From Archives and Special Collections: Hurricane History

Rhode Island and South Coast communities have long dealt with the dangers and damages of hurricanes and tropical storms. The effects of these storms will only increase in impact as the Atlantic hurricane season grows longer and more destructive due to climate change’s warming seas. Before the advent of social media, photographic documentation of storms was circulated through printed publications, and was sometimes generated for insurance reasons. Items from University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) tell the story of hurricanes in Rhode Island in the twentieth century in a display on the third floor of McKillop Library.

Hurricane Display

Locally-published accounts of hurricanes held in University Archives in Special Collections, on display in McKillop Library.

UASC holds a number of volumes of hurricane photographs published in Rhode Island and nearby cities in the twentieth century, as well as photographs of campus created to document damage. The handwritten Annals kept by the Sisters of Mercy on campus from the 1950s to 1970s noted when hurricanes affected campus life. Though we are in unprecedented times, we can learn from the past about environmental resilience.

The Hurricane of ’38 made landfall in Long Island on September 21 as a Category 3 storm. It ripped through New York and New England, destroying about 57,000 homes. At least 682 people, mostly in Rhode Island, lost their lives in the storm. It is the deadliest and most destructive hurricane in recorded New England history.

The World Meteorological Association controls the name of Atlantic hurricanes, maintaining a full alphabetical list for six years’ worth of storms. The organization decides when a particular name should be retired after a particularly strong or costly hurricane, and then picks a new name to replace it. This naming convention and standardization began in 1979.

Hurricane Display, panel 2

Archival materials related to the 1938 and 1954 hurricanes on display, with primary source accounts from the Sisters of Mercy.

Hurricane Carol was one of the first storm names to be retired, though this was before the hurricane name standardization. The storm caused massive flooding and destruction in Rhode Island in September 1954. In the Annals, the account of the storm notes,

Hurricane Carol is in our midst. God is very good to us. Moore Hall roof damaged, trees felled; water finds entry into Room B, Mater Christi dormitory and library. Fr. Kelley, Columbian, who said Mass here this A.M. stayed until 5 p.m. St. Augustine’s Sisters are with us.

The campus lost power and not long after Hurricane Carol the community had to prepare for Hurricanes Edna and later Hurricane Hazel that autumn.

Hurricane Display, panel 3

Photographic accounts of hurricane destruction and survival proliferated in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts in the mid-twentieth-century.

Over the subsequent decades, the Annals record worries about damage to the campus from hurricanes, such as Hurricane Donna in 1960 and Hurricane Helena in 1963. Of Hurricane Donna, the recording Sister noted it was not as strong as the 1954 storm; Hurricane Carol lived on in the collective memory of the college.

In 1991, Hurricane Bob caused extensive damage to campus. You can view the documentation of damage and clean-up efforts from this disaster online in the Hurricane Bob digital collection.

Hurricane Display, Hurricane Bob

Hurricane Bob caused significant damage to building exteriors and the natural landscape of the campus in 1991.

As ecological disasters grow to be a more frequent part of life in the twenty-first century, what can we learn from hurricane responses, city planning, and reconstruction efforts from the twentieth?

On display in the library are the Special Collections books listed below. These works capture not only the physical impact of various hurricanes, but the emotional toll on Rhode Island residents. From these we can learn not only about the storms themselves, but how people thought about them and framed these events in their own lives.

The Great Hurricane and Tidal Wave, Rhode Island: September 21, 1938
Spec Coll F84 .P78 1938

Bristol County Hurricane Album: Wednesday, September 21, 1938
Spec Coll F87.B86 B75 1938

Hurricane Pictures, August 31, 1954
Spec Coll F74.F2 H85 1954

Hurricane-Flood Views 1938
Spec Coll F72 .C7 H7 1938

1938 Hurricane Pictures: with a Brief Story and 400 Views of Destruction in New
Bedford and Vicinity (a Few of New London and Martha’s Vineyard)
Spec Coll F9.A15 1938

The Hurricane in Newport, 21 September 1938: a Graphic Story of the Storm
by an Eye Witness
Newport Coll F89 .N5 W37 1938

Hurricane Carol Lashes Rhode Island, August 31, 1954
Spec Coll F84 .P8 1954

Hurricane Carol, Bristol R.I.: August 31, 1954
Spec Coll F84 .H87 1954

Hurricane and Flood of September 21, 1938 at Providence, R.I.: A Pictorial Record
Spec Coll F89.P9 H8 1938

Hurricane 1954
Spec Coll F89.P957 H96 1954

Voting in the 2020 U.S General Election


See our “Voting in the 2020 U.S. General Election” guide for information on voter registration and requesting absentee ballots by state. You can also:

  • Check your voter registration status
  • Find information by state
  • Register to vote
  • Request a mail-in ballot

The library will even pay for postage and mail your ballot for you!

