The University Seminars Archive

The University Seminar’s archive is a valuable compilation of intellectual history spanning nearly 75 years. In 1945, five seminars began to meet on an ongoing basis. Three of these original five are still active. To date, there have been 203 seminars founded with a broad range of subjects reflecting the questions and challenges of each era. There are currently 93 seminars.

In 2003, then Director Robert L. Belknap conceived and, over several years implemented, the project of scanning 50 years of the pre-digital meeting minutes of the seminars. Under his supervision, over a half million pages were digitized. The original documents were organized, boxed, and entrusted to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

On December 1st, 2015, the University Seminars Digital Archive launched, opening over 36,000 full-text searchable files to scholars on dedicated laptops in the RBML reading room, 6th Floor, Butler. Researchers can browse, keyword search, and view the records from past and present seminars. To date, 207 seminars have been formed. Some met for only a moment in time, while others are still meeting. Only active seminars are listed on this website. See our list of Past Seminars for more information on discontinued seminars.

Boxes containing original materials may also be requested through the library Finding Aid. See below.

The date range of the digital archive is 1944-2012. Additional files will be incorporated on a yearly basis, keeping in-line with the Seminars’ five-year privacy policy.

To submit a request to access archival materials, please use the University Seminars online finding aid. You will be directed to set up a Special Collections Research Account. From here you may request a laptop or specific boxes from the collection.

The University Seminars material is sorted into the following series:

Series I: Minutes and Notes
Series II: Related Papers
Series III: Books Based on University Seminars
Series IV: Digital Archive


The laptop request check box is in Series IV Digital Archive.

You will need to request material at least two business days in advance.

If you have any additional questions regarding the archive, please contact Summer Hart.