Loyola University Chicago

University Archives & Special Collections

History of the Loyola university archives

The University Archives was originally founded in 1938 when John Mortell, S.J., noticed that the university's history, and more specifically the history of the Jesuits who founded and ran Loyola, was disappearing. Inspired by the history he saw while serving in Europe as a chaplain during World War I, Mortell began collecting the records of the University from his fellow Jesuits and created the first plan for a University Archives.















In 1938 Mortell was appointed as the first University Archivist. Unfortunately his tenure was short due to his sudden death in 1940.












Following the passing of Father Mortell, William Kane, S.J., University Librarian, took up the responsibility of collecting University records for the archives. Again, the effort to preserve the University's history was cut short following the death of Fr. Kane in 1946. However it is thanks to Fathers Mortell and Kane that much of Loyola's early history has been preserved.











For many years following Fr. Kane's death the effort to preserve Loyola's history was guided by an archives committee. It wasn't until 1982 that the University Archives was officially established as a department of the Loyola Libraries. In 1980 Brother Michael Grace, S.J. became the University Archivist, a position he held until his death in 2002. Br. Grace expanded the collections at the archives through an active outreach program to University departments. He was successful in making the records and papers in the archives more accessible to researchers and promoting their use in classes.









In 1984, Valerie Gerrard Browne joined the University Archives as Assistant Archivist, a position she held until 1994 when she became the founding archivist/director of the Women and Leadership Archives.