Le Fer Hall

Collaboration: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods archives opens in Rooney Center

News | 09.19.2022

After more than a year of planning and construction, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Archives and the Sisters of Providence Archives moved to a new shared space as part of an ongoing collaboration between the two institutions.

The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Archives, which will house the collections of both institutions in the lower level of the Rooney Center, provides a newly renovated, expanded space, enhancing the protection and storage of documents, records, photos, publications, art and artifacts pertaining to the shared legacy and foundation of both the congregation and the College.

Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, ’74, general superior, said, “Since the days of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, who kept detailed journal entries and wrote extensive letters about the community’s early days, preserving the story of the mission of the Sisters of Providence has been seen as a sacred duty on our part. We are so grateful to our partners and friends at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for providing this new and extended resource to protect all these records and documents of enduring value and enable them to be shared with a wider audience.” 

“The history of the Sisters of Providence is the history of the College,” said Dottie King, Ph.D., president. “The College was founded by the sisters and is such an integral part of their legacy of education that it is impossible to separate the history of our two entities.”

King explained, “When the sisters needed a space for their archives as Owen Hall was being renovated to create the new St. Mary’s Senior Living, I offered a temporary solution until we could find a more permanent solution to bring their archives and ours together in one location. This new, larger, more functional space will be a win-win for both of our organizations and allow the College to honor our foundresses.”

The sister’s archives moved to Le Fer Hall in 2015 as a temporary location with the help of funding granted to the Sisters of Providence by the Indiana Historical Society. In 2021, the College secured a grant which enabled work to begin to create the shared permanent space. In addition to the grant, a bequest from Mary Gavin ’46 and John Crawford helped bring the project to fruition.

The renovation of the space included installing a new HVAC system with climate controls, removing the old ceiling and accordion-style room dividers, installing LED lights, upgrading technology and updating the restrooms. The renovated space, which was completed in August, provides approximately 4,500 square feet of archival space and a few new features: a research room, director’s office and showcase space.

Janet Gilligan, SP, ‘61 and Alice Quinlan, ‘65, in the new shared archives space.

Janet Gilligan, SP, ‘61, the archivist for the Sisters of Providence collection, believes this new space will allow the sisters and the College to offer exhibits and programs and thus share more of the history of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods with the public.

“The new space also enhances our ability to be of service,” she said. “We are the source of information for many avenues of people. We receive almost daily requests from researchers, people working on dissertations, or families working on genealogies. Some people come for a day, and others stay for a month.”

“The new collaboration this common space makes possible will benefit both institutions,” said Alice Quinlan, ‘65, and a volunteer for the College collection. “We will work together more closely to preserve and share our common heritage.”

The Sisters of Providence and SMWC are planning to host an open house of the space later this fall for the campus and the Wabash Valley community.

The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Archives is located on the lower level of the Rooney Center. The archives’ shared space is open for researchers by appointment. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • For questions about the College collections, please contact archives@smwc.edu or leave a message at 812-535-1156.
  • For questions about the Sisters of Providence collections, please contact archives@spsmw.org,

leave a message at 812-535-2881 or visit the congregation’s website.