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Diplomas and Certificates Collection, 1714-2003 [Bulk Dates: 1800-1959]

Summary Information

At a Glance

Title:Diplomas and Certificates Collection, 1714-2003 [Bulk Dates: 1800-1959]
Physical description:56.87 linear feet (25 OS Flat boxes, 3 MsB, 1 Tube Box, 3.5 map case drawers).
Language(s): In English, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, German.


This collection is arranged in one series: Series I. Diplomas and Certificates.


Scope and Content

This artificial collection is comprised of individual diplomas and certificates awarded by Columbia and other institutions to people who have been associated with Columbia University from its inception as Kings College to the present. Included are examples of diplomas issued by the various schools at Columbia and for the different types of degrees awarded by these schools. The series also contains ceremonial certificates of greeting presented to the University on special occasions, such as the 1954 Bicentennial, certificates presented to individuals by other organizations, and some correspondence regarding honors bestowed on individuals.

Series I. Diplomas and Certificates

This series is comprised of individual diplomas and certificates from both Columbia and other institutions which were presented to people with Columbia University associations dating from its inception as Kings College to the present. In some cases there is related correspondence included with the diplomas or certificates. Examples of diplomas from the various schools under the umbrella of Columbia University (e.g, Columbia College, School of Mines, College of Physicians and Surgeons) and the different degrees offered to students by Columbia (e.g, B.A., M.A., PhD., M.D.) are found in this collection. The series also contains ceremonial certificates of greeting and distinction presented to the University on special occasions such Dwight Eisenhower’s installation as President of Columbia in 1948, the 1954 Bicentennial of Columbia University’s establishment, and for national service work such as the development of the atomic bomb. There are many diplomas and certificates received by particular individuals. Most notable are those received by Nicholas Murray Butler, Samuel Johnson and his family, John Erskine, Frederick A.P. Barnard, Seth Low, and Frederick de Peyster, Jr.

Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

 The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 1-29. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least (2) business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

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); Diplomas and Certificates Collections; Box and Folder (if known); University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Collections:

Central Files (UA#0001). Columbia University Libraries.

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 staff of the University Archives and Columbiana Library in Spring and Summer 2015.

Container list information was reformatted by Christina Cary (CC 2015) and Mary Constant (CC 2017) 2015.

Finding aid written by Jocelyn Wilk November 2015.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion November 17, 2015

Finding aid written in English.

    2015-11-17 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:
Degrees, AcademicPortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Barnard, Frederick A. P. (Frederick Augustus Porter), 1809-1889.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cardozo, Benjamin N. (Benjamin Nathan), 1870-1938.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia College (New York, N.Y.).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--College of Physicians and Surgeons.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--School of Mines.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Erskine, John, 1879-1951.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fackenthal, Frank Diehl, 1883-1968.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Howe, Herbert Barber, 1882-1957.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johnson, Samuel, 1696-1772.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johnson, William Samuel, 1727-1819.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johnson, William Samuel, 1795-1883.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kemp, James Furman, 1859-1926.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
King's College (New York, N.Y.).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kirk, Grayson L. (Grayson Louis), 1903-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Low, Seth, 1850-1916.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Moore, Nathaniel Fish, 1782-1872.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Nevins, Allan, 1890-1971.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sovern, Michael I.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

Columbia University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States, was founded in 1754 as King's College by royal charter of King George II of England. Samuel Johnson, the College's first president, held the first classes in October 1754 in the vestry room of the Trinity Church schoolhouse on lower Broadway. There were eight students in this first class. This room housed classes until 1760 when the school moved to a building on Park Place in downtown Manhattan, near the present site of City Hall. Classes were suspended during the American Revolution in 1776 and the building was used as a barrack and hospital for both British and American troops. When instruction resumed in 1784, King's College changed its name to Columbia, in keeping with the contemporary political climate.

Classes continued in the Park Place campus building until 1857, when, to accommodate its continuing expansion, the college moved to 49th Street and Madison Avenue. It remained at this site for forty years, until 1897, when the university was moved by President Seth Low to the more spacious Morningside Heights campus, designed as an urban academic village by McKim, Mead, and White.

During the last half of the nineteenth century, Columbia rapidly assumed the shape of a modern university. The Columbia School of Law was founded in 1858. The country's first mining school, a precursor of today's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, was established in 1864 and awarded the first Columbia Ph.D. in 1875. Barnard College for women became affiliated with Columbia in 1889; the medical school came under the aegis of the University in 1891, followed by Teachers College in 1893. In the 1880s, Columbia developed graduate faculties in political science, philosophy, and pure science, establishing Columbia as one of the nation's earliest center for graduate education. In 1896, the Trustees authorized the use of yet another new name, Columbia University, and today the institution is officially known as Columbia University in the City of New York.

During the presidency of Nicholas Murray Butler (1902-1945), Columbia emerged as a preeminent national center for educational innovation and scholarly achievement. The study of the sciences flourished along with the liberal arts. Franz Boas founded the modern science of anthropology at Columbia in the early decades of the twentieth century; the School of Journalism was established by bequest of Joseph Pulitzer in 1912; a course of study of original masterworks for undergraduates was created which ultimately developed into what is now known as the Core Curriculum; and atomic research was conducted by Columbia faculty, bringing the Physics Department to international prominence. In 1946, the School of International Affairs (now the School of International and Public Affairs) was founded marking the beginning of intensive growth in international relations as a major scholarly focus of the University.

Columbia continued to expand in the ensuing decades -- improving both its physical plant and creating new programs and infrastructure for a growing campus and community. Today it is considered one of the pre-eminent institutions of higher learning in the country and in the world.