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Columbia University Founding Anniversaries Collection, 1837-2004

Summary Information

At a Glance

Title:Columbia University Founding Anniversaries Collection, 1837-2004
Physical description:5.42 linear feet (9 document boxes, 1 flat box, 1 record carton, and 29 oversized items)
Language(s):In English


This collection is organized into seven series. Within each series and subseries folders are arranged in alphabetical order. The contents of each folder are arranged in chronological order:


Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, calendars, posters and other printed matter, memorabilia including textiles, such as banners and t-shirts that document and commemorate the anniversary celebrations of Columbia University.

Series I: Columbia College 50th Anniversary

Series II: Columbia College Centennial (100th)

Series III: Columbia University Sesquicentennial Anniversary (150th)

Series IV: Columbia University 175th Anniversary

Series V: Columbia University Bicentennial (200th)

Series VI: Columbia University 250th Anniversary

Subseries VI.1: Program Files

Subseries VI.2: Memorabilia and Objects

Subseries VI.3: Moving Pictures

Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

Thie collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located on-site.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the University Archivist/Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Founding Anniversaries Collection; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David Schmidt (SEAS, 2006) and Darragh Martin (GSAS 2011).

Finding aid written by Jennifer Ulrich, September 2007.

additions written by Jocelyn Wilk in August 2008.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion October 29, 2009

Finding aid written in English.

    2009-10-29 File created.

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.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Commemorative postage stampsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Columbia University--Alumni and alumnae.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Anniversaries, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Centennial celebrations, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King's College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the State of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. King's College was founded in downtown colonial Manhattan and its campus continues to reside on Manhattan island in New York City.

King's College suspended classes in 1776 and was renamed Columbia College by Charter of 1784 after the American Revolution. According to University Attorney John Pine, in "Charters, Acts of the Legislature, Official Documents and Records" (New York: Printed for the University, 1920), the Charter of 1787 repealed the prior, which had deprived King's College of its Charter, corporate rights and property, and restored such to the Trustees of the College. The first significant anniversary recognized by the College is the semi-centennial of the Charter of 1787, celebrated in 1837. Later, the centennial of the College was celebrated corresponding to the establishment and charter dates in 1854 and 1887.

Minor events occurred to commemorate the Sesquicentennial (150th). Among these activities, President Nicholas Murray Butler hosted a commemorative dinner, a special service was held at Earl Hall, and a University Convocation was given where several honorary degrees were awarded, mostly to faculty.

In 1929, a large collection of portraits, both paintings and sculpture, of faculty and alumni were donated to the University by various individuals in honor of the 175th anniversary of the 1754 founding of King's College. A convocation was held October 31, honoring notable alumni and faculty of the University.

The celebrations of the University bicentennial included large scale, world-wide programs under the leadership of President Grayson Kirk. Anniversary sponsored productions and events were held by other universities, libraries, and regional Columbia alumni committees. A traveling exhibit, convocations, conferences, lectures, and symposiums promoted the theme, "Man's Right to Knowledge and the Free Use Thereof."

Commemorative objects produced included a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service. A "Bicentennial Medal" was awarded during special convocations. A thorough description of the year-long events is documented in the University publication, Columbia's "Bicentennial: An Account of the Planning and Execution of a World-Wide Program of Observances Centering on the Theme Man's Right to Knowledge and the Free Use Thereof" (New York: Columbia University, 1956).

In 2004, the University marked another major anniversary celebration. The "Columbia 250th" Office organized festivities accompanying the celebration of Columbia University's 250th Anniversary of the 1754 founding of King's College. These festivities included concerts, lectures, symposia, special publications, exhibitions, various ceremonies, and dinners among other events. A University-sponsored film directed by Ric Burns was produced by Steeplechase Films, distributed and screened by alumni organizations as well as broadcast on local PBS stations