Guide to the University Archives

University Archives

The Georgetown University Archives attempts to acquire, preserve, and provide access to records that document the history and development of the university and its constituent parts. Georgetown was among the first American colleges to establish a repository for historical records.

The archives was established by resolution of the Board of Directors as early as 1816, and an officially designated archivist has been in place since 1898; this longevity has facilitated the development of an unusually rich archival collection dating from 1786--even before the founding in 1789--to the present. The official university records have been enriched by gifts of papers, photographs, and memorabilia from private individuals that do much to flesh out the history of the university.

Because of its age, because it is a Jesuit institution, and because it was the first Catholic foundation for higher education in the United States, Georgetown has been studied from various points of view by a series of educational historians. Also, certain groups of records have direct importance for research beyond the scope of educational history. These would include the extensive and detailed financial records of the university, dating back to the eighteenth century; scientific records of the University Observatory and its astronomical activities, 1843-1972; records of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and particularly of its Center for Bioethics; the audio tapes and transcriptions of the more than 1,000 programs produced by the Georgetown University Radio/TV Forum; the unusually good documentation of sports education and teams, also dating from as far back as the eighteenth century; and the extensive archives photographic collections, which document university and community life from the 1850s to the present.

All published documents housed in the University Archives are open for use. Unpublished documents are governed by the following use restrictions: unpublished material dating from 1971 and later may only be consulted with the permission of the office which created it; unpublished material dating from 1970 or before may be used with the permission of the Archivist or the creating office, unless otherwise restricted.

Archives Subject Files

Until 1971, the University Archives maintained most of its holdings in a subject-based filing system. This makes it difficult to describe the collection by office of origin as is traditional at most American archival repositories. A substantial portion of these records derive from the office of the president, though virtually all university offices are represented. Records in the collection date from 1787 to the present.

Especially substantive materials survive from presidential terms of the following:

Thomas Mulledy, S.J., 1829-1837, 1845-1848;
Patrick F. Healy, S.J., 1874-1882;
J. Havens Richards, S.J., 1888-1898;
Coleman Nevils, S.J., 1928-1935;
Hunter Guthrie, S.J., 1949-1952;
Edward Bunn, S.J., 1952-1964;
and Gerard J. Campbell, S.J., 1964-1968.

Among the more important subjects represented are the following:

