Columbia Hosted an End-of-Year Book Burning

In the late 1800s, classes would celebrate the end of the school year by burning their most hated Latin and Greek classics books. The fiery event was organized by a committee of undergrads; the Committee of 1880 was even headed by Nicholas Murray Butler CC 1882, who later served as president of Columbia University for 43 years. A poster from that year stated that the sophomore class requested students’ “presence at the consignment to Hades” of their books on May 26. The event included a funeral procession that started at 10:30 p.m., followed by speeches, poetry and then the midnight burning.