The archives holds source materials that support teaching, learning, and research at DePaul: 12,000 volumes of special collections and rare books; 3,000 feet of materials from the histories of the university and local community organizations; personal papers; and Vincentian collections. Faculty members from all over the university use these materials to enhance the classroom experience.
“When I developed a course on the history of the Vincentians in China, the primary sources in the archives brought home to my students the fact that historical inquiry is an active and ongoing process,” says Warren Schultz, professor, History, and associate dean, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
“Each student selected a letter written by one of the priests, prepared a critical edition of the letter, and provided in-depth annotations for every topic raised by the letter’s contents. This exercise helped them realize that ‘history’ is not all known and set down in textbooks.” In his new Focal Point seminar on the Thousand and One Nights, Schultz is giving his students ‘hands-on’ (literally) experience working with multiple, early versions of the text.
James Krokar, associate professor and associate chair, History, uses the archive map collection in two courses — one a focal point class, the other an advanced history class:
“We look at old maps to figure out not the ‘what’ but the ‘why’: the important question is not ‘which map is better for finding the way?’ but rather ‘what do different maps tell us about the times, the cartographer, and the society?’ For example, John Smith’s early maps of Virginia were among only a few to acknowledge content from the Native Americans – that tells us a lot about him. Our collection in the archives has some real gems.  To touch a map is to touch history, and our students find that a little thrilling."
Of course, the wonders in the archives are also worth seeking out just for fun!

Social justice collections

Sr. Helen Prejean spent 30 years crusading for the abolition of capital punishment. Her personal papers, currently displayed in a special exhibit, include letters, speeches, photos and other artifacts, as well as the manuscripts for her books The Death of Innocents and Dead Man Walking — the latter a best-selling account of Prejean’s spiritual relationship with a Louisiana death-row inmate and the basis of an Oscar-winning 1996 film. (Also, in the archives, the boots and belt worn by Sean Penn in the movie).
From 2002 to 2004, Anne M. Burke — Justice, Illinois Appellate Court — chaired the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People (NRB), which was formed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to study issues raised in the clergy sex abuse scandal. The collection includes meeting minutes, press coverage, annual reports, correspondence, speeches, and audit information. Much addresses Catholic Church rules and regulations, privacy laws, legal standards, and specifics of cases.
The papers of Phillip Berrigan, a former Catholic priest, and his wife, Elizabeth McAlister, provide insights into the histories of nonviolent resistance and the Catholic peace movement, as well as aspects of the Catholic Worker movement. The collection includes Philip’s correspondence from prison and Liz McAlister’s trial diaries and letters.


Imprints. Children’s Catholic Magazine is a monthly journal published in 1837 containing religious and moral teachings, biographies of Catholics, and scientific and miscellaneous extracts. Given the small format of the magazine, its inexpensive production, and its audience of children, this title is rarely found.

Travel collections. Among more than 300 historic travel literature books, a highlight is a work by humanist George Sandys (1578-1644) who chronicled his journey through Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and the Holy Land between 1610 and 1615. The 2nd edition in the archives contains engravings and a fold-out map. Also fascinating is Travels (1799) by Issac Weld from Dublin, who spent two years traveling in the US and Canada partly as an adventure and partly as research into countries suitable for the Irish emigration.

Prison narratives. The use of lurid tales about criminal activities to excite and generate curiosity is not new: accounts of crimes, prisoners, and executions span the ages. The collection of prison narratives includes reports of capital trials, as well as satirical legal pieces, by British journalist, Pierce Egan (1772–1849). His published report of the trial of John Thurtell and Joseph Hunt entertained Regency England with juicy courtroom melodrama. Engravings show scenes of the crime, the discovery, and the execution.

Emmy winners

The archives hold two collections of former students in The Theatre School — one an actress and one a costume designer — including their actual Emmy awards.
Lois Nettleton (1927-2008) had a long and varied career in theater, television, and film. Her Broadway debut was in The Biggest Thief in Town in 1949. Her first film role was Period of Adjustment in 1962. She won two Emmys: one for The American Woman: Portraits of Courage (1976) and one for Insight: A Gun for Mandy (1982-1983). The Lois Nettleton collection includes photos, annotated scripts, and her performance notes, as well as VHS recordings of some of her performances.
Bill Hargate (1935-2003) was a costume designer for stage and screen. In the early 1960s, he designed costumes for the St Louis Municipal Opera, while also working on Broadway. In 1968, he moved to Los Angeles to work on the film Star! Once in Hollywood, he worked for NBC studios, winning four Emmys, including one for as costume designer for the TV series Murphy Brown. This collection includes his designs for stage and screen productions, often with swatches of fabric and notes.

