Ask Alma's Owl

Black and white photo of William Donovan in his service uniform sitting at a writing desk, writing a note.

William Donovan created and led the first centralized spy agency in the U.S. Columbia would play a pivotal role in his career. Image Courtesy of the CIA

William Donovan created and led the first centralized spy agency in the U.S. Columbia would play a pivotal role in his career.
Soldiers exercise on Columbia's Morningside Campus
One hundred springs ago, when the United States entered the Great War, Columbia University had already begun preparing. Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler, a staunch anti-interventionist, was also deeply committed to national service.
Low Library Dome Construction
Columbia’s Manhattanville campus is coming to life this spring. How was the opening of the Morningside Heights campus celebrated?

The Columbia University Seixas Medal.

Gershom Mendes Seixas, the first Jewish trustee of Columbia College, who served from 1787 until 1815, was a patriot during the Revolutionary War. He helped reestablish the College after the war.
Leone Batista Alberti
Among the 600,000 volumes in Avery, is Leon Batista Alberti’s "De re aedificatoria." Published in 1485, it is the oldest printed book on architecture in the West.
Sadie and Bessie Delany

Bessie and Sadie, as pictured on the cover of their 1993 book, Having Our Say.

Sadie Delany and her younger sister, Bessie, both earned advanced degrees at Columbia at a time when the University enrolled few students of color and fewer women.
In 1939, an Austrian rare book dealer put out a sale catalog that listed books on medicine, science and sexuality from the library of “a famous Viennese scientific explorer.”
W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham, whose well-known works include Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence and The Razor’s Edge, visited Columbia in November 1950 at the invitation of philosophy professor Irwin Edman (CC'1917, Ph.D.’20), a longtime friend.
Telegram Winston Churchill to Fackenthal Columbia University
In 1946, Columbia conferred an honorary degree on Winston Churchill, who had been prime minister of Great Britain when that nation was among the last holdouts to Nazi domination of Europe.
I study chemistry in the Chandler Building. Can you tell me what its namesake, Charles Chandler did for New York? —A Healthy Chemist

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