University Archives honor Fr. Hesburgh with new portal containing work from throughout his life
Lucas Masin-Moyer | Thursday, February 1, 2018
There is perhaps no figure whose image looms larger over Notre Dame than University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh.
To honor Hesburgh’s legacy — both at Notre Dame and in the world — the University Archives at the Hesburgh Library recently completed work on a new portal containing pieces related to his life and work.
Angela Fritz, the head of the University Archives, said the portal came together as part of an effort to show Hesburgh’s wide-ranging influence.
“The idea stemmed in part from highlighting the impact that Fr. Hesburgh has had on the history of the University, as well as his wide-ranging influence on social policies in both national and international contexts,” Fritz said in an email. “ … The project underscores Fr. Hesburgh’s personal connections — as he touched so many people in significant and compassionate ways throughout his life.”
The archive, which will contain “administrative records, speeches, audiovisual materials, photographs, printed materials, correspondence, oral histories, textiles and 3D artifacts,” is divided into “chapters” chronicling different parts of Hesburgh’s life. These chapters include, among others, “Academic Leadership,” “Life as a Holy Cross Priest” and “The Civil Rights Era.”
Fritz said the portal will help engage anyone who visits it with Hesburgh’s legacy.
“The portal is meant to connect with a wide array of virtual visitors and provide different levels of engagement with the purpose of expanding access and discoverability to Fr. Hesburgh’s papers while at the same time providing a better understanding of his impactful accomplishments and his continued relevance,” she said.
The various pieces came into the collection largely through Notre Dame’s record management program, Fritz said.
“Fr. Hesburgh’s papers comprise over 1,000 linear feet of material documenting his involvement in organizations such as the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the National Science Board, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Institute of International Education,” she said.
Fritz said she believed the portal presented those who engaged with it with a unique experience.
“[The portal is] distinctive from a digital exhibit,” she said. “This project is a ‘digital research portal.’ In this context, portal is defined as ‘a gateway’ or ‘an entry’ or ‘a starting point.’”
The digitization of these historic documents, Fritz said, supplements the Archives’ already large base of resources.
“While our print and analog materials remain vital and central to Hesburgh Libraries’ holdings, the shift toward digital access to these materials is not only transforming the nature of archival work, but also the varied and impactful ways that the University Archives can be used to connect with our campus community and beyond,” she said.
Fritz said the creation of the portal is just the beginning for the project.
“This project illustrates that digital access to the University Archives’ rich collections supports the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of academic inquiry, research and teaching initiatives,” she said. “This is a project that has only just begun — the portal will grow over time as Fr. Hesburgh’s materials continue to be digitized.”