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Using the Archives

The holdings of the archives include yearbooks, newsletters, magazines, photographs, scrapbooks, audio and video recordings, catalogs, annual reports, and some internal documents, all primarily generated within the college. There is also a small but growing collection of personal manuscripts donated by alumni.

Access to the collection is by appointment with the archivist who retrieves archival material for patrons from closed stacks areas to be viewed in the archives room, located at JLH202. Archival material does not circulate. The archivist can assist with research and/or questions about Aquinas College history as time allows.

COVID-19 Oral History

Contact Information

Archivist: Emily Koelzer

Phone: 616 632 2040




See what some of our archival collections have to offer by using one of the Finding Aids for our named collections.

Take a sneak peak of the past with Aquinas Student Newspaper.

Aquinas History Podcast

Rooted in Pillars is a four-part podcast series created by Anna Skog ('21) that traces Aquinas History through its Dominican pillars of Prayer, Study, Community, and Service. This podcast is available on Spotify. 

Please contact the archivist to discuss any potential donations. If the material is accepted for the archives, the donor prints out the donor form below and completes it. Arrangements are made for transportation of the material with the completed donor form to the archives. Donations then become permanent gifts to the archives.

  • What does the Archives Collect?

    This describes what kinds of materials are kept in the archives, what materials are not kept in the archives, and what the relationship between the archives and records management.

The mission of the Aquinas College Archives is to collect, organize, preserve, and share material that documents the history of the institution.

Library History

The history of the Aquinas College Library can be traced back to 1931, when Catholic Junior College (CJC) opened in downtown Grand Rapids. At that time, the collection was developed partly by donation and partly by purchase, and in 1933-34 the total expenditure on materials was $397, with 6,128 books on the shelves.

After becoming a four-year college, the College purchased an apartment complex on Library Street, near the Ryerson Library (now Grand Rapids Public Library Main). A brigade of students carried boxes of books from the CJC building to rooms of quaint shapes and sizes in the west wing. The new library included additional shelving, improved lighting, and two work rooms.

In 1945, when the college expanded by purchasing the Robinson Road campus, the library moved into the main floor of the Holmdene building. Library services grew to include a larger staff: a librarian and full-time assistant. Student workers were paid $0.65-0.75 per hour. Ten years later, when the new Administration Building (AB) opened, the library relocated there on two floors of the west wing. The sisters residing on campus spent several evenings reshelving reference books to complete the move; circulating books were in stacks on the floor above. The library added evening hours and received financial assistance from a robust Friends of the Library organization. Building up the collection proceeded gradually and then dramatically with a grant of $10,000 from the Kellogg Foundation.


By the 1960s, the library had outgrown its quarters, and in 1970 the Task Force on the Learning Resource Center recommended a reorganization to increase space. Their plan was to move the entire library to the second floor of the Academic Building. Four years later, after a $500,000 renovation, the Woodhouse Learning Resource Center was dedicated in honor of two long-time supporters of the college, C. Arthur and Marguerite Woodhouse. Users gained the benefit of more space, plus additional listening and viewing stations.


Although the new Woodhouse Library was an improvement, faculty, students, and library staff continued to dream of a larger, stand-alone space. Meanwhile, a grant of $350,000 from the Grand Rapids Foundation provided funds to automate the card catalog, which increased the accessibility of materials to users in the early 1990s.


In 2002, under the direction of then President Harry Knopke, a Library Building Committee was formed. After the committee explored other college libraries and solicited input from the Aquinas Community, English Professor Gary Eberle, a member of the committee, suggested adapting and expanding the existing Jarecki Lacks building to serve as the new library. This suggestion was adopted and philanthropists Ralph and Grace Hauenstein, along with many other donors, generously contributed funds for the renovation and addition. Construction began in 2005. The library moved into its spacious new building, which doubled the space of the old building to 40,000 square feet, in September 2006.


(Adapted from Sister Jean Milhaupt’s history of the library)

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