From the Archives: Alumni Donations

Author: University Archives

Cnds Burkert 03Pen and ink sketch of a Walsh Hall dorm room interior by Arthur Burkert, 1928/1126.

Many of the treasures that can be found within the Notre Dame Archives were acquired by way of alumni donations. The items we receive from alumni are invaluable because they allow us to view Notre Dame through the eyes of its students.  The Archives routinely collects records from university offices across campus that describe Notre Dame history from the perspective of faculty and university administration, but letters, journals, sketches, scrapbooks, and photos that tell the story of the average Notre Dame student are considerably more difficult to come by.


Alumni are often surprised to learn that their personal belongings are of interest to the Archives, especially if they believe they have not made a significant mark on Notre Dame history. But the Archives aims to understand everyday life on campus and to provide an authentic and accurate representation of the Notre Dame experience — and capturing the voices of the typical people that walk the sidewalks here is the best way to do it. Personal belongings can tell us a great deal about how students spent their time, what responsibilities and pressures they were dealing with, how they responded to national events, and the changes they witnessed during their time at Notre Dame.


Earlier this year, the Archives received a binder of sketches belonging to Arthur “Art” Burkert ’30. Art was a resident of Walsh Hall, and his binder contained several pencil and ink drawings completed in 1928 of his dorm room, as well as watercolor maps of campus and blueprints. Interior images of residence halls are rare, and images that reveal how students lived within each hall are even rarer. The contents of Art’s binder offer a glimpse into the private life of a student. They also provide insight into what Art was being taught in his courses. One could speculate why these illustrations were created in the first place. Were they a class assignment? Did Art simply like to draw? Thanks to the generosity of Art’s daughter, Brigid Metcalfe ’78, his binder is available for researchers to study for years to come.


Every donation begins with a conversation with an archivist, be it over the phone, through email correspondence, or in person — campus event weekends like reunion, graduation and football games are opportune times to contact the Archives about potential donations — and items can be donated either in person or by mail. Donations of sweaters, uniforms, monograms, and ephemera such as ticket stubs, flyers, and pamphlets are all encouraged. When gifting materials to the ND Archives, your records can appreciated by the larger public, can be used to learn about Notre Dame history, and are guaranteed to be cared for.


From the Archives is written by the staff of the University of Notre Dame Archives highlighting notable pieces from their collection. Through its rich historical resources, the University Archives provides campus, national and international communities with a broad historical focus on the evolution of the University of Notre Dame, its contributions to higher education, and its place in history.