The Columbia Archives collection documents the planning, development, and continuing physical, institutional, governmental and cultural growth of Columbia, Maryland and the life of its founder James Rouse. Holdings include a wide range of formats with over 700 linear feet of personal papers and organizational records, 6,000 visual images and graphic materials, over 300 audio-visual recordings, and numerous books, reports, local newspapers and artifacts. Taken together, the holdings are a rich resource for investigating any question on Columbia.
- Manuscript and Archival Collections – comprised largely of primary source material covering 62 organizations and individuals in depth, and over 300 organizations to a lesser extent. The James W. Rouse papers and the records of Howard Research and Development Corporation can be found among the rich and broad spectrum of records documenting religious life, governance, health care, education, culture, recreation and leisure, and transportation in Columbia.
- Visual Materials – comprised of over 4,000 photographs and prints, including many created by Howard Research and Development Corporation during the early development of Town Center and the village of Wilde Lake; slides, including those from the Columbia Exhibit Center presentation; posters and artwork by Gail Holliday, creator of Columbia neighborhood posters, and popular Columbia artists Wes Yamaka and John Levering; and a limited selection of postcards.
- Maps and Graphic Materials – contains approximately 300 sketches, drawings, development plans, land plats, and maps most of which were generated by Howard Research and Development Corporation in the planning and development of Columbia.
- Books and Other Printed Materials – includes books on Columbia, new town planning and community development, many of which were used for reference by Howard Research and Development Corporation; studies on Columbia or some aspect of Columbia life; Columbia newspapers; Columbia magazines; and Columbia telephone books. Additional book sections include a selection of books from the office of James Rouse, and a growing selection of works by Columbia authors.
- Audio-Visual Recordings – comprised of oral histories, documentaries (from students and public broadcasting), media coverage, interviews, and regular local programming that focus on Columbia, some aspect of Columbia life or on James Rouse. Formats include film, tape, CDs, and DVDs.
- Vertical Files – a collection of eight separate subject files: Articles About Columbia, Columbia Place Names, Columbia Builders & Developers, James W. Rouse Vertical Files, Biographical File, Art in Columbia, Planned Communities, and Howard County History. All files are clippings based, except for the Columbia Builders & Developers files which are brochure based.
- Artifacts – includes historical artifacts such as a suit jacket worn by James Rouse; The Rouse Company headquarters’ groundbreaking shovel; a ColumBus fare box; a whistle used to summon Rouse to his office for meetings; and sails from the Prairie Ship Columbia, a temporary art installation sponsored by the Columbia Forum in 1989. A variety of promotional items created by various Columbia businesses and organizations to celebrate Columbia and special events are collected, including items such as t-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc., many sporting Columbia’s People Tree image.
The Columbia Archives is an active member of the Maryland History and Cultural Collaborative, a professional organization representing over 50 repositories that collect Maryland history. Click here to view a list of repositories.
And don’t forget to check out other Howard County repositories