Columbia University Archives: King's College

University Archives

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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.

King's College

How to find information about King's College

Archival collections are non-circulating and can only be viewed in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's reading room (RBML). In order to use the University Archives collections at the 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.

  • Columbia College Papers
    The surviving files of official correspondence, reports, documents, and printed materials of King's College from 1750 to 1784 and Columbia College from 1785 to 1890, as well as Columbia University up to 1964. The King's College era materials include grants, deeds, indentures, lists of governors (now known as trustees), leases, accounts, etc. This collection contains documents relating to the establishment of King’s College in 1754 and its development. These documents include correspondence of the first president, Samuel Johnson, the Governors of King’s College, and others. In addition, there are reports, minutes, bills and receipts, appointment recommendations, and documents by and concerning the students as well as the physical plant of the college.
     
  • Buildings and Grounds Collection
    Compiled over the years by University Archives staff, the Building and Grounds Collection contains materials relating to Columbia University’s buildings and grounds on the three sites that have served as the University's main campus (Park Place, 49th Street & Madison Avenue and Morningside Heights) as well as other real estate used by the University. The Park Place series includes press clippings, maps, floor plans, pamphlets, correspondence, press releases and drawings/sketches relating to Columbia’s first campus location in downtown New York City. The Park Place campus is sometimes referred to as the Lower Estate or The Queen’s Farm.
     
  • Columbiana Manuscript Collection
    The Columbiana Manuscript Collection is an artificial collection of correspondence, diaries, lecture notes, class work, essays, administrative documents, minutes, and other documents related to various aspects of Columbia University and people associated with Columbia over the years. The majority of this collection is comprised of primary documents written by or for students, alumni, faculty, administrators, staff, trustees, and honorary degree recipients. The Kings College Manuscripts series includes  correspondence, religious texts, publications, registers, and other documents related to King's College and the early history of Columbia. Most of the materials in this series were formerly part of a permanent exhibition called The King's College Room which displayed furniture, paintings, books, documents, and artifacts that evoked the colonial era in which King’s College was founded.
     
  • Historical Subject Files
    The Historical Subject Files consists of clippings, press releases, programs, and other printed matter compiled over the years by curators of the Columbiana Collection and staff of the University Archives. You can find relevant materials by searching the full container list on the term "King's College." (Look for Container List on the left side menu and select "View all.")
     
  • James Jay papers, 1762-1765
    Source materials on Sir James Jay, relating principally to his trip to England to raise funds for King's College, 1762-1763, and to the subsequent lawsuit brought by the governors of the college to recover funds which he had collected. Letters, documents, and accounts in manuscript as well as photostats of the records in the Public Records Office in London bearing on the legal action are included. There is some personal and biographical material on Jay as well as photostats and other copies of his writings.

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.

The list below contains documents from the King's College era. Most of these resources have been scanned and are available online.

  • Charters

  • Trustee Minutes
    The University Archives maintains copies of all of the Trustee Minutes from 1754 to the present. These are a particularly useful tool for tracing the history of a department, a specific school's development, or university governance. The Minutes of the University provide official information about numerous topics in the history of Columbia including university governance (e.g., changes to the University statutes), teaching appointments, awards of honorary degrees and certain prizes, endowments, donations of money and materials, real estate purchases, appointments to the Board of Trustees and its various committees, and construction projects. You can access the minutes from the King's College era online:

  • The Matricula
    Also known as the "Register of admissions & graduations, & of officers employed in King's College at New-York," this volume lists the registered students and graduates for each year. For example, you can find Alexander Hamilton listed as entering King's College in 1774. In addition, the last entry in the College Matricula for 1776 reads: "No public Commencement this year. The turbulence and confusion which prevail in every part of the Country effectually suppress every literary pursuit."
     
  • Book of misdemeanours in King's College (a.k.a. The Black Book), 1771-[1775]
    According to the 1931 foreword, "Myles Cooper, coming to the King's College after seven years at Oxford, did much to fit it into the pattern of his alma mater, and as part of his system of rigid discipline he introduced the Black Book, which had been for centuries a tradition at Queen's College, Oxford." The book contains instances of students being punished for absenting themselves from or talking during prayer sessions. Three handwritings appear in the book, those of Myles Cooper, Robert Harpur and Benjamin Moore.
     
  • Alumni Registers
    There are different editions listing the earliest students enrolled at King's College.
  • King's College Library
    Over 100 volumes originally held in the King's College library can be found in CLIO, the library catalog. Before the Revolutionary War, the  library books were sent to City Hall for safekeeping. During the occupation of New York, British soldiers broke into the room in the old City Hall on Wall Street, where the books were stored and helped themselves. There were even reports of soldiers using these books to buy beer and grog in local taverns. In an attempt to encourage the looters to return the books, proclamations and threats of punishment were printed in both English and German in the New York newspapers, but not much came of these notices. It was not until in 1802 that a portion of the original library was recovered when a large number of books belonging to pre-Revolutionary New York institutions were found in a room in St. Paul’s Chapel. 

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.

The list below contains significant publications concerning the King's College era. Most of these resources have been scanned and are available online.

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.

About the images

Top - "Anno 1776. There were no admissions this year." From King's College (New York, N.Y.) The matricula or Register of admissions & graduations & of officers employed in King's College at New-York (1754-1777), 22. University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Right - “Trinity Church school house (Right) Rector Street, Where first class of King’s College was held (8 students) 17 July 1754." Artist's reconstruction of King's College done for bicentennial in 1954. Drawing by E.P. Chrystie. (Scan #0134) Park Place. Historical Photograph CollectionUniversity Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.