New archives offer history of Mount Mercy from the beginning

On CampusSpring 2013

Mount Mercy University students, faulty, staff and alumni now have a way to access a plethora of the university’s history in just a single room.

This fall Mount Mercy opened an archives collection that dates back to 1905 in the lower level of Busse Library. The archives contain artifacts dating to the present that document Mount Mercy’s amazing history and transformation from an all-female academy to its proclamation as a university.

“One of the nice things we have is the ability to track the history of the school from a high school to a university,” said Librarian and Archivist Kristy Raine. “We can see the struggles the Sisters of Mercy overcame, and we can see the presidential history, committee activity, administrative reports, and accounts of student life.”

The archives are divided into a number of collections, including: documentary accounts, such as minutes and reports that chronicle the everyday operation of the university; images, newspaper articles, and media, such as audio visual films, videos and DVDs of events. Other pieces include artifacts, like uniforms and trophies, and rare books from the Sisters of Mercy Collection.

The collection of artifacts for the archives started long before the 2012 opening. Renate Bernstein, a member of the library in the 90’s, organized the archives by writing grants and collecting materials that exemplified the institution’s history. Before the archives opened in the former Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) in the lower level of Busse, the materials were stored in an array of filing cabinets scattered throughout the library, and what used to be a two-bedroom apartment. Soon the archives began to outgrow the space that was available. Raine wrote a competitive proposal to use the former ACE Center for public access to the archives, which was accepted.

“There were many proposals that were considered,” Raine said. “We are very lucky to have had ours prevail. It’s still pretty humbling for me to come in here and say, yes it’s here, this is the place.”

Raine said alumni contributions are always welcome and help ensure the continuation of the archives.

“I hope that before someone throws something away they will think, ‘Hey, maybe Kristy could use this for the archives,’” Raine said.

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