|Columbia University Archives|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series: Series I: Office Files; Series II: Personal Files.
This collection consists of Thomas A. McGoey's records, from the various administrative positions he held and some personal records he collected during his over-30-year career at Columbia. The office files include subject files, reading files (outgoing correspondence), and meeting minutes. The personal files contain mostly articles, newspaper clippings, and press releases, but also some memorabilia and correspondence.
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.
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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Thomas McGoey papers; Box and Folder Number; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
Additional McGoey correspondence can be found in Central Files (UA#0001).
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. Collection was processed by Joanna Rios, Summer 2022. Finding aid was written by Joanna Rios, September 2022.
2022-09-16 Added container list; updated front matter. (JR)
History / Biographical Note
Thomas A. McGoey received a MA in 1933 from Columbia's Graduate School of Business and then worked at Columbia for over 35 years. He started as an assistant purchasing agent, and later served as Director of Residence Halls and Dining Rooms, Assistant Business Manager, Business Manager, Vice President for Business, and Special Consultant to the President. He served on the University's Committee on Government Aided Research, which oversaw the administration of sponsored research projects. He also taught marketing in the School of General Studies.
Thomas A. McGoey started his long Columbia career as an Assistant Purchasing Agent in 1937. A year later, he was appointed Director of the Residence Halls, in charge of residence and dining halls. At the time, there were only 6 dormitories: Hartley, Livingston (now Wallach), John Jay, and Furnald, but also Johnson (now Wien), for graduate women students, and Bard (to be renamed), for medical school students. In 1938, the residence halls only accommodated about 500 undergraduate and 750 graduate students each year. In fact, only 25% of the Columbia College and Engineering students lived in dorms.
As a student in the Business School (he received an MS in 1933), McGoey had started and managed the Student Laundry Agency. This was one of the University-sanctioned, student-run agencies, like the concessions at Baker Field, that provided employment and even managerial experience to students (in the era before work-study programs). Originally, the Laundry rates were slightly more expensive than those available in the area but, apparently, it was worth it to subscribers who could drop off and pick up their laundry from the office – never leaving campus. The 1930s-1950s clothes weren't exactly wash-and-wear. The Laundry not only washed but also ironed, replaced missing buttons, turned shirt collars, mended rips, and removed stains at no extra charge. (After 30 years, the Laundry closed in 1961.)
When McGoey took on the Director of the Residence Halls position, he worked with the students in charge of the Laundry service as well as the Student Services Agency. This Agency provided Columbia students with typing, proofreading, radio repair, and even the sale of corsages. McGoey also convened a Student Advisory Committee on Residence Halls to get feedback from students, both residents and commuters. That very first year (1938), students asked for a night club, a place with music and dancing every night, from 8:00 pm to midnight. Based on their input, and only six months later, in February 1939, the John Jay Grill was transformed into the newly remodeled campus hangout, the Lion's Den. Likewise, the Advisory Committee became the permanent Residence Hall or Dormitory Council.
The residence halls were not subsidized by the University (except for building depreciation expenses) and they could not operate on a deficit. This meant that all expenses, mostly the wages of the janitors, elevator operators and maids, had to be paid from the room rental income. Invariably, McGoey and the Dormitory Council would have to negotiate on wage increases for staff, the levels of service and room rate increases. For example, in April 1941, working together with the Council, Sunday morning maid service was discontinued. The maids would no longer have to come to campus for only a few of hours on Sunday mornings to make the residents' beds. In January 1942, the Council successfully requested the installation of a cigarette vending machine in Hartley Hall.
In November 1949, University President Dwight D. Eisenhower promoted McGoey to Assistant Business Manager, and in September 1950, to Business Manager. In this new post, he was in charge of the Residence Halls, but also Purchasing, Buildings and Grounds, and Security. McGoey was there when the University took over the Bookstore from Columbia University Press and the subsequent failed attempt to turn the Bookstore into a coop (1952). He worked with the unions representing the maintenance and dormitory workers, but fought against the unionization of the dining and cafeteria employees (1952 and again in 1964). His tenure as Business Manager was also a busy time in terms of new construction projects on campus: East Campus, the Engineering Center, Ferris Booth Hall/Citizenship Center, the new Law School, etc.
In 1963, a tense Cold War year, McGoey worked on the designation of 23 campus buildings as Civil Defense Fallout Shelters. That same year, he represented the University in front of the City Planning Commission to remove the 116th Street subway kiosk on Broadway. Columbians had to cross busy car lanes on Broadway to reach the subway station opening in the median. The kiosk entrance and center platform were too small for the high pedestrian volume, which led people to step off the curve and into speeding traffic. A student died this way in 1962 and a janitor in 1966. McGoey repeatedly argued on behalf of the University for sidewalk entrances, which finally opened in 1967.
In 1967, McGoey was named Vice President for Business, which seems more of change in title than a change in role. The late 1960s had McGoey supervising campus security during a period of active student demonstrations and the (failed) activation of Columbia's nuclear reactor. After over 30 years of service, he was ready to retire but incoming President William J. McGill persuaded McGoey to remain one more year. Although officially retired as of June 30, 1971, McGoey continued to serve as a special consultant to the President, coordinating the Community Chest campaign for 1973-1974. He died on October 27, 1985.