The recently created University archives have opened in the former
Layton Gallery in the basement of Clare Hall. Materials are being
accepted from throughout the University and beyond, according to Sister
Margaret Ruddy, OSF, archivist.
Stritch President Dr. Helen Sobehart announced the creation of the
archives at her first State of the University address last fall. She
also announced that Ruddy would transition from her longtime role in the
library to become the archivist, providing intimate knowledge of
University history, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and special
cataloging and archiving techniques honed over many years in her
“My goal is to tell the history of the University from a different perspective,” said Ruddy.
“People don’t often look back in time to understand the present and
plan for the future, but it can be very useful, especially with more
than 70 years of history.”
Though she admits that she will be as much a detective as an
archivist during the first years of the archives, Ruddy is already hard
at work sorting and saving the materials she has collected from across
the University. She is working on a University timeline that marks
significant moments in Stritch’s history, as well as scanning and
cataloging photographs dating back to when the original Sisters arrived
in St. Francis from Bavaria.
Items already housed in the archives include photographs,
presidential papers, yearbooks, gifts from past Franciscan pilgrims,
newspaper clippings, architectural drawings and budgets, annual reports,
back issues of Stritch Magazine and student newspapers, and more. Among
the treasures is a pristine copy of the 1937-38 St. Clare College
Bulletin, which served as the school’s very first course catalog.
“I’m starting with the things that have stopped,” said Ruddy of her
first priorities in the archives, such as the printed student newspaper,
yearbooks, literary magazines and other past publications. “I’m
scanning everything I can, so that we have a digital record. Many
photographs and documents have begun to deteriorate, and it would be a
shame to lose them forever.”
Ruddy plans to eventually have display cases in the archives and
around campus that highlight various areas of the University. She is
also developing a query form to send to University colleges and
departments, and welcomes anyone with institutional knowledge and spare
time to stop by and offer assistance on identifying people in
photographs and sharing stories. She plans to tap fellow Sisters to
help, as well as Jubilarians who were students at St. Clare College.
Any alumni or friends of Stritch who have materials they think might
be appropriate for the archives are encouraged to send them to Ruddy or
contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (414) 410-4260. She encourages
people not to “edit” first or throw anything away.
“Just send what you have and I can sort it out,” she said. “There’s
so much history in the little things that we wouldn’t want to miss!”