Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Columbia Foundation Records
BANC MSS 2013/235  
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Materials Cataloged Separately
  • Acquisition Information
  • Additions
  • System of Arrangement
  • Processing Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library
    Title: Columbia Foundation records
    creator: Columbia Foundation
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 2013/235
    Physical Description: 171.8 linear feet (137 cartons, 3 oversize folders, 1 oversize box)
    Date (inclusive): 1935-2013
    Date (bulk): 1979-2013
    Abstract: The Columbia Foundation records document a history of charitable giving to organizations working in the areas of human rights, sustainable communities, food and farming, the environment, and arts and culture.
    Language of Material: Collection materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Columbia Foundation Records, BANC MSS 2013/235, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research, with the following exceptions: all files (Carton 25, folders 13-24) related to the Center for Food Safety are closed until 2021. All email files are closed until 2044.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Materials Cataloged Separately

    Digital materials have been transferred to the Digital Collections Unit of The Bancroft Library.
    Video and sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Acquisition Information

    The Columbia Foundation Records were given to the The Bancroft Library by the Columbia Foundation on November 22, 2013.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Jeffrey P. Sahaida in 2014.

    Organizational History

    In 1940, Madeleine Haas Russell and her brother, William Haas, established their philanthropic organization, the Columbia Foundation, for "the furtherance of the public welfare." The Columbia Foundation was a charitable organization dedicated to funding programs of groups in the Northern California region, as well as nationally and internationally.
    Madeleine Haas Russell (1915-1999) was born in San Francisco and was orphaned at an early age with the deaths of her widowed father, Charles Haas, head of the San Francisco business firm of Haas Brothers, and her grandfather, Jacob Stern, a nephew of Levi Strauss and a principal of Levi Strauss and Company. Madeleine attended Smith College and graduated in 1937. In 1946, Madeleine married Leon B. Russell, a screen writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and later an executive at Pan American World. The couple were divorced in 1959. Madeleine had three children: Alice Russell-Shapiro, Charles P. Russell, and Christine H. Russell.
    As the heir to large fortunes from both sides of the family, Madeleine began her philanthropic work almost as soon as she came of age. The Columbia Foundation, which she and her brother William Haas (1916-1943) founded, was one of California's earliest private foundations with interests in environmental, cultural, and social efforts - efforts, in some cases, that were not yet well understood or supported by the public at large. One of its earliest grants was to the Japanese American Student Relocation Council, in support of college education for Japanese-American youth interned during World War II. In addition, early support in the 1940s was given to forward thinking and varied social programs, such as funding for birth-control education and supplies for migrant women in California, and support to the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists to raise public awareness over nuclear energy use. Over the years, the Columbia Foundation ultimately focused its main philanthropic efforts on several core areas: human rights, sustainable communities, food and farming, the environment, and arts and culture.
    In the area of human rights, Columbia Foundation's goal was to fund programs that protected basic rights - including economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. Columbia was one of the first foundations to support protection of civil and human rights for gays and lesbians, with its 1979 grant to the Human Rights Foundation. In addition to providing support for gays and lesbians, the Foundation also focused its efforts in the areas of second chance education programs for incarcerated juveniles and adults, as well as public financing of campaigns and election reform efforts.
    The Columbia Foundation also worked to advance community and economic development programs for a just and equitable life for all species. As such, the Foundation focused its grantmaking efforts on promoting sustainable food systems in order to secure a livelihood for farmers and farm workers; protect natural resources, biodiversity, and public and environmental health; and provide access to affordable and nutritious food from local and regional sources. As part of these efforts, Columbia funded the Roots of Change program to promote California's transition to sustainable organic food and farming systems. In addition, the Foundation helped establish the Agroecology Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Columbia Foundation's interest in the environment was also expressed through significant support to many groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Protection Information Center, to protect the Headwaters Forest.
    In its efforts to promote the Arts, the Columbia Foundation focused on programs that enhanced the quality of life and that were accessible and affordable for a broad and diverse public. The Foundation's grants supported art that encouraged civil awareness for the development of sustainable communities and economies and for the protection of human rights. As such, it funded programs that provided opportunities to artists from diverse cultures for the creation, development, performance, and exhibition in the performing, literary, and visual arts. The Foundation's support of programs in the San Francisco area and United Kingdom included grants to individual artists working in collaboration with communities and funding for the commissioning of over 30 new operas.
    In addition, the Columbia Foundation also used a portion of its resources to fund grants in fields of interest outside of its core guidelines. These grants were initiated by members of the Foundation's board of directors and focused on new and emerging issues, community institutions of historic interest, and philanthropy and the non-profit sector.
    Throughout its existence, the Columbia Foundation distributed nearly $85 million to various organizations in California, as well as nationally and internationally. The Columbia Foundation closed on November 30, 2013.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Columbia Foundation records document a history of charitable giving to organizations working in the areas of human rights, sustainable communities, food and farming, the environment, and arts and culture. The records consist primarily of grant-related materials and extensive background documents pertaining to individual grant-awarded programs, as well as various administrative and organizational files. The records are divided into two series:
    • Series I: Grant Files
    • Series II: Administrative Files
    The grant files represent the bulk of the collection and are comprised of materials documenting the solicitation, approval, and progress of individual Columbia Foundation grant-awarded programs of organizations working in the areas of human rights, sustainable communities, the environment, and arts and culture. In addition, the Foundation also focused its philanthropy on a myriad of other areas that reflected current conditions and opportunities - including agriculture and sustainable food, death penalty issues, the right to die, nuclear weapons, and various other community and social concerns. Grant files include: grantee solicitation letters and proposals, grantee program progress reports, grantee program overviews, grantor award letters and recommendations, and general grant-related correspondence.
    The administrative files consist of materials documenting the administrative and organizational functions of the Columbia Foundation. Administrative files include: minutes and dockets of the board of directors, constitutions, by-laws, committee and program reports, grant lists and authorizations, correspondence, and historical and general subject files. In addition, the administrative files also contain general publicity records - including press files, awards, conferences, and various media-related materials.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Columbia Foundation
    Columbia Foundation--Archives
    Russell, Madeleine Haas
    Haas family
    Philanthropists -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area
    Charities -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area
    Charities -- United Kingdom
    Jews -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area
    Environmentalists -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area
    University of California, Santa Cruz