Archival Collections
Columbia University Archives

Council for Research in the Humanities Records, 1926-1968 bulk 1926-1936; 1966-1968 

Council for Research in the Humanities
Phys. Desc: 
2.73 linear feet (6 document boxes and 1 half-sized document box.)
Call Number: 
Columbia University Archives
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Biographical Note

The Council for Research in the Humanities was officially established by the University Council at its meeting on February 21, 1928. The Research Council's founding was inspired by findings at a Conference on the Status of Humanistic Studies in the U.S. (Washington, D.C., December 10 and 11, 1926) under the auspices of the General Education Board. In short, the conference found that researchers in the area of the humanities were in need of better funding to aid their research and eventual publication. Despite the fact that humanistic research was considered important and significant, it was not as high profile as that done in the social or physical sciences and, therefore, not as well funded. By establishing the Research Council, Columbia University was able to provide much needed financial aid to selected researchers in the humanities. Allotments were to cover expenses incurred in the research process - everything from clerical assistance, to travel funds and photographic reproductions - and sometimes were extended to publishing costs. Initially this venture was funded by the General Education Board, through a three-year grant of $112,500. When this grant ran out, funding was obtained from the Rockefeller Foundation. Later on, monies would also come from within the University itself. Many individuals received grants over the years, but among the more prominent researchers who received grants were Lynn Thorndike, Ruth Benedict, and Franz Boas. Grants continued to be distributed by the Research Council into the 1980s and very early 1990s. The first Research Council consisted of nine members: Professors W.B. Dinsmoor, R.H. Fife, J.L. Gerig, L.R. Gray, G.P. Krapp, N.G. McCrea, S.B. Murray, H.W. Schneider, and Austin P. Evans. Professor Fife was elected Chairman and Professor McCrea was elected Secretary.

Scope and Contents

The records are comprised primarily of correspondence concerning the proposals, reports, awards and financial allotments for specific projects. The correspondence files also include rejected projects arranged alphabetically by applicant. There is also some internal correspondence between the Council and the Secretary of the University, the Council and department chairs, meeting minutes and agendas, and annual reports of the Council.