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   University Seminars records, 1945-2000.

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Columbia University Seminars Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.:UA#0118
Bib ID:6939740 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Columbia University. University Seminars.
Title:University Seminars records, 1945-2000.
Physical description:170.21 linear ft. (389 document boxes, 7 record storage cartons)
Language(s): Material is in English
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

Material is into three series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The collection consists of the records of university seminars in various fields for each academic year since their establishment. A typical file will include minutes of the meetings, but there may also be supporting documentation such as correspondence, reports, or copies of papers presented at a meeting.

Series I: Minutes and Notes

The Minutes and Notes series includes minutes, notes, and supplementary materials for the University Seminars. A typical file will include meeting notes, but may also include correspondence and invitations related to any given meeting of the seminar or papers presented at a meeting.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

There are no restrictions to see the University Seminars Archive. Boxes may be recalled, and viewed in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library Reading Room, adhering to RBML Reading Room guidelines. However; as the library does not hold the copyright to this collection, permission to publish must be obtained in writing from Director of the University Seminars, Robert Pollack, via email at pollack@columbia.edu

Restrictions on Use

The University Seminars Archive is available for research purposes in the Reading Room of the Columbia Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, subject to the policies and procedures applicable to the use of RBML collections. However, copyright in individual items in the collection may be held by the University, by individual participants and contributors, or by others. Researchers seeking permissions to use materials from the collection should submit inquiries and permission requests to the Director of the University Seminars, Robert Pollack, via email pollack@columbia.edu.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Columbia University Seminars Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

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

Processing Information

Records processed 1996 ptl

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion October 19, 2012 Finding aid written in English.
    2012-10-19 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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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.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Annual reports.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Directories.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lectures.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Minutes.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Newsletters.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Notes.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Seminars.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
College teachers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Scholars.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

In the nineteen thirties, Professor Frank Tannenbaum had discussed with Nicholas Murray Butler the idea of ongoing groups of Columbia professors and experts from the whole region to explore matters no single department had the breadth or the agility to study. Butler liked the idea as a quick way to mobilize the intellectual resources of the University about suddenly emerging problems, but World War II supervened and it was 1944 before his successor, Frank Fackenthal, approved the first five University Seminars. Three of these Seminars still meet: Peace, Religion, and The Renaissance.

The Seminars have continued to serve Butler’s purpose, but they have also become an intrinsic part of the enterprise Columbia does better than any great university in the world, the ongoing education of its own faculty. Most of this education takes place within the academic departments, but Tannenbaum was continuing a tradition of General Education in a Core Curriculum that Columbia had been developing for thirty years. The Contemporary Civilization and the Humanities courses are famous for the breadth they give Columbia undergraduates, and astonishingly unrecognized as a boot-camp where econometricians acquire sophistication by conducting rough and tumble discussions of Plato.

This tradition positioned Columbia professors to invent the interdisciplinary regional institutes that trained graduate students to handle post-war complexities beyond their departments, but also forced political scientists, economists, and literary scholars to learn from each other. Over the past two thirds of a century, the Seminars have offered more and more specialists from Columbia and elsewhere the chance to learn and discover things together.

When Tannenbaum died in 1969, there were fifty Seminars. He and his wife, Jane Belo Tannenbaum, left the Seminars a million and a half dollars in their wills, to be invested and reinvested as a dedicated part of Columbia’s endowment. Tannenbaum wrote a charter to “protect the spontaneity of the Seminars from an unstructured situation [in which] interference is inevitable, because the desire for general rules and uniformity is irresistible.” The Director of the Seminars was not to be appointed by the President of the University but selected and instructed by a General Committee, consisting of Columbia’s President, Provost, and the chairs of all the Seminars.

In the four decades since, the number of Seminars has grown to the eighty-four listed in this website. About half the Seminars that have been founded are still meeting, while half have merged, split, or dissolved. James Gutman followed Tannenbaum as Director from 1969 to 1975, followed by Aaron Warner, from 1976 to 2000, and Robert Belknap from 2001 to 2011, when his student Robert Pollack succeeded him.

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