The Archives of the City University of New York Graduate School and University Center consist of reports, correspondence, pamphlets, books, periodicals, other publications, photographs, video and audio tapes or discs, and other materials, all documenting or otherwise related to its history and operations. They were gathered over the past 15 years or so, mainly from sources within the Graduate Center, but some documents came from the CUNY Administration and, via correspondence and copying, from some of CUNY’s component colleges. They are open (by appointment) to CUNY administrators, faculty and other staff members, students, and others authorized by the Chief Librarian, and are housed in the Special Collections room, C196.04, on the Concourse level.
The Archives have been organized into a coherent, searchable collection of 11 record groups, as listed below, each with its own guide. The guides are often sufficiently informative to obviate access to the documents themselves.
- A Basic Subject File (“Subjects”)
- Centers and Institutes
- Committee Records
- President’s Files – Introduction
- Vice President for Finance and Administration
- Doctoral Students Council (DSC)
When new materials are transferred to the Archives, they are integrated into these record groups or formed into new, additional record groups as appropriate. However, recent advances in information technology have greatly diminished the use of paper and other “hard” media for record-keeping and communications, and the inflow to the Archives has been diminished accordingly.
The record groups are shelved in this order. Within each record group material is placed in archival folders, which are stored in archival boxes. The folders bear titles describing their contents, and the boxes are labeled with the titles of the folders they contain. The boxes as well as the folders within them are usually in alphabetical order. Material within each folder is usually filed in reverse chronological order, i.e., with the latest item in front. As a rule only one copy of each item has been retained – usually the most nearly complete and best preserved. Bound books and oversized materials are shelved, to the extent possible, adjacent to the boxes of the record group to which they pertain. Subject titles of folders are usually in the natural word order (not inverted) (e.g., Ralph Bunche Institute on the United Nations, not Bunche, Ralph, Institute…).
The guides list the titles of all folders in the group, generally followed by summaries of their contents, explanatory notes, and cross-references, all designed to facilitate the retrieval of desired information. The summaries are often so detailed that consultation of the source documents becomes unnecessary. There is also a separate introductory note to the Presidents’ Files (V).
There is considerable overlap among the groups: topics treated by a given committee may appear in other documents in the “Subjects” group or again in a president’s papers. While cross-references are used extensively within a given record group they are very rarely employed to lead from one record group to another.
Users wishing to access material in the Archives should first consult the guides to one or more record groups they select. The selected guide may be browsed, or pages containing a desired topic may be retrieved by using the “find” feature (control + f). (Unfortunately this works only with one record group at a time.)
Access to the documents in the Archives must be arranged in advance. (Students and outsiders must obtain permission of the Chief Librarian.) Prospective users should telephone the archivist, Dr. John Rothman, at 212-817-7076, for an appointment. Dr. Rothman is at the Graduate Center usually only on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. Because the materials in the Archives are unique and many are quite fragile, access is permitted only under the following procedures:
- The Archivist will retrieve requested materials from the shelves (no more than one box at a time) and will provide folders from a box to the user, for his/her perusal, one at a time. Users may not enter the stacks to remove materials.
- The Archivist must be present while a user is working with the files, and will return folders to the box and the box to the stacks when the user is finished.
- Users must handle papers with care and make sure that they are returned to the folder in the original order.
- Notes may be taken in pencil only. Ink and colored markers are prohibited.
- The Archivist will be available for consultation with the user and will accept requests for photocopies of a reasonable number of pages. There are no facilities for self-service photocopying.
If a user wishes to quote an entire document or a portion of a document that exceeds fair use limitations, permission to do so must be obtained in advance by a written request to the Archivist. If the document is copyrighted, clearance must be obtained from the copyright holder. In any event, credit must be given to the GSUC Archives by some phrase of acknowledgment such as “Courtesy of the Graduate School and University Center Archives.”