Access to the Twin Study Records in the Viola W. Bernard Papers

Under terms of the deed of gift reached between Columbia University and the Estate of Viola W. Bernard, those materials in her papers that relate to her involvement in the Twin Study headed by Peter Neubauer of the Child Development Center were to be closed until January 1, 2021. 

In accordance with the agreement, Columbia University is opening these records for research with safeguards for the privacy of the subjects.  

Records Subject to this Policy

The Twin Study records can be found in Boxes 74-76, and 77 (folders 1-4) of the Viola W. Bernard Papers.  They include correspondence, records of funding and finances, minutes of the Louise Wise Services’ Adoption Study Committee, and a great deal of published material, mainly newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and scientific articles.   Apart from the publications, to which access is freely available, access to these records will be subject to certain privacy requirements.

The Twins Study records in the Bernard Papers do not include individual files on the subjects.  While information on subjects can be found throughout the records, they are not segregated by name. In addition, during the organization of the papers prior to their receipt by the University, much of the personal information in the records was redacted.  The individual subject files are now held at Yale University as part of the Adoption Study Records of the Child Development Center.

Terms of Access

Researchers must make an appointment to view the records at least a day in advance: there will be no walk-ins allowed. 

Upon arriving all researchers must complete and sign the Archives & Special Collections Patron Registration Form and follow the rules and regulations it details.

Apart from those researchers wishing only to access the published materials, all researchers desiring to use the materials in Boxes 74-76, Box 77, folders 1-4, must complete and sign the department’s Agreement for Researcher Access to Records Containing Confidential Information and the Columbia University Medical Center’s Certification to Permit Access to Archival Information. 

These agreements require researchers wishing to access and use records containing confidential information held by Archives & Special Collections to certify that names and other personally identifying information will not be used or disclosed, including through the taking of notes or in any publications.  Identifying information that may not be used or disclosed is listed on the Certification to Permit Access to Archival Information and includes any identifying numbers (e.g., social security, medical record), dates (including birthdates or dates of service) and demographic information (e.g., street address, zip code).

Because subject personal and health information is found throughout these records, the only way we can allow access to these records is through researchers’ strict adherence to these access requirements to protect the privacy of the subjects.  Those found to have violated these rules may be banned from further access to the Archives & Special Collections.