To our readers:
Spectator spends much of its time looking forward. Reporters try to catch the next big story and editors work on new ways to get you—students, faculty, neighbors, friends—the breaking news, commentary, and distractions that you want. But right now, we’re taking time to look backward into Spectator’s and Columbia’s history.
Beginning today, a large portion of that history is accessible online for everyone to see and search as we launch the Columbia Spectator Archive (spectatorarchive.library.columbia.edu), a joint project from Spectator and Columbia University Libraries. Almost every issue of the Spectator published from fall 1953 through spring 1985, as well as the 1991 and 1992 volumes, has been digitized and uploaded to the new site.
Until now, those who wanted to read Spectator content published more than a decade or so ago resorted to crumbling bound volumes in the Spectator office or fuzzy and incomplete microfilm rolls in the libraries. Spectator’s single bound copy of the 1968 volume has been kept in a locked cabinet, the key to which has been passed from to each successive editor in chief. Today, the text in those articles, headlines, bylines, photo captions, and advertisements is completely searchable, and each page and issue is also viewable and available for download.
Getting to this point took years of work from Spectator editors and Libraries staff, as well as significant financial contributions from Spectator alumni and friends. We’re now working around the clock to raise the final $24,000 that Spectator needs to complete the archive, from our first issues in 1877 through 1953 and from 1993 to the beginning of the 21st century. (If you or someone you know could help us finish the job, please donate here!)
We invite you to click here or the button at the top of the site to explore the archive. Just a few seconds of searching can pull up some real gems. Don’t miss a moving piece about Columbia’s reaction to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, a complete history of Barnard’s decision to remain independent, a summary of Postcrypt’s first event (complete with “coffee and pastries”), and, of course, a day-by-day account of the 1968 campus riots.
We hope you’ll use the archive to dig up information about your club’s founding, past campus controversies, and the history of Morningside Heights and Manhattanville (and their bagel establishments). If you have any questions, or find something especially interesting, let us know. We’ll be featuring more historical content across Spectator and Spectrum in the coming weeks, and using the archive to add context about Columbia’s past to the stories we’ll continue to write about Columbia’s future.
Sarah Darville, editor in chief
Maggie Alden, managing editor
Alex Smyk, publisher