Help Write Columbia’s History

Nearly every morning from the 1940s until the early 1980s, artist Sam Steinberg took the subway from his Bronx apartment to his place of business—Columbia’s campus. From the steps of Hamilton Hall, he hawked candy bars along with his paintings, some of which still hang on an office wall in Low Library. When the weather turned cold, Steinberg roamed College Library to peddle his wares. Whatever the season, his pitch remained consistent: “Hey mistah, I got paintings here! Or maybe you want a Hoishey bar?”

The Steinberg legend is recalled by longtime Columbia staff member Flo Grant on a new feature of the Columbia 250 Web site dedicated to collecting and archiving personal perspectives on Columbia’s history by those who studied, taught, or worked at the University throughout the years. Do you remember when Eisenhower was the University President (1948–53)? Did you have an insider’s view of I.I. Rabi’s lab or Vladimir Ussachevsky’s Electronic Music Center? Do you remember when Columbia went coed? Were you at Columbia in 1968? Add your perspective by going to

“ ‘Write Columbia’s History’ invites individuals—faculty, staff, alumni, students, friends, parents, or neighbors—to shape the telling of Columbia’s past and to provide context for its present and future,” said University Provost Alan Brinkley. “Professor Robert McCaughey has termed Columbia’s history ‘disputatious,’ and this site will certainly display that disputatiousness for all to ponder.”

Selected contributions will appear on the site throughout the year and all submissions will be preserved in a digital time capsule for Columbia’s 300th anniversary celebration in 2054.