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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 7 series. Series I: Academics, 1864-1963; Series II: Alumni, 1877-1964; Series III: Anniversaries, 1913-1965; Series IV: Buildings and Grounds, 1881-1961; Series V: Events, 1874-1962; Series VI: History, 1863-1952; Series VII: Press, 1865-1985; Series VIII: School of Mines Quarterly, 1895-1916.
The School of Mines Records describe the founding, growth, and evolution of the School. The materials contained in this collection show the expansion of the School's faculty, student and alumni bodies, and physical plant plus its shift in academic focus from mines and metallurgy to engineering and applied sciences. Also covered are the development of the undergraduate and graduate programs of study and the celebrations and documentation of the School's progress and history.
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 Mines records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material--At Columbia
Buildings and Grounds Collection, 1755-2007 [Bulk Dates: 1880-2000], Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Central Files Records, 1890-1971, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Charles Frederick Chandler Papers 1847-1937, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Thomas Egleston Papers 1857-1929, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Henry Smith Munroe Correspondence 1855-1899, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Historical Photograph Collection, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Lewis Morris Rutherfurd Photographs 1864-1865, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
William Campbell Papers [ca. 1900]-1925, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Periodic additions are expected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Brandi Tambasco, Queens College 2010 4/--/2010.
Finding aid written Brandi Tambasco, Queens College 2010 4/--/2010.
2010-04-29 XML Document Instance created by Brandi Tambasco.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Based on the plan submitted by Thomas Egleston, Jr., to the Trustees of Columbia College in 1863, the School of Mines was founded in 1864 at the 49th Street location of the College. With only three professors in the School, supplemented by adjunct professors from the College, the School of Mines opened November 15, 1864, offering a three-year plan of study to its 24 entering students. The "Big Three" founding professors of the School were Egleston, as professor of Mineralogy and Metallurgy; Francis Laurens Vinton, professor of Mining; and Charles Frederick Chandler, profess of Analytical Chemistry and the first Dean of the School. The School found an early and lasting supporter in Columbia College President Frederick A. P. Barnard, as well as support and sponsorship from the Committee on the School of Mines, a "sub-board" of the College Trustees, responsible for overseeing the development of the new School.
In its first 35 years of existence, the School flourished as a pioneering, largely undergraduate program. During this period, the program and faculty grew. In 1868, the program of study was extended to four years. In its first decade, the School granted its first degrees of Engineer of Mines (1867), civil engineering and Ph. B. (Bachelor's of Philosophy) in chemistry (1871). The Faculty for the School of Mines, separate from the College's faculty, was created in 1865 by statute and two years later the Trustees of the College adopted a definite set of bylaws for the new Faculty. Known as Camp Columbia, a summer school for practical courses, such as surveying, began in the late 1870s and continued at various sites within easy commuting distance from New York City over the years until it finally settled at its permanent site in Litchfield, CT in 1903.
In 1871 the Alumni Association for the School of Mines was organized, responsible for alumni gatherings, reunions, and anniversaries of the School. Beyond its social functions, the Association also performed intellectual functions, including recommendations on the School's administration and instruction, most notably with its Committee of Ten in the early 1880s. The Alumni Association's chief organ, the School of Mines Quarterly, began by the undergraduate members of the School's student engineering and chemical societies in 1879 and taken over by the Association by the journal's sixth issue, was published for thirty-five years, providing both news on the School and scholarly articles by the School's students, alumni, and faculty. In 1875, the School of Mines sponsored Columbia's first Ph.D. degree.
By 1871, the School's rapid growth became the main reason in the Trustees' decision to search for a new site for the College. The School's growing pains continued through the 1880s, during which time the School's physical plant was rebuilt in 1882-1883 to accommodate its expansion. Also during this decade, the School faced the problem of adjusting its program of study to the changing needs of an ever-developing profession. So in 1881 the admission requirements of the School of Mines were again raised and, in an effort to control its increasing enrollment within the constraints of its available physical and intellectual resources, the School no longer accepted non-degree candidates. In 1891, the trend in higher education to establish departments of faculty came to the School of Mines with the creation of the Department of Mining in the same year. By the end of its first 35 years, the School of Mines offered seven course degrees, authorized in different years: Mining (E.M., 1864), Chemistry (Ph.B. to 1896, then B.S.; 1868), Civil Engineering (C.E., 1869), Architecture (Ph.B., 1881), Metallurgy (Met.E., 1886), Electrical Engineering (E.E., 1889), and Geology and Paleontology (Ph.B., 1897).
In 1896 the School of Mines was renamed the School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry, a recognition long coming of the branches of engineering and science beyond the original mines concept. The Faculty of the School of Mines at the same time became the Faculty of Applied Science. These developments, though opposed by most of the faculty devoted to the primacy of the School's original mining emphasis and its traditions, addressed the rising importance of engineering in society. The same year the School recognized its broadening scope of study with an official name change, so too did Columbia College recognize the importance of graduate research and study to its mission, becoming Columbia University in the City of New York. These important changes to the School and College were followed a year later by another significant step in both institution's evolution: the University's move to Morningside Heights.