Academic Departments - 1874-1970 * 4.00 linear feet
Admissions Office - 1941-1971 * 1.00 linear foot
Alumni Association - 1881-1970 * 9.50 linear feet
Archdiocesan correspondence -ca. 1870-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Association of American Colleges - 1894-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Athletics - 1866-1970 * 16.50 linear feet Board of Regents - 1923-1970 * 0.50 linear foot
Buildings (Georgetown University) - 1798-1970 * 3.00 linear feet
Bunn, Edward, S.J. - 1929-1970 * 2.00 linear feet
Business School - 1937-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Center for Strategic and International Studies - ca. 1960-1970 * 0.50 linear foot
College of Arts and Sciences - ca. 1820-1970 * 4.00 linear feet
Colleges and Universities: Correspondence, etc. - 1850-1970 * 12.00 linear feet
Consortium of Universities, Washington, D.C. - 1961-1970 * 1.50 linear feet
Debating societies:
• Gaston-White Debating Society - 1922-1970 * 0.50 linear foot
• Phileleutherian Debating Society - 1837-1838 * 0.25 linear foot
• Philodemic Debating Society - 1831-1970 * 5.50 linear feet
• Philonomosian Debating Society - 1845-1935 * 1.50 linear feet
Dental School - 1897-1970 * 1.50 linear feet
Development Office - 1947-1970 * 2.00 linear feet
Dramatic societies - 1853-1970 * 2.50 linear feet
Embassy file - 1890-1970 * 4.50 linear feet
Endowment - 1916-1950 * 0.50 linear foot
Faculty information file - ca. 1880-1970 * 34.50 linear feet
Georgetown at Fribourg Program - 1950-1971 * 1.00 linear foot
Georgetown College Journal Records - 1870-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Georgetown degree data - 1797-1970 * 0.75 linear foot
Georgetown Preparatory School - 1889-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Georgetown University Banker's Forum - 1953-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Georgetown University Hospital - 1898-1970 * 3.00 linear feet
Graduate School - 1891-1970 * 4.00 linear feet
Holy Rood Cemetery - ca. 1830-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Institute of Ethnic Studies - 1954-1961 * 0.50 linear foot
Intercollegiate debating activity - 1894-1970 * 0.50 linear foot
Jesuit Educational Association - 1929-1970 * 6.00 linear feet
Kober Lectures - 1923-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Law School - 1870-1970 * 6.00 linear feet
Libraries - 1796-1970 * 8.00 linear feet
Medical School - 1948-1970 * 6.00 linear feet
Mid-states accreditation reports - 1951-1980 * 1.50 linear feet
Musical societies and performances - 1852-1970 * 3.50 linear feet
Nursing School - 1906-1970 * 2.50 linear feet
Peace Corps - 1961-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
Phi Beta Kappa - 1962-1970 * 3.50 linear feet
President's Council - 1949-1966 * 0.50 linear foot
Press relations - 1932-1970 * 0.75 linear foot
Radio-TV - 1930-1970 * 1.00 linear foot
ROTC (and its predecessors) - 1860-1970 * 5.00 linear feet
Scholarships and Fellowships Data - 1900-1970 * 0.50 linear foot
School for Summer and Continuing Education - 1914-1970 * 3.00 linear feet
School of Foreign Service - 1918-1970 * 4.50 linear feet
School of Languages and Linguistics - 1949-1970 * 3.00 linear feet
Sodality - ca. 1831-1970 * 2.00 linear feet
Student activities - 1920-1970 * 3.50 linear feet
Student government - 1939-1970 * 2.00 linear feet
University statistics - 1889-1970 * 1.50 linear feet
Writer's Conference - 1960-1970 * 5.00 linear feet


Minutes of the Board of Directors

Minutes of the governing board of Georgetown University. These minutes are not particularly detailed until modern times. For supporting documentation, see the records of the secretary of the university in the papers of the president's office. Restricted. Access may be granted by the secretary of the university. 1797-1815, and 1844 to date * 4.00 linear feet

House Diary and Consultors' Books

It is the custom of Jesuit institutions to maintain an official diary of the house. Depending on the temperament of the man appointed to keep the diary, this may be informative or non-committal. The Jesuit rule also provides for a formal advisory body known as the consultors. Their records are kept together with the house diaries. 1828-1966 * 3.00 linear feet

Rector's Entrance Books

In the last century, it was customary for the president to examine each candidate for admission and to record in this series of ledgers the terms of admission. The content varies over time, but might include the name of the person paying student expenses, any special arrangements for tuition payments, a listing of extra classes to be given, and a mention of items brought to school, such as a spoon and bedding. A number of other nineteenth century volumes recording student data are filed with this series. 1809-1897 * 2.00 linear feet

Office of the President: Richards

Letter press copy books from the administration of J. Havens Richards, S.J. Other records of this administration will be found throughout the subject files. 1888-1898 * 6.25 linear feet

Office of the President: Henle

Records of the administration of Robert J. Henle, S.J. These records provide extensive documentation of the history of the university during a major transitional period. During this time the university faced extensive administrative reorganization, along with student unrest and great social change. 1968-1976 * 127.50 linear feet

Office of the President: Healy

Records of the administration of Timothy S. Healy, S.J. During this administration, the university grew dramatically in academic reputation as well as in the extent of its physical plant. These records reflect the major role that the president's office plays in all phases of university governance. 1976-1989 * 235.50 linear feet

Office of the President: O'Donovan

Records of the administration of Leo O'Donovan, S.J. This period has seen much elaboration of the administrative structure of the university. 1989 to date * 234.00 linear feet

