This archive brings together published and unpublished written and visual materials found in different archives and libraries pertaining to Robert College, American Girls' College and Boğaziçi University. The current collection consists of four main sections: Archives of Robert College and the American College of Girls, Prime Ministry Archives of the Ottoman Empire (İstanbul), Archives of the Republic of Turkey (Ankara), and printed resources. Considering the difficulties of bringing together the materials pertaining to these institutions that are centuries old and are still active, whose effects are dispersed in a wide geographical area and whose histories are intricately interwoven, it should be emphasized that this collection is still in the construction phase and that it will grow in the future with continuous additions.
Today, the most comprehensive and systematic archives on Robert College are in Columbia University’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, New York. Boğaziçi University's application to the Robert College Board of Trustees regarding the purchase of a digital copy of this archive has been accepted, and the protocol was signed on December 20, 2013 for the procurement of a digital copy of all documents up to September 10, 1971 (Boğaziçi University’s founding date) has been made official. The library contains more than 150,000 written documents and visual materials on Robert College and the American College for Girls, covering the period from the 1850s to September 10, 1971. Besides the documents on these two institutions, the collection also includes the personal documents of important figures from Robert College and the American College for Girls, such as Cyrus Hamlin, Christopher R. Robert, George Washburn, Caleb Gates, Mary Millis Patrick and Caraline Borden. Where as the first documents pertaining to Cyrus Hamlin go back to the 1830s, documents of some important names such as Caleb Gates and Mary Mills Patrick, who did not cut their ties with old colleagues and students, cover the retirement years of these individuals. Most of the documents in this collection were produced in İstanbul and New York, and they contain detailed observations and comments on current political issues, as well as the direct administrative, financial and educational affairs of these two colleges. These documents contain interpretations on many important topics such as the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877–78, the two world wars, the rise of the nationalist and separatist movements in the Ottoman Empire and modernization policies of the Republic, and thus are important historical sources for the study of the late Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Reports on college principals’ visits to Europe and the Middle East and photographs portraying the social life in these two institutions enrich this archive.
Robert College graduates had influenced the formation of dozens of nation-states born out of the Ottoman Empire. In this context, Robert College's role in the political and cultural transformations of Bulgaria in the 20th century is significant and fundamental. Bulgarian students constituted the largest student group of the school from 1870 until 1890. Among Bulgarian graduates, there are two prime ministers, twelve ministers, dozens of deputies, and hundreds of intellectuals, writers and thinkers. Robert College, and to a lesser extent the American College for Girls, pioneered the education and cultivation of a political and intellectual circle that redefined independent Bulgaria’s relations with Europe and the rest of the world. Archival documents from these institutions are now in the Bulgarian State Archives and the Bulgarian National Library. Through these documents brought to Boğaziçi University, it is possible to trace the ties of the Bulgarian students studying at the College even after their graduation.
Archival materials pertaining to Robert College, American College for Girls and Boğaziçi University that are at the Prime Ministry Archives of the Ottoman Empire (İstanbul) and the Archives of Republic of Turkey (Ankara) have been collected, catalogued and digitized. Approximately 600 files were gathered together from these archives. The documents in this archive, dating since the establishment of Robert College in 1950s, shed light on a variety of subjects, such as correspondence between government officials and administrators, regulations on the type of educational system that will be implemented in these colleges, documents pertaining to the travel, research and residence permits of lecturers and students, records of students including exam papers and notes on their political activities, intelligence and police records as well as documents on the transformation of Robert College into Boğaziçi University.
In addition to these three archives, news and essays published on Robert College, the American College for Girls and Bosphorus University in national and international media, and academic work on the history of the institutions are brought together to serve researchers. At this stage of the project, news and commentary from international newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times and National Geographic, as well as Ottoman and Republican periodicals, are compiled and digital copies are taken. Books, memoirs, articles and theses written about Robert College, Boğaziçi University and the history of Ottoman and Turkish education in a broader sense are also brought together to be provided to the researchers.