Columbia University Archives
 

Columbia College Alumni Association records, 1825-1960

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0046
Bib ID 5800546 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Columbia College (Columbia University). Alumni Association
Title Columbia College Alumni Association records, 1825-1960
Physical Description 17.5 linear feet (15 record cartons)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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.

There are no restrictions on this collection.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in two series: Series I: Correspondence and Series II: Subject Files.

Description

Summary

This collection contains the correspondence, minutes and subject files of the Columbia College Alumni Association.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1859-1948

    This series contains the correspondence files kept by the Alumni Association of Columbia College, mostly from the 1890s to the 1920s. There are collected letterbooks and letter files and are organized chronologically.

  • Series II: Subject Files, 1825-1960

    This series contains the bulk of the administrative records of the Alumni Association of Columbia College. There are governance records: charters, by-laws, constitutions, financial records, meeting minutes, membership lists, and annual reports. There are also committee files, mostly from the Standing Committee but also other subcommittees. The files document the AACC's many events (annual meeting, alumni day, dean's day, dinners, reunions, etc.) and awards. Files are organized alphabetically.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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.

There are no restrictions on this collection.

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); Columbia College Alumni Association records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Related Materials

Additional materials about the CCAA can be foud in the Historical subject files (UA#0002). Materials related to individual classes of alumni of Columbia College (e.g., Class of 1899) can be found in the Alumni Class records. Materials related to School of Arts/Columbia College can be found in the Columbia College records. Starting in 1954, the Columbia College Alumni Association publishes its own magazine, Columbia College Today and those issues are available online.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative. This collection was processed by Joanna Rios in January 2023.

Revision Description

2023-01-13 Finding aid published (JR)

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.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Columbia College (Columbia University) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- : Alumni and alumnae Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

The earliest known group of Columbia College alumni started meeting in 1815 under the name of the Literary Institution of Columbia College. This groups described itself as a "society of graduates of Columbia College established for the purpose of reading papers on literary and scientific subjects." They requested and received space to meet in the College from the Trustees in 1816. There are meeting minutes from 1815 to 1817.

Starting in 1825, the first true alumni association gathered at an "anniversary meeting" under the name of the Society of the Alumni of Columbia College. The first address at this soon-to-be-annual meeting was delivered by Clement Clarke Moore CC 1798 on the history of the College and the role of the alumni. The meeting was held at the College Chapel. The second address, in 1826, was delivered by William Bard. In the afternoon, "about ninety of the Alumni dinned in College Hall, and after spending the day in the most pleasing manner, adjourned in hopes that their next anniversary might be attended with equal intelligence, and animated with like good feeling." (CUQ June 1905, p. 286) The constitution of the Association of the Alumni of Columbia College (AACC) was enacted on April 30, 1831.

The AACC continued to meet until at least 1844, but then there are no records of much alumni activity for the next ten years. The alumni reunited to celebrate the centennial of the original King's College Charter on October 31, 1854 and continued to hold their annual meetings on that day. A new constitution was enacted in 1856. In 1860 the Association started compiling information of Columbia graduates, which was published as the 1865 Alumni Register. A new charter and constitution was ratified in 1876.

In addition to the Annual Meeting and Dinner for returning alumni, the AACC supported the College's library with various purchases: the library of George Strong CC 1838 (1877) and that of Henry Anderson CC 1818, P&S 1824 (1879). They also supported the athletic affairs of the College by funding the Harlem River Boathouse (1876), the Henley regatta celebration (1877), and the purchase of the Williamsbridge Athletic Field (1890).

The alumni were raising funds for a new athletic field in the 1890s, when the College finally prepared to move from their cramped 49th Street and Madison Avenue campus. The fundraising efforts were refocused on purchase of the Morningside Heights site and, eventually, the Alumni Memorial Hall. The Hall campaign was not too successful. What became known as University Hall was never completed. Only two floors from the original design were ever built. Those foundations were later used for the construction of Uris Hall.

In addition to the annual meeting and dinner, in 1908, the AACC started to hold an Alumni Day or the mid-winter reunion. The event was held every year on Lincoln's birthday (February 12) because it was the "only business holiday in the year when alumni can visit their Alma Mater." Alumni would come back to campus and could join classes. This event was held until 1948 when Dean's Day took over.

In 1947, Dean Harry J. Carman invited "old grads" to campus and compare it with "what they were given five, ten, twenty or forty years ago." Alumni took part in discussions, forums and panels and the ladies were invited to accompany their husband to the Dean's reception at the end of the day. This was held in the late spring (end of March to early April). This was originally a Columbia College tradition, but other schools (P&S, Law, Engineering starting in 1949; School of Business, in 1957; General Studies, in 1958) eventually also held their own Dean's Days.

The Columbia College alumni recognize distinguished Columbians with the Alexander Hamilton Medal and the John Jay Awards. A prominent Columbia College graduate is also selected annually to serve as the Class Day Speaker.

The AACC was the alumni association of Columbia College, the undergraduate school, formerly known as the School of Arts. Other Columbia schools had their own associations, which came together under the Alumni Council (1895) and the Alumni Federation (1913). The now-named Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) still serves the College's alumni and partners with the University-wide Columbia Alumni Association.