Source: International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). “How to spot fake news,” 2017.

Also see our “Credible News” guide. It’s more important than ever to check what you hear or see from the media, regardless of the source. This guide is intended to give you guidance and strategies for finding credible news sources, including consideration a news source’s purpose, intended audience, and authorship.

We pull together several sources to help you navigate a changing information landscape, including the New York Times‘ education piece, “Fake News vs. Real News: Determining the Reliability of Sources”.

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Welcome (back) to McKillop Library


Welcome back! We are excited to see you again whether in-person or virtually! Below includes information about the newest updates and changes to policies, staffing, hours, library, spaces, etc. amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For up-to-date information, please visit the library’s COVID guide at Refer also to our FAQs for answers to your Frequently Asked Questions.

Updated Library Hours
New library hours during the semester are as follows:

  • Sunday: 10am-1am
  • Monday-Thursday: 8am-1am
  • Friday: 8am-6pm
  • Saturday: 11am-6pm

Safety Guidelines
McKillop Library is open to current Salve students, faculty and staff via Salve ID swipe. Library staff has instituted distancing measures in the library’s study spaces to keep the Salve community safe. Masks are required, properly worn, throughout the building at all times.

The library has made as many services as contact-less as possible, including hold pickup, which is self-serve at the circulation desk, material check in, and check out. We are also offering curbside pickup for holds placed from our catalog.

Hand sanitizing stations and cleaning wipes and supplies will be available. Library staff will also clean surfaces hourly. Books/DVDs will be quarantined for three (3) days upon return (please allow up to 3 days for returned items to be removed from your library account).

Food & Drink
McKillop Café is open as of September 9, and food may be consumed on the café side of the first floor only. Masks are still required on that floor, though people can remove them while actively eating. Food is not permitted anywhere else in the library building, but beverages can be consumed throughout. We ask that the Salve community drink beverages through a straw under their mask or briefly remove their mask to sip, and then put it back on.

Research Assistance
The research & information desk will not be regularly staffed but librarians are available for research help via chat, phone, email, virtual conference and in-person walk-in.

Course Reserves
McKillop Library will continue to offer physical reserves while in-person classes remain in session, and will offer online reserves through the fall and spring semesters.

Book a Study Room
You can book one of three technology-equipped study rooms online at Please note maximum capacity for each room based on social distancing guidelines. Rooms can be booked up to three days in advance.

Resources for Remote Students
For local Salve community members teaching or learning remotely, we are offering curbside delivery of requested items. Simply request your item(s) through our catalog. You will receive an email notification when your item(s) are ready for pickup (1-2 business days for Salve items, 2-3 business days for HELIN items, 3-7 day average for Interlibrary Loan books). Come to the library at your convenience and when you arrive, please which please call the front desk at 401-341-2294, let us know whether you are at the front or back entrance and we will deliver your items to you.

If you are learning or teaching remotely and unable to get to campus, we will mail your items to you, upon request. Please note: as a cost-saving measure, we use USPS Media Mail for all mailed items. This service takes up to 8 business days for delivery, and often longer due to current circumstances, so please keep important assignment deadlines in mind when requesting to receive items by mail. Books requested from other HELIN libraries will take an extra few days to be delivered, so this should be factored into your plans for requesting to receive items by mail. We ask that patrons who live on Aquidneck Island come to the library to pick up their requested items. It remains library policy that books requested via interlibrary loan will not be mailed, as the lending libraries are not part of our consortium and have different policies. Items mailed from McKillop Library do not include pre-paid postage for return.

Salve students, faculty and staff are also welcome to return borrowed items to the book drop near McKillop Library’s front entrance. Items may also be returned using the USPS Media Mail option. View our FAQ page for specific instructions on shipping books.

The library offers many options for remote research such as databases for articles in virtually any subject area and access to thousands of ebooks and electronic newspapers. Visit our database page for links, descriptions and access.

Library Events
Our events have gone virtual! See a full list of up-coming events throughout the semester and register for online events at You can even save events to your Outlook or Google calendars and share via Facebook or Twitter!

Inclusive Reading Club

IRCSign up today through the library’s Calendar of Events and join us once a month in an online discussion where we will explore, through short readings, issues surrounding voter suppression in the United States in September and racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system in October. We’ve moved our time and date to Thursdays at 4 p.m. We hope you can join us!

