Acta Columbiana was Columbia's first sustained student news publication. Founded in 1868 as Cap and Gown, it served as an outlet for recording and commenting on college affairs, and literary expression. In 1873, when School of Mines students were allowed on the board for the first time, it adopted the name Acta Columbiana, under which it would publish for the remainder of its existence. Originally a monthly production appearing 10 times per year, production was upped to tri-weekly in 1877 in response to the founding of a fortnightly campus newspaper, the Spectator. The following year Acta increased production again to become a fortnightly publication as well, before subsequently falling back to tri-weekly publication until it was absorped into the Spectator in 1885. Ironically, the Spectator 's founders included two Acta editors who felt the campus could easily sustain both a monthly journal like Acta and a bi-weekly "news" publication. Perhaps Acta 's editors ambitions to be the publication-of-record on campus did them in.
Acta gained some notoriety on campus in 1876 when they boarded off a section of a coat-room and declared it their office, naming it "Maison de Punk" (yes, this was in 1876, not 1976). Despite the complaints of other students, the Acta founders persevered and kept their little slice of heaven.
Acta also inspired a somewhat lewd series of spoofs entitled Facta Columbinaria, which one commentator described as "[a] journal devoted to Expurgations." A total of three Facta issues were published; in January 1874, April 1874, and December 1876.
Acta was briefly revived in 1985 by Julius Genachowski CC 1985, a former member of Spectator's managing board, as a weekly paper to compete and with and complement Spec. His idea was "based on the simple notion that monopolies are bad." Fitting, since he would later serve a term as chairman of the FCC, a body that spends its time regulating monopolies. However, Genachowski's centennary revival was short lived. In October 1986, the editor in chief declared the enterprise "editorially bankrupt" and disbanded the publication after a series of editor resignations. Apparently running a paper is hard. Incidentally, it would be the revival of another once-defunct publication, The Blue and White, in the late 90s, which would establish a vehicle for in-depth writing that would spur the Spectator to innovate and launch The Eye. Competition is good, people.
- The Undergraduate Record Columbia College A Book of Statistical Information compiled by William S. Sloan (1881) pgs. 91-95
- A History of Columbia University 1754-1904 (1904) pgs. 178-180