Frequently Asked Questions

Is the entire archival collection for Carnegie Corporation of New York now available online?

No. The website includes the secretary's records (Subseries I.A), comprising board minutes and supporting materials from 1911-2008, content that was digitized due to preservation concerns (such as Andrew Carnegie grant files and financial record books), the full run of the Corporation’s annual reports, correspondence pertaining to Gunnar Myrdal’s “American Dilemma” study, selected digitized audiovisual public relations materials, and oral histories. It will eventually include born-digital records of late 20th/early 21st century. The majority of the Corporation’s archival files still exist on paper only.

How do I access materials that are not available digitally?

Discover what materials are available in the complete Carnegie Corporation of New York archive finding aid. To consult these materials you will need to visit the Rare Book & Manuscript Library in person. You can register with us by creating a Special Collections Research Account and can then request material in advance via the finding aid.

For oral history interviews that are not available digitally, please visit the Oral History Archives at Columbia website for details about reading transcripts or listening to audio in the Rare Book & Manuscript reading room.

Please note that not all of the oral history media and transcripts have been synchronized.

Why do some oral histories give me the option of viewing the media with synchronized transcript or index?

As a part of this project, Columbia University Libraries was able to develop technology that allows researchers to view or listen to an interview alongside a synchronized transcript and/or index to that interview, thereby making it more accessible and more navigable. This technology is modeled upon the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) tool developed by the Louis B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky under the leadership of Doug Boyd, who also served as a consultant on this project.

Synchronizing and/or indexing an oral history can be labor intensive. With the initial release of this website, we are able to synchronize 65 relating to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Over time we expect to provide this treatment for an ever-increasing number from many different collections held by the Oral History Archives at Columbia.

Why can’t I find current Carnegie Corporation of New York records?

Columbia University is the repository of record for the Corporation’s archive. Like most 21st century organizations, the Corporation’s records now take “born” digital form. Eventually, this platform will serve as an access point for both the digitized records of the past and the born digital records of the future. However, the majority of the Corporation's records are subject to a 15 year embargo, with the exception of grant files which are subject to a 25 year embargo. We expect that the first born digital records will be available by 2040.

Why are some files, such as Library and Church Organ donations are of such poor quality?

The Corporation microfilmed the correspondence files relating to Andrew Carnegie's gifts and grants in the late 1940s and subsequently discarded the original documents. Archival microfilming at that time was in its very early stage of development, so very few quality control procedures were in place; the resulting microfilms were black and white 16mm reels. As part of the Carnegie Digital Past and Future project, these aging microfilms were digitized and are now available for you online. The quality of the resulting digital images corresponds to the quality of the microfilm originals. An exception to this rule were the New York Public Library (NYPL) records, which were donated to that institution and maintained. As a result, the NYPL Library file is the only one digitized from original paper records, so the images are in color and of much higher quality.

Why do documents from the early years of the Corporation contain so many misspelled words?

These documents used simplified spelling,much favored by Carnegie, and mandated for all official papers in the early days of the Carnegie philanthropic foundations. Andrew Carnegie supported the spelling reform of the English language, believing that English, as “the world language of the future,” should be made simpler and easier to learn. For additional information on the attempted spelling reform, see the digitized file on Andrew Carnegie’s donations to the Simplified Spelling Board as well as the paper-based grant file available in the Carnegie Corporation of New York archive at Columbia University (Series III.A Box 325).

What is the preferred citation format?

Carnegie Corporation of New York Records. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Columbia University Libraries. [Series. Subseries. Box Number]

Reminiscences of [Narrator Name, year], Carnegie Corporation Project, [pages], Oral History Archives at Columbia, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.