IRC IRC: Voter Suppression
Sept. 24th at 4 p.m. via Zoom
Where: Online via Zoom
(click to Register)

With a big election coming in November, we’re going to be talking about voter suppression in the United States. Why are some communities disproportionately affected by tactics such as voter roll purges, changes to voter ID requirements, the rigging of rules, and gerrymandering? We’ll read excerpts from Stacey Abrams’ new book, Our Time is Now, and learn more about how some communities are confronting acts of voter suppression.

Faculty Lecture Series

Our popular Faculty Lecture Series returns this semester with three engaging online presentations. Be sure to visit the library’s Calendar of Events for details and registration.

faculty lecture Emily Colbert Cairns: “Breast is Best in Early Modern Spain”
Thurs., Sept. 17 at 4p.m. via Zoom
Click to register

Maternal milk is the first food practice that serves to control the female body, enabling certain women but not others from nursing infants. In this presentation, Dr. Colbert Cairns shares her research from a sabbatical in the fall of 2019. While in Spain, she conducted primary research in hospital archives regarding the use of wet-nurses and their orphan charges in the Archivo de la Diputación Provincial de Sevilla (Seville, Spain). Establishing a primary residence in Seville, Spain, allowed Dr. Colbert Cairns to visit and study first-hand some of the important artistic representations of the lactating virgin in the Museum of Bellas Artes, within the Cathedral of Seville and in the Archbishop’s Palace. These paintings comprise a key aspect of the research _ they reflect the widespread and popular appeal this topic had for an early modern Iberian audience. The discussion will focus on two of these paintings found within Seville’s Cathedral: Virgen de los Remedios (anonymous 1400) and The Purification of the Virgen (1555) by Pedro de la Campaña.

faculty lectureD. Matthew Ramsey: “Taking Popular Culture Seriously, or, How I Learned to Love ‘Hack’ Faulkner”
Mon., Oct. 19 at 4p.m. via Zoom
Click to register

Dr. Ramsey examines the work of renowned, Nobel Prize-winning Southern author William Faulkner and his intersections with popular culture. To illustrate issues regarding the canon, literary snobbery, or assumptions about Southern white male authors, Dr. Ramsey employs examples of film, novels, and other works, including a Saturday Evening Post all-male war story transformed into a Joan Crawford melodrama, a “scandalous” Pre-Code Hollywood film about rape and murder, and The Long, Hot Summer and the queerness of 1950s Southern melodramas.

faculty lectureAnthony F. Mangieri: “Epic Fashion: Dress Decoration and Homeric Storytelling in Ancient Greek Art”
Tues., Nov. 11 at 4p.m. via Zoom
Click to register

Lecture description coming soon!

Anthony F. Mangieri is an Associate Professor of art and art history, and chair of the Department of Art and Art History. His areas of specialization are in ancient Greek and Roman art. In particular, his research focuses on Greek vase-painting, iconography, Classical mythology, dress and adornment, and issues of gender and sexuality in the ancient world. He received his Ph.D. in art history from Emory University in 2008.

New Arrivals
Check out our newest selection of books, DVDs and more! Below is a sampling of our new releases or browse all newest acquisitions.

Browse more ...Browse more ...Browse more ...Browse more ...

We look forward to seeing you throughout the semester (from a safe distance!). Take care of yourselves and each other. #salvesgotthis

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Earth Day at Salve: 50 Years of Activism & Care for Our Common Home

For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, University Archives & Special Collections had planned to present a display of items from our holdings related to environmentalism and Salve Regina’s history of Earth Day celebrations. In lieu of a physical display, archivist Genna Duplisea is presenting that history virtually during Earth Week so everyone can experience this story from home. The essay below links to digital objects from our collections and other resources to illuminate Salve’s history of caring for and celebrating our common home.

Beginnings:  Mercy & Environmentalism in Action

Salve Regina has celebrated Earth Day ever since the original Earth Day in 1970. The weekly newsletter for the college listed many events related to the first Earth Day, including a teach-in on ecology as well as hosted speakers, films, and discussions. The library and biology club collaborated on sponsoring an all-day free symposium, “Decisions for a Decade,” on environmentalism and activism.

