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

What’s New @ McKillop Library


Happy 2020 and welcome back! We hope everyone has had a merry holiday and a restful break! We’ve been busy here in the library, preparing for the new semester. Here’s some of what we’ve been up to:

Study Room Changes

Study Room 317 is being repurposed, therefore is offline and not available for booking through the online study room module. It is locked and unavailable for student use.

By student request, we have placed laminated guides on how to use the technology in each study room, including who to contact for assistance. Each of our three study rooms (217, 306 and 304) include a wall-mounted display with cables to connect your laptop or mobile device!

New Arrivals

Our New Arrivals list has been updated with newly acquired books and DVDs! Below is a small sampling — see the full list by collection or subject area at

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

Updated Food/Noise Policy

We have updated our Food and Drink Policy and Noise Policy to ensure that everyone experiences a comfortable environment when in the library. Some of the guidelines include:

  • Items purchased from the McKillop Café, as well as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages in spill-resistant containers are permitted in the library. Messy and/or aromatic meals (e.g. soup, subs, pizza) should be consumed only in the McKillop Café area on the first floor and away from public access computers.
  • Takeout foods delivered to the library front desk will be refused and returned to the delivery driver.
  • Alcohol, as well as tobacco or vaping products of any kind are prohibited in the library.
  • Cell phone ringers should be disabled or turned to vibrate. Please be considerate of those around you and keep conversations to a minimum and at a low volume.
  • On the first and second floors, conversation at a normal volume is allowed. This environment is conducive to group work and for people who study better with environmental stimulation.
  • The third floor is designated for silent study, so any conversation should be kept to an absolute minimum. This environment is conducive to individual study and for people who study better with very little environmental stimulation.
  • On all three floors, headphones or earbuds are required for listening to music or videos; this type of sound cannot be played out loud in any open areas of the library. Headphones are available to check out at the circulation desk.

Thank you for your cooperation in creating a supportive, relaxing atmosphere for everyone!

Upcoming Events

We have some fantastic events planned for this semester, such as:

Faculty Lecture Series: Elaine Silva Mangiante, Ph.D.

“Creating a Culture of Critical Thinkers: Novice and Veteran Teachers Embrace Educational Reforms to Foster a Collaborative and Critical Environment.”

Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: McKillop Library – East Wing

Educational standards in the US have shifted in the last decade emphasizing the promotion of students’ critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving. Students are now expected to be able to construct arguments based on evidence to explain a phenomenon—the focus now is on why and how rather than merely what. Dr. Mangiante’s research reveals how teachers, both prospective and veteran, have embraced innovative pedagogical strategies and educational reforms to create a classroom culture for collaborative problem-solving.

The Inclusive Reading Club: “The Hate U Give” and “Race Matters”

Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Location: McKillop Library – Munroe Special Collections Room (109)

Join us for a discussion of The Hate U Give, the award-winning, critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angie Thomas that chronicles the experiences of a black family in Georgia confronting racial norms and police brutality, and Race Matters by Dr. Cornel West, a national bestseller that recently celebrated 25 years of publication. For more information, including on how to access the readings online, go to the event page at


Johannes von Gumppenberg Reception

Date: Thursday, February 20, 2020
Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Room 306

The vibrant acrylic paintings on display between the second and third floors of the McKillop Library are the work of modern artist Johannes von Gumppenberg. His work demonstrates a lifelong interest in modern art and design and a desire to explore the fundamentals underlying new freedoms.

New Displays

The Life of Saint John Henry Newman [1st FL]

Come and learn more about the life of Saint John Henry Newman in a new display from the personal collection of English professor Dr. Stephen Trainor. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman was declared a saint in a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square in Rome on Sunday, October 13, 2019.

Dr. Trainor, who attended the ceremony, has graciously provided first edition copies of Newman’s works, as well as mementos from the ceremony in October. The display is located on the first floor of the library, near the library café.

Diversity in Children’s Films [1st FL – DVDs]

Black History Month [1st FL]

Immigration [1st FL]

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles 2019 [1st FL]

CHOICE, a publisher of the American Library Association, publishes its yearly list that reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice</eM and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community. The books on this display were ordered from the list of Outstanding Academic titles.

Calligraphy as Expression of Devotion [3rd FL]

University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Genna Duplisea first noticed in the collection Maria Thomas’s beautiful calligraphic art used for the Mission Statement, Christmas cards for Sister Therese Antone, and other Salve celebrations. Such pieces recall religious manuscripts, in which the meaning and the form of words were both important. Writing is both an expression of the self and, in some cases, a practice of devotion.

She sought to find examples of hand-lettering, everyday handwriting, and designed fonts in the archives. The collaboration between Special Collections and Jamestown artist Johannes von Gumppenberg, whose paintings hang on the mezzanine, also provided many examples of calligraphy design. Many of the selections relate to Christmas because of Salve Regina’s Sisters of Mercy heritage, and so only represents a small fraction of the possibilities of writing as art and religious practice. Duplisea hopes that this display will spark conversation about writing across all faith traditions.

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October Library Displays


Come view our 1st FL library displays for the month of October!

Book & DVD displays – LGBTQ+ History Month

To celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, we have gathered related books and films into displays located on the 1st FL.

New Books in International Fiction

View some of our new arrivals in international fiction (1st FL).

Feel free to borrow any book or DVD that interests you!

LGBTQ+ DVD display by Hilary Gunnels, Research, Instruction & Archives Specialist
LGBTQ+ Book display by Nicole Marino, Digital Scholarship and Instruction Librarian
International Fiction New Books display by Ingrid Levin, Electronic Resources and Collections Librarian

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Check Out These Creepy Movies -If You Dare


Want Scary Movies? We’ve got ’em.

Vampires? Check.

Aliens? Yep.

Zombies? Duh, of course!

We have 226 Horror films, 239 Science Fiction films, 243 Fantasy films and 91 Horror TV series on DVD.

Our entire popular DVD collection can be found on the first floor. They are sorted alphabetically by title so it’s easy to find just the movie you’re looking for — or browse the entire collection!

Below is just a small sample of the scary movies we currently have available in the library (get them soon before they disappear. . .)





Need a DVD player? Our library PCs play DVDs and we have two external USB DVD players for check-out. User Support Services (Ground Level) also allows students to borrow portable DVD players.

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