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Centers of Excellence

Maison Française Centennial Digital Archive

Project coordinator : Shanny PEER

Total costs of the project : $53.000
Embassy of France support : $30.000

Partners:
- Columbia University - French Dept
- Columbia University - History Dept
- Columbia University - Global Center/ Europe
- Columbia University - Columbia Magazine
- Columbia University - President Bollinger's Office
- Columbia University - Columbia Library Rare Books & Manuscripts Division
- Florence Gould

Summary of the Project

The Columbia Maison Française, the first on an American campus, is celebrating its Centennial in 2013. Requested funding would fund an online Centennial exhibit with a rich digital archive documenting 100 years of French-American exchange viewed through the "micro-historical" lens of the Maison Française. This will make a rich trove of unedited documents available on the Internet to researchers, students, teachers, journalists, and members of the public. If fully funded by Cultural Services, we could make the website available in French as well as English. The online exhibit will complement a Centennial physical exhibit and publication. These will incorporate original, unpublished materials on the history of the Maison Française, and this history will be inscribed within a larger narrative about 100 years of French-American exchange, and about the special relationship between Columbia and France. Key periods will be highlighted, including the world wars, when hundreds of Columbia students and faculty volunteered and were drafted on the side of France. Indeed -- and this will be a revelation in our exhibit -- Columbia President Butler, who founded the Maison, is credited by the French with influencing public and government opinion to enter the war on the side of France in WWI. Thus, the exhibit will include wartime photographs, postcards, and letters of Columbia students and faculty in France. Primary resources include archival materials, photographs, correspondence, ephemera such as posters and invitations, and AV recordings, available in Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Maison Française archives. Research, writing, editing, and curating for this project are led by the director of the Maison Française, Shanny Peer (Ph.D. in French Studies), working with curators and archivists (Susan Hamson and Jocelyn Wilks) in the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscripts Library. Also supporting the project: the Depts. of French and History (advisors Robert Paxton, Pierre Force), University President's Office (through his chief of staff), Columbia Magazine (300,000 readers) (through editor-in-chief), Columbia Global Center / Europe (through director Paul LeClerc), Office of Public Affairs, and others. Graphic designer, Marc Blaustein (art director, website and exhibition designer at the NYPL for 15 years), is providing website, exhibition, and graphic design services.