Columbia University Archives: Alumni Search

University Archives

Butler Library postcardColumbia University Archives
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Butler Library, 6th Floor
535 West 114th Street
New York, NY 10027

Phone: (212) 854-3786
Fax: (212) 854-1365
E-mail: uarchives@columbia.edu

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Related Collections

Barnard College
The Barnard Archives and Special Collections serves as the final repository for the historical records of Barnard College, from its founding in 1889 to the present day. For more information, please contact archives@barnard.edu.

Health Sciences Library
The Archives and Special Collections at the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library of Columbia University can help you find information about the schools of the Medical Center: College of Physicians & Surgeons, School of Nursing, College of Dental Medicine (formerly the School of Dental & Oral Surgery), Mailman School of Public Health, and the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences. For more information, please contact hslarchives@columbia.edu.

Alumni Search

How to find former students

If you are looking for a former student at Columbia University, here are the most popular sources available online.

  • Columbia University Alumni Register 1754-1931
    Containing 99,721 names of both graduates and non-graduates from 1754 through 1931, the Alumni Register of 1932 lists for each former student: name, academic connection with Columbia (degree, class, school), and often one address and occupation as of 1931. For earlier editions of the register and related resources, visit our Alumni Registers page.
     
  • Student Directories
    Staff and student directories, from 1893-1894 to 1943-1944, can be found in the back of the yearly Catalogues of Officers and Students. The Catalogues often include student registers (list of students in each division or school) and lists of degrees conferred.
     
  • Columbia Spectator
    The student newspaper, from 1877 to 2012, has been scanned and is easily searchable online. For other student and alumni publications, visit our Publications page.

Here are some additional sources readily available online to help you find information about former Columbia students:

  • Columbia University Roll of Honor
    This website is intended as a memorial acknowledging the sacrifice and contributions of each Columbia war casualty as an individual. The site is searchable by war, by Columbia class and by name.
     
  • Yearbooks
    A small number of Columbia College yearbooks, class books, class histories and commencement programs have been digitized by different repositories. These range from 1871 to 1921. As more of these become available, they will be added to Yearbook section of the University Archives website.
     
  • Publications
    The alumni magazines, Columbia College Today and Columbia Engineering, host past issues on their websites.

For additional information, see our selection of websites and documents on the Columbia History Resources page.

If you are looking for a former student at Columbia University, here are the most popular sources available for use in our Reading Room. 

In order to use the University Archives collections at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML), visitors are required to register their own Special Collections Research Account before their visit and to validate the account in person with government-issued photo identification or Columbia ID card. Once you have created your Special Collections Research Account, you will be able to request the boxes directly from the finding aid or from the CLIO online library catalog record. For more information on how to access our collections, check out our Research & Access website.

  • Historical Biographical Files
    Compiled by the Columbiana curators and University Archives staff, this collection contains information on alumni, faculty, officers and other notable Columbians. You can request materials directly from HBF Finding Aid: click the check box located on the right for the box(es) you need, and then scroll back to the top of the container list document and click “Submit Request” button in the red-rimmed box at top. This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form.
     
  • Directories of Officers and Students
    The University Archives has paper copies of the staff and student directories from 1893-1894 to 2005-2006. When requesting the Directories from CLIO, the online library catalog, look for the University Archives holdings on the right, and click on "Request: Special Collections." This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form. When requesting the directories, please specify the academic year and/or summer session.
     
  • Yearbooks
    Yearbooks from Columbia College and the School of Engineering include photographs, information about student activities, life on campus and current events. To request a yearbook, you will need to enter the request manually from your Special Collections Research Account. In your account under New Request, look for the Manual Request Form (at the bottom of the page), and complete the form with the title, call number and date or year as specified below:
    • Columbiad, from 1869 to 1889, call number CP1 C721
    • Columbian, from 1890 to present, call number CP C722
    • The Miner, from 1879 to 1890, call number CP1 M66
    • The Engineer, from 1925 to 1986, 1992, call number CP1 M66

For more information about our complete yearbook holdings, see our Collections Overview description on yearbooks, facebooks and class books.

