Columbia University Archives: Seth Low Junior College

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

Map | Hours | Directions

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

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

Seth Low Junior College

How to find information about the Seth Low Junior College

Seth Low Junior College

Seth Low Junior College was an extension of Columbia University, which was meant to serve the educational needs of Brooklyn. Columbia had been offering pre-med courses in Brooklyn since 1916 as part of the University Extension. The courses, using the facilities of the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, were offered during the day and were open to both men and women. In 1925 the University Extension started offering pre-law liberal arts courses in the rooms of the Brooklyn Law School to prepare students to join those professional schools. The two-year community college was named after Columbia's 11th President and former Mayor of Brooklyn Seth Low.

The school had the same requirements for entry, some of the same Columbia faculty, and even charged the same price of tuition as Columbia College. While they had their own library, zoology and psychology laboratories, lecture halls and classrooms, Seth Low Junior College students still had to travel to the Morningside Heights campus for chemistry and physics courses. Students who completed the non-degree, two-year program could go on to enroll in the professional schools (such as Architecture, Business, Engineering, Journalism, Medicine, Law, Library Service, Optometry, etc.). Others could remain for three years and pursue the liberal arts at the Morningside Heights campus as "University Undergraduates" (not Columbia College students). Graduates would receive Bachelors of Science degrees in General Studies (instead of Bachelors of Arts degrees). The demographic makeup of the Seth Low Junior College student body was predominantly Jewish and Italian. With the opening of Brooklyn College in 1930 (free tuition), enrollment at Seth Low dropped off. The Junior College operated from 1928 to 1936. 

If you are looking to learn more about Seth Low Junior College, below are the sources easily available online:

The school's closure in discussed in the 1936 Annual Report by President Butler as part of the changes in the University Extension offerings.


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.

  • Seth Low Junior College records
    This collection consists of the few surviving records of the Seth Low Junior College. It includes the minutes of the Administrative Board (1928-1936), student activity photographs, equipment inventories, and correspondence from administrators and alumni. The materials also include information about closing of the school and the registration information for the remaining students.
  • Central Files
    This is the main collection of administrative files of the University (the "central administration," including the Office of the President). Look for the records related to John J. Coss (in particular about the closing of the school in 1935-1936, Box 343), James C. Egbert (head of University Extension and member of the SLJC Administrative Board, Box 324), Columbia College Dean Herbert Hawkes (including the "Memorandum concerning the organization of a Junior College in Brooklyn,” January 25, 1928, Box 346), William Barclay Parsons (see Parsons to Butler, December 27, 1930, Box 333), Adam L. Jones (chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, 1928, Box 327) among others.
    • See also the John J. Coss papers, which include a folder on the Seth Low Junior College (Box 5).
  • Office of the Registrar records
    This collection includes a ledger with the Seth Low Junior College Statistics, 1929-1936 (Box 52). These are the numbers that were submitted to the Registrar to be included in the President's Annual Report. The stats include the enrollment numbers of University Classes in Brooklyn, the classes offered in Brooklyn along with the number of students registered for the regular year (winter and spring terms) and also for Intersession (summer term).

  • Historical Subject Files
    This collection 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.  Look for Seth Low Junior College, 1930s (Box 49). This folder includes the a copy of The Maroon and Blue, 1934-1935 (student handbook); the Seth Low Junior College information booklet; a list of instructors who taught at SLJC from 1928 to 1934; a copy of the Seth Low Journal of Medicine, Spring 1934; and many newspaper clippings. For more information about the SJLC faculty, look for Vita for Officers of Instruction--Seth Low Junior, College and University Classes, 1930s (Box 147).

  • Historical Photograph Collection 
    This is the University Archives' largest collection of images and includes portraits of individuals, images of buildings and grounds, university events, student activities and student life, athletics, academics, university symbols, university administration, and campus activity. There are folders with images of the Seth Low Junior College students (Box 129, Box OS15 and "Dramatic Society" Box OS 17), mostly as student groups possibly for inclusion in a yearbook (see above the images of the Scop staff and the soccer team). There are also images of the campus (library, student lounge (included above) and the zoology lab) in Box 152. These interior images were used in the information booklet.

  • Student Publications

    • The Scop, a weekly student newspaper. Due to the fragile nature of the original newspapers (call number CT2 Se7) we ask that users only consult the microfilm of this publication call number MN93-2004. 

    • Talisman, a literary magazine from 1932-1935, call number CT2 T14.

    • Yearbooks The University Archives hold two Seth Low Junior College yearbooks, one from 1935 and one from 1936. To request these volumes, please see the Yearbooks, Facebooks and Class Books finding aid.


About the images

The staff of the Seth Low Junior College student newspaper The Scop, 1932 (Scan #4132); the student lounge (Scan #5716); and the soccer team, 1932 (Scan #4136),  Historical Photograph Collection, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.