Columbia University Archives

The Columbia University Archives preserves the institutional memory of Columbia University from its founding in 1754 to the present day. Its records document the development of schools, academic departments and programs, institutes, and administrative units; campus life; public service; and the University’s role in the history of the metropolitan, national, and international communities.  Some of those records document the history of the Student Homophile League, the nation’s first gay student group, and other early LGBT student organizations, as well as the university administration’s response to them; sexual harassment; AIDS; reproductive rights; and student life. 

Columbia University Archives

Location: Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Butler Library (535 West 114th St.), 6th Floor
Research Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (currently by appointment only)
For more information: contact [email protected] or (212) 854-3786.


Columbia University Archives: LGBT Student Groups (Research Guide)

This research guide  explains how to access archival material pertaining to the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender student groups at Columbia University. The guide specifies which Historical Subject Files, Central Files from the Office of the President Records, and Office of the Provost Records contain LGBT-related material and offers links to digitized campus publication archives including the Daily Spectator, the University Record, and Blue and White. This page provides a concise introduction and jumping-off point for research into Columbia’s Student Homophile League and other subsequent LGBT student organizations and initiatives.

Columbia LGBT Records, 1961-2013

This collection (1961-2013, bulk 1967-1989) compiles the records  of the Student Homophile League, which became the first gay student organization on an American campus when it was founded in 1967, Gay People at Columbia (GPC), the Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA), and Lesbians and Gays at Columbia and Barnard (LGCB); information on social and educational activities, including the monthly gay dances which began being held at Earl Hall in 1970; correspondence, publications, subject files, syllabi, surveys, and photographs.

University Protest and Activism Collection

The University Protest and Activism Collection documents student and campus political activity between 1958 and 1999, focusing primarily on the 1968 student strike and the tumultuous period of 1968-72. It does not contain significant material related to the history of sexuality, but provides context for activism on and around Columbia's campus at the time of early gay and feminist student organizing. Subjects include opposition to the Vietnam War and draft, challenges to the military on campus, student roles in university governance, and relations with surrounding communities. The collection includes over 80 boxes of material, including records from the university administration, campus and community groups, Columbia Daily Spectator clippings, reel-to-reel tapes, and over 7,000 photographs.


Demonstrations, 1920s-2000s

These subject files include “newspaper and magazine clippings, press releases, flyers, and other printed matter concerned with demonstrations and protests of Columbia students, faculty, and staff,” addressing a variety of national and international issues. Relevant files include Abortion Rights (1990s); Civil Rights and Liberties (1930s-2000s); and others.

Social Issues, 1880s-2000s

These subject files include “newspaper and magazine clippings, press releases, flyers and other printed matter related to Columbia’s responses to major social issues.” Relevant files include AIDS (1980s-2000s) and the AIDS Memorial Quilt (1980s-1990s); Barnard-Columbia Students for Choice—abortion issue (1980s-1990s); Columbia Gay Health Advocacy Project (1990s); and others.

Student Life, 1810s-2000s

These subject files include “newspaper and magazine clippings, press releases, flyers, printed matter, programs, correspondence and brochures concerning various aspects of student life at Columbia University,” with “information about specific student clubs, groups, events and activities of Columbia students.” Relevant files include Student Handouts: Sex and Sexuality (1970s/undated); Gay Students at Columbia (1970s-2010s); Lesbian Bisexual Gay Coalition (1990s); Lesbians and Gays at Teachers College (1990s); Panty Raids (1950s); Rape Crisis Center (1990s); Rape and Sexual Assault (1980s-1990s/undated); Streaking (1970s); Student Homophile League (1960s-2000s); Columbia Coalition for Life (1990s), and others.

Women at Columbia, 1870s-2000s

These subject files include “newspaper and magazine clippings, press releases, reports, memoranda, flyers and other printed matter related specifically to women students, faculty and alumnae of Columbia University,” pertaining to “academic areas of study (e.g., centers, institutes, and programs), women's social issues (e.g., sexual harassment, feminism), affirmative action, and the history of co-education at Columbia.” Relevant files include Birth Control (1960s); Feminism (1970s-2000s); Gender, Sex, and Sex Discrimination (1990s-2000s); Margaret Sanger Research Bureau (1960s-1970s); Sexual Harassment and Assault (1900s-2000s); Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies Council (2010s); and others.