Here are some additional sources for finding former students:

  • Alumni Federation Cards
    A collection of index cards kept by the Alumni Federation, these records contain degree and year for alumni as well as information about their lives after Columbia: occupation, addresses, milestones, etc. There are two alphabetical sequences in this collection: those alumni who were still living and those whom the Federation was notified that they had passed away. If the last name can be found in two boxes (one from each sequence), request both. You can request materials directly from Alumni Federation Cards Finding Aid: click the check box located on the right for the box(es) you need, and then scroll back to the top of the container list document and click “Submit Request” button in the red-rimmed box at top. This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form.
     
  • Central Files
    If the alum you are researching received an honorary degree from the University or was a significant donor, you will likely find related correspondence in this collection of administrative files emanating from the Office of the President. If you do not find a folder under the name of the individual, you will need to look for relevant correspondence in a box containing the appropriate letter(s) and the date range you need to look at. For example, if an honorary degree was received in June 1939, you will want to look in a folder dated 1938-1939 for the name you are seeking.  Keep in mind, each letter of the alphabet is divided into chronological groups.  For example, files labeled A-Az for 1930-1931 are followed by the A-Az files for 1931-1932 and so on. You can request materials directly from Central Files Finding Aid: click the check box located on the right for the box(es) you need, and then scroll back to the top of the container list document and click “Submit Request” button in the red-rimmed box at top. This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form.
     
  • Commencement Collection, 1758-
    The Commencement Collection contains primarily printed material, such as programs, tickets, and pamphlets concerning the Columbia University graduation ceremonies. You can request materials directly from Commencement Collection Finding Aid: click the check box located on the right for the box(es) you need, and then scroll back to the top of the container list document and click “Submit Request” button in the red-rimmed box at top. This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form.
     
  • Class Photograph Albums Collection, 1856-1902
    A collection of photo albums representing the faculty and graduating classes of Columbia College (now known as Columbia University in the City of New York), and more specifically, the School of Arts (the undergraduate college now known as Columbia College). While the majority of the albums represent Columbia College, there are a few from other Schools including: the School of Law, the School of Mines, and the School of Music. You can request materials directly from Class Photograph Albums Finding Aid: click the check box located on the right for the box(es) you need, and then scroll back to the top of the container list document and click “Submit Request” button in the red-rimmed box at top. This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form.

Dates of Attendance and Degree Information

Bill Santin (bws1@columbia.edu) of the University Registrar's Office can confirm attendance dates and graduation information; however, he cannot provide information about what classes students took or what grades they received while enrolled at Columbia. Please note that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C.  1232g; CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. For living students, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's educational record. For deceased students one usually has to show legal proof of a familial relationship or be the executor of the estate.

Release of Academic Information for Deceased Students

The following requirements protect the confidentiality of academic information upon the death of a former student or alumnus of the university. The Office of the University Registrar will evaluate each request for the release of a transcript or other academic records of a deceased student on the individual merits of that request and reserves the right to deny the request in whole or to release only part of the academic records that are requested. The Office of the University Registrar does not release academic records of deceased students to the news media or for research purposes.

The closest living next-of-kin may submit a written request along with the following notarized documents in English:

  1. Birth certificate of requestor
  2. Death certificate of former student or alumnus

If there is no living next-of-kin, academic records may be requested by the executor of the estate or holder of power of attorney for the deceased. A written request along with a notarized copy of the executor statement or power of attorney in English is required. Documents must be mailed to:

Columbia University
Office of the University Registrar
c/o William Santin
205 Kent Hall, Mail Code 9202
1140 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027 

Teachers College
If you are looking a former Teachers College student, you should contact Jose Marte (jm4232@tc.columbia.edu) in the TC Records Office and request that his office confirm attendance dates, graduation date, degree earned and the subject area of the degree for the individual.

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About the image

Students at the College Library Reading Room (Scan 3069). Historical Photograph Collection, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.