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

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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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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November Library Displays


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

Book display – Internet Addiction

Related to internet addiction behavioral health workshop

Book display – Native American Indian Heritage Month

To celebrate Native American Indian Heritage Month, we have gathered related books located on the 1st FL.

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles 2019

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.

A Place at the Table

Feel free to borrow any book that interests you!

Native American Indian Heritage Month display by Genna Duplisea, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles display by Nancy Barta-Norton, Acquisitions and Cataloging Librarian
“A Place at the Table” and “Internet Addictions” book displays by Gretchen Sotomayor, Special Programs and Instruction Librarian

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