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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one series.
This collection consists of the membership files, dinner records and minutes of the Society of Older Graduates.
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.
There are no restrictions on this collection.
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.
Additional materials related to the Society of Older Graduates can be found in the Historical subject files (UA#0002).
No additions are expected.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative. The collection was processed by Joanna Rios in December 2022.
2022-12-16 Finding aid published (JR)
History / Biographical Note
The move from 49th Street to Morningside Heights in 1897 led to an expansive growth in the number of Columbia alumni associations. With their old stomping grounds gone, nostalgic alumni were looking for ways to stay connected to their Alma Mater in this new, unknown campus. An interclass group, the Society of the Early Eighties for the College and Mines Classes from 1880 to 1884, offered a successful model. Older graduates were looking to start a comparable group and the Society of Older Graduates came together in 1909, thanks to Pierre de Peyster Ricketts, Mines Class of 1871 and a professor of assaying in the School of Mines from 1885 to 1900. The original objective was "to promote and strengthen the bonds of good fellowship between its members; to encourage and maintain mutual understanding and confidence between Columbia and her graduates; to uphold the influence and further the interests of Columbia University." Any member of a College or Mines Class through 1879 was eligible for active membership. College Dean John Howard Van Amringe ("Van Am"), College 1860, was elected the Society's first president. In 1920, with the number of alumni from the early classes dwindling, the Society adjusted its membership policy to include any alumnus 30 years after his graduation. With this 30-years-out change, the Society became the only one of the four started by the men of 49th Street to continue.
In addition to its beloved Annual Dinner, the Society raises funds to support the University. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Society funded what became the College Dean's Fund to support students financially. They created a bequest committee to encourage alumni to include Columbia legacies into their wills. In 1949, the Society introduced the "Great Teacher Awards," to be given each year, one to a College and one to an Engineering faculty member. The first awards went to Mark Van Doren and Edwin H. Armstrong. Other winners included Harry J. Carman, James Kip Finch, Dwight C. Miner, and George M. Allen. Over the years, the Society made numerous gifts to the University for the construction of the field house at Baker Field and the Engineering Center, benches on College Walk for the Bicentennial, and more.
By the 1990s, the group was renamed again, Society of Columbia Graduates, and is open to alumni who graduated at least 25 years ago. They continue to preside over the Great Teacher Awards.