Salve Regina’s associate academic dean Sister Margaret Sorensen, RSM and librarian Warren Harrington served on the planning committee for National Library Week at the same time, collaborating with other librarians in the state on “Libraries: Action Places for Ecology.” Additionally, Sister Margaret Sorenson spoke on “Man and His Environment” at the Providence Public Library as part of a collaboration between National Library Week and Rhode Island Environment Week. The momentum continued after Earth Day, with a campus discussion on pollution on Aquidneck Island, which involved 200 high school students.

Cover of the Special Collections copy of the Last Whole Earth catalog

Salve’s copy of “The Last Whole Earth Catalog” (1971).

Earth Day emerged from growing concerns about the human impact on the natural environment in the late 1960s, exemplified by increasing interest in sustainable and alternative modes of living. The Whole Earth Catalog was a utilitarian publication released between 1968 and 1972 and occasionally in subsequent years. It played a significant role in providing information and learning about building sustainable communities and lifestyles. Special Collections has a copy of The Last Whole Earth catalog, published in 1971. This turned out not to be the last edition. We don’t have our copy on display, but the Internet Archive has a digital copy you can browse.


Creative Celebrations

Salve students have long used Earth Day as a time to mark the renewal of spring and engage with both the joy of nature and tough environmental questions.

Students playing volleyball on Earth Day

Students play volleyball during an Earth Day celebration, 1987.

Students with waste project

On the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990, students built furniture and arranged “rooms” of waste and packaging.

Human & Natural Landscapes

orange flower

Flower photo from Joseph Souza’s “Four Seasons” project.

The natural beauty and cultivated landscapes of the Salve Regina campus are an important part of its identity. In the early 1980s, Salve Regina employee Joseph Souza photographed campus throughout all four seasons in his “Four Seasons” project. Would images of each season now conjure the same concepts of spring, summer, fall, and winter, or has the changing climate altered what signifies each season? What would you capture if you were documenting the seasons at Salve?

The 88 acres of Salve Regina’s campus are home to 1200 trees representing over 100 different species. Morton Arboretum’s ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program recognized Salve Regina as a Level II arboretum, and it is also recognized as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The work of the arboretum unites many different departments and offices, and the university collaborates with the Newport Tree Conservancy. Biology research from BIO140 and BIO255 engages with the science and management of the arboretum and is available in Digital Commons.

botanical sample in original housing

Botanical sample in original housing.

botanical sample after rehousing

Botanical sample after rehousing into preservation-friendly sleeves.

Around 1985, Salve Regina conducted a survey of its trees. The photographic negatives and some botanical samples resulting from this survey are held in the Archives. The university conducted another inventory and produced a Tree Management Plan in 2012.

Change & Loss

The close connection between Salve Regina and its landscape prompts reflection on how extreme weather events, such as those caused by climate change, and environmental phenomena affect our community.

Hurricane Bob swept through Rhode Island in 1991, causing damage to the Salve Regina campus that necessitated photo documentation and cleanup. You can view a digital collection of these photographs online.

Student standing under roots of fallen tree

Person, most likely a student, stands beneath a canopy of ripped-up roots of a fallen tree on the grounds of the William Watts Sherman House after Hurricane Bob, 1991.

In summer 2015, a coastal storm destroyed the fernleaf beech tree which stood in front of McAuley Hall, which had a massive spread of branches and was a focal point in the campus landscape. Because of the wealth of campus photography that Salve has performed over the years, the Archives has images of this majestic tree. Archival information like this allows us to remember losses and also observe change over time.

Scholarship & Conversation

Research and conversations about environmentalism, climate change, environmental justice, waste, sustainability, and the human relationship with the environment spread across all facets of life at Salve Regina. Several classes have produced research collections on environmental topics which are available in Digital Commons:

In recent years, academic departments and disciplines as ranging broadly from philosophy to biology to art have all held environmental events, including the following:

Sustainability in the archives

University Archives and Special Collections is not immune from the need to assess its own role in resource consumption and sustainable operations. We practice several strategies to lower our carbon footprint:

  • Reusing archival housing (boxes, folders) whenever possible, and making non-archival materials like binders and hanging folders available to the community for reuse
  • Powering down electronic equipment when not in use
  • Environmental monitoring to manage HVAC
  • Aggressive weeding policy for non-archival records so we are not dedicating resources to preserving unnecessary materials
  • Using scrap board to build display cradles, dividers, etc.
  • Recycling materials, including e-waste, responsibly
  • Reusing the brown kraft paper from supply shipments for Blind Date With a Book events

University Archives & Special Collections, and the library as a whole, are always interested in hearing suggestions for how to improve our sustainability practices. To explore more of how you can virtually celebrate Earth Week with the library, please visit this guide.

How are you celebrating Earth Week?

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