Office of the Chancellor

The title of chancellor was given to Edward Bunn, S.J., following his term as president. These office files and other records primarily document Bunn's extensive fundraising activities. 1964-1972 * 20.00 linear feet

Office of the University Vice-President

Created in 1991, this office is charged with oversight of the day-to-day operation of the university. Its records reflect the University Vice-President's involvement in most major decisions affecting the Main Campus as well as the Law and Medical Centers. 1991 to date * 27.00 linear feet

Alumni Subject Series

Correspondence, clippings, and personal data relating to individual alumni, mostly from the president's office. Includes some student essays, speeches, and letters home to parents or siblings. ca. 1820-1970 * 50.00 linear feet


The Classical Journal of Georgetown College

This ledger records basic academic information from 1816 to 1870 (with some gaps). It includes class assignments, records of disciplinary proceedings, grades, and commentary on examinations. 1816-1870 * 1 volume

Records of the Prefect of Schools

These records include diaries, examination subjects, and theses for disputation. 1869-1928 * 4.50 linear feet

Records of the Prefect of Discipline

Primarily lists orders of the day, but includes some records of disciplinary proceedings and some listings of special events, such as athletic scores. 1885-1951 * 4.50 linear feet

Office of the Provost

The position now called Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Provost was established in 1955 under the title Academic Vice-President. Officers have included Brian McGrath, S.J., Thomas Fitzgerald, S.J., Aloysius Kelley, S.J., Edmund Ryan, S.J., Donald Freeze, S.J., Patrick Heelan, S.J., and Richard Schwartz (twice, acting). 1955 to date * 286.00 linear feet

Commencement Subject Files

Records from various university offices relating to the annual commencement exercises, including programs, lists, invitations, speech texts, news clippings, and some relevant photographs. 1801 to date * 20.50 linear feet

University Catalogues and Prospectuses

The university published its first formal catalogue in 1851. A series of brief separately printed prospectuses served much the same function from 1798 until then. 1798 to date * 41.00 shelf feet


Financial Records Series

Over 125 surviving ledgers detailing the business affairs of the college in the nineteenth century. The college managed spending money for individual students at this time, and thus we have detailed records of the expenses of an education at Georgetown. 1787-ca. 1910 * 36.00 linear feet

Office of the Vice-President for Financial Affairs and Treasurer

General office records. 1974-77 * 6.00 linear feet

Wills Files

These include an old archives subject file, 1800-1970, and alphabetical file from the treasurer's office, 1880 to date, but with the bulk of the materials dating from 1950 to the present. 1800 to date * 6.50 linear feet

Property File

Old archives subject file. Includes correspondence, tax data, and, where applicable, sales data. 1789-1970 * 2.00 linear feet

Office of the Vice-President for Administration

Office records from the administrations of Daniel J. Altobello, William Miller, Charles Meng, and successors. The records of this office often include information on a wider range of university activity than would be expected, especially in the period 1976-1989. 1976 to date * 130.50 linear feet


Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Office records, including minutes, examinations, syllabi, and correspondence. Includes particularly extensive records on the World War II Army Student Training Program. Also includes grade books from the period 1905-1925. 1905-1925; 1939-1965 * 55.00 linear feet

Dean of the Graduate School

General office records. ca. 1950-1983 * 34.50 linear feet

Dean of the School for Summer and Continuing Education

General office records. ca. 1955-1970 * 18.00 linear feet

Medical School Faculty Minutes

Detailed minutes, including faculty appointments, policy discussions, records of student affairs. 1848-1870; 1890-1931 * 3.00 linear feet

Dean of the Nursing School

General office records. ca. 1950 to date * 106.50 linear feet


Center for Strategic and International Studies

Records of conferences and publications of the center's office of public affairs, including about 50 audio tapes of conference proceedings. ca. 1972-1985 * 27.00 linear feet

Kennedy Center for Ethics

Includes the earliest records of the Center for Biomedical Ethics. ca. 1972-1978 * 27.00 linear feet

Athletic Department

Office records, including correspondence, contracts, and programs of various athletic events. Supplemented by a large number of films and videotapes of athletic contests, particularly basketball games played in the past two decades. ca. 1950-1995 * ca. 16.50 linear feet