With the move of the University to the new Morningside campus, the School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry was able to expand and adjust to meet the growing demands of its faculty, students, and the engineering profession in general as well as realign the duties and modify the curricula of different departments at the turn of the century. In the period leading up to the first World War, from 1897 to 1914, the engineers constituted the largest undergraduate group at Morningside. In 1904, the same year the cornerstone of the new Engineering Building was laid, the Committee on the Programs of Study in Engineering recommended a new structure for the School's program, a combination six-year plan of study. In 1912 the plan was finally approved by the Trustees of Columbia University, the Faculty of Applied Science, and the School's Alumni Association, with new curricula developed from 1912 to 1913 with increased levels and standards of instruction. In 1914 the former, narrowly-technical program was replaced by the implementation of the new course and program structure, which made a general, liberal arts education a prerequisite for admission to the School. The new 6-year plan coincided with the School's first anniversary celebrations, commemorating its 50 years with special events for alumni, faculty, and students. In 1916, the School awarded its first Master's of Science (M.S.) degree, beginning a trend, realized throughout the country, toward graduate engineering study. Exploration of this new trend and the general operation of the School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry was interrupted by the United States' involvement in World War I.
By 1917 retirements and war duties decimated the School's Faculty. War efforts brought military training to Columbia University and the School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry undertook technical instruction for armed forces officers during the war. The post-war era saw a reorganization of the School and, as a direct result of lessons learned from the war, the development of the trend towards research which began in 1916. From 1917 to 1939 this new emphasis led to the transformation of the School from a pioneering, largely undergraduate school to one of the largest graduate engineering schools in the country. In 1923 the School's plan of study was again revised, now to offer two undergraduate programs along with a professional graduate degree and the M.S. degree. By the 1920a the School had seven departments total, a division which lasted well into the 1970s: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mining-Metallurgical Engineering, and Drafting (Mechanical Drawing). The six engineering departments sponsored professional courses with drafting as a service department to the others; further specialization within these six engineering branches was confined to graduate study. As indicated by the departmental titles, engineering had become the focus of the School, reflecting the progressing needs in society, and so, in 1926, the School underwent its second name change to become simply the School of Engineering, with its Faculty of Engineering.
While in the early 1920s the School saw a slow recovery after the war in registration, faculty, and curricula, the remaining time between the two World Wars saw an increase in research and graduate education and enrollment at the School of Engineering. From this developed pressing needs for expanded research laboratories, equipment, space, and facilities, impeded by depression conditions. Throughout the School's history, however, its Faculty found innovative ways to utilize their facilities and equipment to the greatest degree, expanding into spaces unused by other College, and later University, departments, and making use of all resources available. In 1935 a special committee on the School's 75th Anniversary was appointed, chaired by the Columbia University Trustee Chairman Coykendall, an alumnus of the School. In 1939 the School celebrated 75 years of history with an events program spread out through its anniversary year. Of note are its Camp Columbia alumni reunion, called "Old Home Week" and its Fireside Talks, for which School alumni John R. Dunning, a future Dean of the School, and Edwin H. Armstrong, inventor of FM radio and School professor, spoke. Also as part of the celebrations, the first Egleston Awards were bestowed on twelve recipients "for distinguished engineering achievement." Both the Camp Columbia reunions and the Egleston Awards became annual events. Along with an open house of the School and a large, formal dinner, the 75th Anniversary celebrations included the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on the original site of the School of Mines at the corner of 50th Street and Park Avenue.
At this time, Professor Thomas T. Read of the School of Engineering strove to complete a 75-year history of the School. With the help of Mr. Roger Howson of the University's History Department, Professor Read completed an unpublished manuscript of his history. Though never realized as a published book itself, Read's manuscript was used by Professor James Kip Finch, former Dean of the School, to complete his A History of the School of Engineering for Columbia's bicentennial celebrations in 1954.
After the year-long anniversary festivities of 1939, the School once again participated in engineering education for the war effort in 1940, this time for World War II. Not only did the faculty again apply their services to research and duty at the School and elsewhere in the country and world as needed, by they also instructed armed forces men and civilian women who would relieve or replace the service men in industry. During World War II, while some faculty left to participate in the war effort, such as work on the atom bomb, at the School of Engineering the program of study accelerated to meet the growing demand for engineers. Graduate enrollment dwindled at this time, while undergraduate enrollment more than tripled, turning the School of Engineering into a relatively large undergraduate institution throughout the war.
After the war, the School returned to its pre-war undergraduate program and revived its graduate instruction and research. In 1942 the School of Engineering changed its rules to allow women admission, the last of Columbia's professional schools to do so. Interest engineering flared after World War II, reflected in increased enrollment in the School, and so the School looked into expanding its facilities. In 1948 plans were announced for a new School of Engineering facility at 125th Street and Broadway to address the School's perpetual space issues. The fundraising campaign for the new Engineering Center for laboratory instruction and research began in 1950 during Dwight D. Eisenhower's Columbia University presidency and received notable support from this future President of the United States. With a strong campaign throughout the 1950s, the new center was finally realized in 1961 as the Seeley Wintersmith Mudd Building of the Columbia Engineering Center.
In 1964 the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), as it was now called by this time, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the School of Mines. At this time, the School of Mines, the title of which was retained by Columbia University, honoris causa, was renamed the Henry Krumchool of Mines after this alumnus and his wife Lavon Duddleson Krumb.
The School continued on its course of constant growth and evolution with the addition of three departments over the years: Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, founded in 1978; Computer Science, established in 1979; and Biomedical Engineering, founded in 2000. Though not new, two of the School's departments evolved from their 1920s incarnations. Operations research courses were added to the industrial engineering program in 1952, forming the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Department. In 1998 the Henry Krumchool of Mines became the Earth and Environmental Engineering department. The School again underwent another name change in 1997, becoming the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Though the original School of Mines evolved well beyond the original plan of its founder Thomas Egleston, Jr., the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science continues its ancestor's tradition of producing pioneering, successful, and well-respected professionals, educators, and researchers in science and engineering.