Columbia University Archives

Department of Classics records, 1885-1992

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0057
Bib ID 5804381 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Columbia University. Department of Classics ; Columbia University. Department of Classical Philology ; Columbia University. Department of Greek and Latin
Title Department of Classics records, 1885-1992
Physical Description 11.42 linear feet (11 record cartons and 1 document box)
Language(s) English .

All administrative records of the University are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation.

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 consists of the correspondence, facutly meeting minutes and administrative records of the Department of Classics.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1910-1955

    This series is made up of two sets of letter files. One set was used to collect the department head's correspondence, organized by correspondent or subject's last name. The other set included the department's committee-related work and other departmental correspondence. This second set is organized more closely (but not exclusively) by subject: A for admissions, B for budget, E for the University Extension, F for fellowships, and S for summer session. The letter files specified beginning and end dates (noted below), but the contents in the files may cover a wider date range (see folder dates). At the end of the series, there is a letter file labeled "Bibliographies." This title does not seem descriptive of the content, but has been preserved.

  • Series II: Department meeting minutes, 1903-1992

    This series contains the department's meeting minutes and the attached documents.

  • Series III: Administrative records, 1885-1974

    This series contains a number of administrative records collected by the department. There are copies of by-laws, which can also be found in the department meeting minutes; lists of resources, dissertations and other bibliographies. Class books is the term used to describe the large-format ledger books used by faculty to record class attendance and grades.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

All administrative records of the University are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation.

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.

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); Department of Classics records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Related Materials

For additional administrative records of the Department of Classics, please consult Central Files (UA#0001), Historical subject files (UA#0002), Faculty Meeting Minutes, 1864-2011 (UA#0005), Charles Anthon manuscripts, 1830-1875, Alan Cameron papers, 1959-2020, Moses Hadas papers, 1930-1966, Gilbert Highet papers, 1929-1978, Nelson Glenn McCrea papers, 1893-1944, and the Harry Thurston Peck papers, 1878-1933.


Additions are expected.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records and correspondence of the Department of Greek and Lating for the year 1910 to 1951 were transferred by Professor Gilbert Highet to Columbiana in July 1965. The records were then transferred from the RBML to the University Archives in 1997.

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 (August-November 2021) and the finding aid was written by Joanna Rios (November 2021).

Revision Description

2021-11-08 Content list 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.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Greek language -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Latin language -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

As Professor Edward Perry once noted, "in the accounts of the early years of King's College among the few subjects at first taught there were Greek and Latin." President Samuel Johnson was the first instructor, assisted by his son and later by Leonard Cutting. Daniel Treadwell was appointed in 1757 as Professor of Mathematics and Natural History but was also the instructor of the youngest class in the Greek and Latin languages.

After the Revolutionary War, William Cochran (or Cochrane) was appointed Professor of Greek and Latin in 1784. He was succeed in 1789 by Peter Wilson, who occupied the post until 1820 (Elijah Dunham, 1792-1797). Nathaniel Fish Moore, Class of 1802, took up the professorship until 1835. Charles Anthon, Class of 1815, was made Adjunct Professor and ten years later was appointed to a new full professorship of Greek and Latin named the Jay Professorship in honor of John Jay, Class of 1764.

When the College moved to 49th Street in 1857, the professorship was divided into the Jay Professorship of Greek (Anthon) and the Jay Professorship of Latin, which was originally awarded to Henry Drisler, Class of 1839. After Anthon's death, Drisler became the Professor of Greek and Charles Short became the Professor of Latin.

In 1868, Augustus Chapman Merriam, Class of 1866, was apppointed Tutor in Greek and Latin. He extended his studies beyond the classical languages into the field of art and inscriptions. In 1880, he was made Adjunct Professor of Greek but by 1889, he became Columbia's first Professor of Greek Archaeology and Epigraphy.

With the formation of the Faculty of Philosophy in 1890 and the development of instruction for graduate students, the department continued to grow to meet the new demands. Drisler also served as Acting President (1867 and 1888) and later Dean of the School of the Arts (1890-1894). Edward Perry, Class of 1875, and James R. Wheeler joined the department in 1895. When Columbia moved to Morningside Heights in 1897, Greek was no longer an undergraduate entrance requirement.

The Anthon Professorship of the Latin Language and Literature was subsequently held by Harry Thurston Peck, Nelson Glenn McCrea and Gilbert Highet. After Drisler, the Greek professorship was awarded to Edward Perry, LaRue van Hook, and Kurt von Fritz.

In 1910, the work in Greek and Latin were combined and the department was renamed as the Department of Classical Philology. But the change was short-lived and, in 1919, a name was adopted: Deparment of Greek and Latin. In 1917 the Latin was no longer an undergraduate requirement.

Edward Delavant Perry, "Greek and Latin at Columbia," Columbia Alumni News, January 29, 1926, 355-357. Moses Hadas, "Department of Greek and Latin," in the History of the Faculty of Philosophy (1954), 178-182.