1869 to 1927). The forms are organized alphabetically by the last name of the former engineering student and are then bound into 9 volumes.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located on-site.
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); School of Engineering Biographical records; Volume; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
The completed surveys were compiled into the Schools of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry, Columbia University : alumni catalogue (1928) (Call number CU C7243) also available at the University Archives.
No additions are expected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed JMR March 2018.
2018-03-28 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
In 1926 the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education led a study of engineering education, financed by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. The Society felt changes were under way in the practice of engineering that needed to be addressed in the education of future engineers. At Columbia a Faculty Committee was appointed to operate in this study and decided to focus on the School's engineering alumni, their work and needs. The Engineering School's Alumni Association was also interested in securing the data for a new edition of the Alumni List and Professional Record (last issued in 1912). And the same data would also be of value to the University Committee on General Catalogue for compiling the next alumni register. These three committees combined forces to finance a comprehensive questionnaire addressed to the engineering alumni. The questionnaire was mailed to all graduates and former students of the engineering schools: School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry.
The questionnaire asked for biographical information and a professional record. The biographical section asked about education (high school, college and professional courses and degrees) and their college record (athletics, publications, societies, class offices). It also included fields for publications, memberships in engineering or other societies connected with business, membership in clubs or social organizations, and even a record of activities in relation to government and public life.
For the professional record, the questionnaire was comprehensive, including such questions as when the student decided to pursue engineering, how they obtained their first position after graduation, did they maintain an interest in "liberal" study, whether or not they have found it necessary to study after graduation, how satisfied they are with their current position and/or prospects. It also asked for constructive criticism and judgment of the curricula and requirements. Respondents were asked to complete a work history to their current position, including years, character of work, field of work, organization and notable achievements for each entry.
About 3,500 questionnaires were sent to graduate and former students and yielded 1,203 replies. According to the preliminary findings reported by Dean George B. Pegram to the Trustees in the 1927 Annual Report, 94% of the former students liked engineering work, 6% disliked it. Only 6% were sorry they studied engineering and 65% were in favor of liberal arts college work before entering the engineering school. There were strong opinions that there should be more emphasis in the curriculum on business and economics. The Columbia results, reported Pegram, were in line with those at other schools in the study by the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education. The alumni catalogue was published by the Alumni Federation of Columbia University, cooperating with the Alumni Association of the Schools of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry, and the Committee on General Catalogue in 1928.