Public Relations Department

Office records, including reference files, community relations programs, and press contacts. 1975 to date * 28.50 linear feet

Georgetown University Faculty Senate

Minutes, planning documents, and related materials. 1960 to date * 2.50 linear feet

Department of History

Records of the NDEA Institute in History, a summer institute for high school history teachers. 1965-69 * 4.50 linear feet

Raymond Reiss Studio Special Events Series

Audio tape recordings of events at Georgetown. Includes commencements and student activities, along with speeches and discussions presented at Georgetown. Speakers include: Abba Eban, Walter Reuther, John Glenn, Kurt Kiesinger, V.K. Menon, Eunice Shriver, Roy Wilkins, McGeorge Bundy, and Etienne Gilson, among many others. Approximately 1,000 tapes. 1949-1970

Georgetown University Radio Forum

Audio tape recordings and office records from the public affairs radio show produced by Georgetown. Participants include numerous Georgetown students and faculty as well as notables such as Richard Nixon, William C. Bullitt, Eduardo Frei, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Eugene J. McCarthy. Approximately 1,500 tapes. 1949-1972

Georgetown College Observatory Records

Records of observations, diaries, correspondence, and photographs. Includes records of several solar eclipse expeditions in which Observatory staff took part. 1831-1971 * 37.00 linear feet

Georgetown College Seismological Observatory Records

Records of observations, diaries, correspondence, and relevant photographs. 1905-1971 * 2.00 linear feet

University Photographer Files

35mm black and white negatives, some with proof sheets, and 35mm color transparencies from the official university photographer. Includes athletic events, portraits, special events including commencements, speeches, and other documentation of university life. In all, more than 100,000 images. 1975 to date

University Archives Photographic Files

The collection includes portrait files, group files, and subject files. The earliest photo in the collection is a daguerreotype of T. Meredith Jenkins, S.J., who died in 1850. Photographers represented include most Washington commercial firms, including Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Rice Brothers, Schutz photographers, and Harris and Ewing. In all, more than 30,000 black and white prints and negatives. 1849 to date

Georgetown University Machine Translation Project

Records of one of the pioneering American efforts in machine translation. ca. 1959-1965 * 18.00 linear feet

Georgetown University Turkish Language Program

Records of a project to promote basic literacy in Turkey, cosponsored by the Agency for International Development. 1955-1960 * 1.50 linear feet


Georgetown University Serial Publications File

Includes the principle continuing university publications, such as The Georgetown Magazine, The Hoya, The Voice, The New Press, and The Georgetown Law Weekly, together with their predecessors and numerous other inactive or occasional publications. 1870 to date * 170.00 linear feet

Georgetown University Copyright File

Copies of books and pamphlets copyrighted and/or published in the name of Georgetown University or any of its subdivisions. 1852 to date * 40.50 linear feet

Georgetown University Centennial Celebration

Correspondence, invitations, speeches, programs, and related business records. 1888-1889 * 1.50 linear feet

Georgetown University Sesquicentennial Celebration

Correspondence, invitations, speeches, programs, and related business records. 1939 * 3.00 linear feet

Georgetown University 175th Anniversary Celebration

Correspondence, invitations, speeches, programs, symposia proceedings, and business records. 1963-1964 * 10.50 linear feet

Georgetown University Bicentenary Celebration

Correspondence, invitations, speeches, programs, symposia proceedings, business records, photographs, and video tapes. 1987-1989 * 12.00 linear feet

Georgetown University Motion Picture Film Footage Collection

Includes amateur footage from the 1920s; films of various athletic events from about 1949 to 1960; and out-takes from a 175th anniversary film production, 1963-1964. 1925-1964 * 24.00 linear feet

Georgetown University Yearbooks Collection

Includes complete or very nearly complete files of The Hodge Podge, Ye Domesday Book, Protocol, Caduceus, Apollonian, and Grand Rounds. 1904 to date * 31.00 linear feet