Center For Human Rights Documentation And Research

The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research supports the community of teachers, students, researchers, and law and social justice advocates working in the multidisciplinary sphere of human rights by building research collections, supporting and engaging in human rights education efforts, and developing events and collaborations related to human rights documentation and research. On behalf of the Center, Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds and manages archives of organizations and individuals who have played significant roles in human rights advocacy, education and research, and provides access to these collections for researchers. 

The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research is located in 318 International Affairs Building (420 West 118 St.) on Columbia’s campus, and can be contacted by phone at (212) 854-3630 or by email at [email protected].

Amnesty International USA Archives

Founded in 1961, Amnesty International (AI) advocates for human rights across the globe, campaigning against political imprisonment, capital punishment, and torture, while promoting the dignity and rights of women, children, indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants, religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities, and other marginalized people. AIUSA, the section of the organization based in the United States, pursues these goals through a national office and regional, local, and student groups. Within the collection’s extensive holdings from the National Office Records (1966-2003, bulk 1974-1993),  the Board of Directors Files and Executive Director’s Files include correspondence from the 1970s about the organization’s lack of support for homosexuals at that time and files pertaining to internal discussions between 1988 and 1993 about how to address homosexuality within a human rights framework; the Membership Mobilization Files include United Nations documents on AIDS and health care from 1989, while the Campaign and Country Files discuss a 1994 “Breaking the Silence—Sexual Orientation Campaign.” Note: some of these files are restricted until 2023 or 2024.

Committee for Health in South Africa Records

The Committee for Health in South Africa (CHISA) brought together volunteer health professionals from North America concerned with racial disparities and other urgent problems in health care in South Africa. From its founding in 1984, the group supported the anti-apartheid movement while organizing delegations, conducting research, educating and supporting health workers in the region, and promoting awareness in the international medical community. The organization played a significant role in early research, policy discussions and proposals, and prevention work relating to the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. The collection (1981-1998, bulk 1985-1991) includes correspondence, conference and project information, organizational files, and health outreach materials intended for South Africans.

Human Rights Watch Archives

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a US-based organization dedicated to protecting human rights around the world by documenting abuses and pressuring governments and organizations to institute reforms. Founded in 1978 in Helsinki to monitor Soviet bloc governments’ compliance with international human rights agreements, since then it has expanded its scope globally and addresses a wide range of issues including child soldiers, censorship and freedom of expression, landmines, political corruption, and criminal justice abuses, as well as the human rights dimensions of HIV/AIDS, prostitution and sex trade work, and homosexuality. The collection is divided into five regional sets of records—Africa Watch (1977-1997, bulk 1989-1995), Americas Watch (1966-1994, bulk 1980-1994), Asia Watch (1978-1997, bulk 1987-1997), Helsinki Watch (1952-2003, bulk 1978-1994), and Middle East and North Africa Watch (1978-1997, bulk 1989-1994)—and include an enormous array of correspondence, briefing papers, research files, press releases, field notes, and much more.