Correspondence from the China missions

In 1923, the first priests from the Congregation of the Mission arrived in China. Their missionary work ended abruptly in 1951 when foreign religious were expelled from the country. This collection includes reference files, memorabilia, textiles, photos, and film (both home movies and commercial productions of the Vincentian Foreign Missions, as well as some US footage), as well as letters documenting the experiences of the Vincentian priests who served far away from home.

Small maps collection

Among the 350 individual maps in the archives is John Ogilby’s, The Road from Exeter to Truroe, part of a large atlas published in 1675. The map shows 73 major roads and cross-roads, detailing directions between destinations, as well as illustrating hedges, walls, inns, and other local landmarks — like a 17th century version of MapQuest and then some. The Britannia was the first national road atlas in Western Europe; its maps were the first to be prepared to scale (one inch to a mile).

Another extraordinary map was part of the atlas, Cosmographia (1540). Illustrated with woodcut pictures, the atlas was an encyclopedia of the world as Europeans knew it. Sebastian Münster was the first to make separate maps of each continent and list his sources: other maps, books, and explorers’ reports. His map of Africa shows that the land extended beyond the limits of Ptolemy, while still including many myths of the little explored continent, such as the one-eyed people (the Monoculi).

United Nations Yugoslavia Commission (M. Cherif Bassiouni papers)

In 1992, M. Cherif Bassiouni served as chairman of the UN Commission of Experts investigating war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia during its civil war. In this role, he led a group of DePaul law students (and others) in compiling a database of 65,000 pages of war crime evidence, reports, and affidavits. As a result of this work, an International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia was convened to prosecute violators of international humanitarian laws — the first special tribunal since Nuremberg and Tokyo.

The San Quentin Drama Workshop

In 1955, Rick Cluchey was sent to San Quentin Prison where, two years later, he saw a performance of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. He was inspired to form the San Quentin Drama Workshop. After his release in 1966, Cluchey continued the Workshop. A few years later, he wrote to Beckett for advice in staging Endgame in Paris. As a result, Beckett and Cluchey began an artistic collaboration. The collection includes their correspondence, as well as materials from Workshop performances, play scripts, memorabilia, and even a pair of Beckett’s slippers.

Letters of Mary Alice McWhinnie

DePaul Biology faculty member, Mary Alice McWhinnie, was one of the first women to spend an entire winter in Antarctica. Internationally renowned for her work with krill, a tiny crustacean that flourishes in the Antarctic waters, McWhinnie spent much of 1974 at an isolated research station on McMurdo Sound. In the archives is a rich record of her experience there — beyond her scientific publications are lengthy letters (one is 46 pages long!) to friends and family, as well as photos.

La Leche League papers

In 1956, seven mothers formed a group to provide information about breastfeeding and give support to those who wanted it. La Leche League quickly became a national, and then an international, organization. In the archive collection are publications, photos, correspondence between worried mothers and the physicians who (along with the League) bucked the establishment trend, and memorabilia from the League’s 1971 conference (attended by Princess Grace of Monaco).

University artifacts and memorabilia

The following information is from a blog “Bygone DePaul: The College Theater” and “Bygone DePaul: The Lyceum” by Lizzy Boden.

The College Theater was designed in 1907 by John Pridmore; it followed the Grecian style, with a large dome and no pillars to obstruct anyone’s view of the stage. The Vincentians were criticized for “worldly activities” but they believed that students were edified by the “highest and best drama” (free, of course, from “murder, suicide, and kissing”). With the advent of World War I, the building was turned into barracks for the Student Army Training Corps. After that, it became a gymnasium: the #0080c0 Demon basketball team played there from 1920 to 1957. Two tiles from the Theater are in the archives.
The Lyceum opened in 1907, “distinctively” furnished and used by DePaul’s clubs for meetings and parties. The building also held the College Grill, a fancy restaurant meant to serve patrons of the College Theater next door. Over time, the Lyceum served many academic uses: from 1912 to 1930, it housed the School of Music and in 1930 it held the Liberal Arts library (on the second floor) and the president’s offices (on the first floor). The Lyceum was razed in 1987; a piece of decorative plaster is in the archives.