Columbia University Archives: Varsity Show

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.

Varsity Show

How to find information about the Varsity Show

The Varsity Show: A Columbia Tradition

To start your search on the Varsity Show, visit the online exhibition The Varsity Show: A Columbia Tradition. Here you will find programs, photographs, and artwork together with a history of the show and its famous alumni. This online exhibition is an expansion of a physical exhibit created in 2004 to mark the 110th anniversary of The Varsity Show.


Websites

The Varsity Show is an ongoing tradition. To find out about the this year's (and also to catch up with some of the past) productions, please visit the following sites:

In addition to active or live websites, you can also visit the web archives. The Columbia University Libraries (CUL)  have been capturing Columbia domain (columbia.edu) and Columbia-related sites via the Archive-It service since June 2010. In May 2017, CUL captured 637 videos posted on the Varsity Show's YouTube channel in order to ensure long term preservation of this content. You can access the Varsity Show May 2017 web capture as part of the University Archives web archive.
 

Audio

WKCR, Columbia's student-run radio station, recorded the live performances of some of the Varsity Show productions and then issued vinyl records. The digitized recordings of the Varsity Shows for 1952 through 1955 are now available online. The vinyl records are part of the Varsity Show Records, the archival collection that documents the history of the Show held at the University Archives.
 

Online Publications

Started in 1954, Columbia College Today (CCT) is the official alumni magazine of the undergraduate Columbia College. Issues contain the latest news "Around the Quads," faculty and alumni publications, sport teams scores, alumni profiles, class notes, and obituaries. There have been two issues dedicated to the Varsity Show.

The student newspaper, from 1877 to 2012, has been scanned and is easily searchable online. You can search the issues of the student newspaper for articles about past Varsity Show productions, either by date or by keyword, by visiting the Columbia Spectator Digital Archive.

 

The following are non-circulating materials available only at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) reading room.

The Varsity Show Records is an archival collection that documents the history of Columbia University's Varsity Show, an annual student written and produced musical that lampoons Columbia life. The records contain programs, scores, scripts, photographs, posters and other memorabilia from past productions. Notable Varsity Show alumni include Richard Rodgers (CC 1923), Oscar Hammerstein II (CC 1916), Lorenz Hart (CC 1918), Herman Wouk (CC 1934) and I.A.L. Diamond (CC 1941).

In order to view the Varsity Shows records at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) reading room, you will be required to register your own Special Collections Research Account before your 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 materials directly from the 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.

Please keep in mind that the following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, and 21. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Conceived and directed by Paul Gelinas; with  foreword by Terrence McNally; essay by Thomas J. Vinciguerra. New York : Columbia, 2004. You can request this volume from its CLIO record: Look for the "Request: Special Collections" link found by the item's location and call number on the right side of the page. This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form.

For more information on how to access our collections, check out our Research & Access website. If you have any questions about how to find materials or how to access materials, please contact uarchives@columbia.edu.

Additional Archival Collections

Jones (CC  1940) was active in Columbia Dramatic Group and Columbia University Players. He served as the Captain of the Varsity Show's Pony Ballet in 1940. This collection consists of one-29 x 39 cm-photo album with 125 leaves. Jones documented his days at Columbia College: photographs of his dorm rooms in Hartley Hall, the Columbia Boathouse and crew teams, Varsity Show rehearsals and behind-the-scenes action, a night at the Lion's Den, and football games both at Baker Field and away.

This collection consists of a section of "Blue Sea Lion," a set of essays written by C. Ogden Beresford in the 1990s. In the essays, Ogden discusses his undergraduate years at Columbia College, followed by Midshipmen's School and his service during World War II. "Oggie" participated in three Varsity Show productions, twice as a member of the Pony Ballet (1940, 1941) and once as a second lead (1942). Unfortunately, he tells us, there was no Varsity Show in 1943. The memoir also includes copies of show photographs.

This collection contains the records of the University Committee on Student Organizations of Columbia University from its early days in 1905 through 1919. The Committee on Student Organizations governed rules of eligibility regarding academic standing and eligibility for student organizations as well as number of absences allowed before becoming ineligible. It also monitored athletic activities, scheduling of events, etc. The collection includes the Committee's interactions with Varsity Show from 1906 to 1917.

In order to use the University Archives collections at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML), you will be required to register your own Special Collections Research Account before your 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 materials directly from the 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.

For more information on how to access our collections, check out our Research & Access website. If you have any questions about how to find materials or how to access materials, please contact uarchives@columbia.edu.

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About the images

Top - Chorus line known as pony ballet, 1929. Caption: "Columbia men prepare "Oh! Hector." Here you have the chorus of the Columbia University Varsity show "Oh! Hector"--pretty girls! You're wrong--this is a group of the variety of men who will take part in the production which will open March 5. RS 2/16/29" (Scan #1047). Varsity Show records, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Right - Original poster for 1921 Varsity Show "You'll Never Know" (Scan #1753). Varsity Show records, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.