News from Archives Special Collections

-Written by Steven Szegedi

Happy National Archives Month!

This year has proven an especially exciting one for Dominican University’s Archives and Special Collections. For an outside observer our activities may seem particularly quiescent – the website for the Archives has not been regularly updated, no brochures have been circulated in the past year, and there are no new finding aids available online. Yet this serenity masks the development of our programs and collecting activities which will, I expect, emerge within a flurry of activity come 2012.

While the school has supported a rare book and manuscript collection almost from the beginning, and an on campus archives since 1971, it was only in 2010 that the two entities were officially united into a single unit within the Rebecca Crown Library. Inventories of most every collection have been assembled. Innumerable records from the history of Rosary College and Dominican University have been discovered and collected. Our rare books are inventoried and in the process of being cataloged for online discovery. We’ve even discovered several books with fore-edge painting!

Gaps in our yearbook collection have been filled, and we an annual presence at our reunions. Faculty, staff and alumni have proven most helpful in identifying unknown people and events in our 20,000 item physical photographic print collection. Within the past year we have received several notable donations from alumni and their families. As our visibility on campus grows, we continue to receive new transfers and donations of materials almost daily. In addition to the new archival and museum studies certificate the Graduate School of Library and Information Science is offering, as well as a recent write-up in Dominican Magazine, we’ve also received notice by writers outside of Dominican. At least three separate
newspapers reported on our Noah Hart Papers. Perhaps most rewarding of all was our discovery of a rare photograph featuring Charles Kallal for a local blogger.

By 2012 we also hope to print our first ever catalog for Special Collections. This one will focus on the Mae Kennedy Kane Irish book Collection donated to us in 2010. There are some true treasures to be found among the Irish books, and we hope that the bibliography will encourage use of the materials while we continue to work to catalogue them. We also plan to produce a limited edition run of some 1970s posters designed by Patti Ellen Ricci, graduate of 1957, advertising Rosary College and its programs. Unfortunately she passed away last year; we hope to honor her memory with these posters for what is her 55th reunion year. These posters will be sold during reunion to benefit the Archives, which is now home to her graphic design collection encompassing her professional work for various Catholic institutions in the Chicagoland area as well as all her work in the 1970s for Rosary College.

You’ve likely seen our Civil War era letters from Noah Hart, and the Wilson A. Bentley Snowflake Collection. Soon we hope to add a few new digital collections as well in the coming months: images and transcripts from our Medieval manuscript collection; an exhibit of our letters to Justin Winsor in 1879 (the year of the American Library Associations’ incorporation) from an assortment of library luminaries such as Melvil Dewey, Samuel Green, and Charles Ammi Cutter;
and, an exhibit of our sheet music. For my next blog post I will feature our autograph letter by Saint Francis de Sales, just one of the hidden treasures in our collections.

Our special collections are open to all, not only during National Archives Month. Please contact me to schedule a visit, I’d be more than happy to give you a tour.


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