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University Archives & Special Collections

Mount Saint Mary's University Libraries

University Archives & Special Collections

Collection Highlights


Hours & Location

Monday-Friday: By Appointment

1st Floor - Archives 109
Charles Willard Coe Memorial Library
12001 Chalon Road
Los Angeles, CA 90046


MSMU Digital Collections

Digital Exhibits - Manuscripts

Search the Archives

CSJ Institute - CSJ Collection

About Us

University Archives


MSMU's University Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to materials of historical, research, and administrative interest. The archives hold selected records from administrative, academic, social, and cultural sources from both Chalon and Doheny campuses. Record series date from the foundation of the college in 1925 to the present and document its two campuses high above Los Angeles in Brentwood and on historic Chester Place downtown. In addition to textual records, archival series include photographs, flyers, clippings, scrapbooks, yearbooks, programs, and catalogs. Along with these primary source materials, we have various histories of the college and its founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. As a Catholic institution of higher learning with a commitment to social justice, the Mount has a long history of compassion, outreach, and community service.


The mission of the University Archives is to collect, arrange, and preserve documents and artifacts which contribute to the official memory of Mount Saint Mary's University. These records and documents, which have been deemed to be of enduring value, contain evidence of and information about the mission, history, organization, and operations of MSMU.

To accomplish this mission, the University Archives and Special Collections will accept and arrange the materials of departments, organizations, and individuals as they relate to the history of MSMU. They will collect, preserve, and make accessible permanent university records, rare materials, and other cultural heritage artifacts that relate to the history and educational endeavors of MSMU. They will also provide reference and outreach services to students, faculty, and staff as well as make the collections available to researchers to support their MSMU informational needs.


The University Archives are housed in the Frank H. Spearman Room (A109) on the first floor of the Charles Willard Coe Memorial Library at the Chalon Campus.

Collection Highlights

  • Diversity at the Mount, encompassing records documenting MSMU’s 70-year commitment to meeting the needs of Los Angeles’ diverse populations.
  • Chalon and Doheny photos, which richly illustrate the changes in Catholic higher education across more than 80 years of service.
  • Literary MSMU complete or nearly complete runs of the Mount’s renowned literary magazines, beginning in the 1920s with Inter Nos through the current Audemus.
  • Chester Place Archives, which include documents and historic photos relating to the Mount’s 45-year history on the former Doheny family property south of Downtown Los Angeles.
  • Rare collections of original articles and other writings by Frank Hamilton Spearman, Hollywood screenwriter, Western novelist, and respected Catholic commentator in the 1930s.
  • Major series comprise Administrative, Academic, Faculty, and Staff, Student Affairs, Alumnae, Mount Publications, and Events.


Special Collections


MSMU Special Collections materials include rare books, early editions of the Bible, theology treatises, devotional works, and Classical writings as well as various 18th, 19th, and 20th-century literature and art books.


Special collections are housed, along with the archives, in the Frank H. Spearman Room (A109) on the first floor of the Charles Willard Coe Memorial Library at the Chalon Campus, as well as parts of the Doheny Mansion, including the CSJ Institute at the Doheny Campus.

Collections of Note

  • CSJ Collection - materials by and about the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. New material is being added all the time. For a complete look, please visit the Spirit of the Founders Research Guide.
  • Roy Adaptation Model Research Collections - materials supporting the work of Sr. Callista Roy, CSJ '63 and the Roy Adaptation Model
  • Collection in the History of Nursing Education - materials supporting the development of the nursing program at MSMU, materials collected and donated by nursing program founder Sr. M. Rebecca Doan. CSJ, as well as materials documenting the history and changes in nursing education
  • Alumnae Authors Collection - materials written by alumnae of MSMU
  • Newman Collection - books and materials by and about St. John Henry Newman (canonized October 13, 2019), an English poet, theologian, and Anglican priest, whose defiant conversion to Catholicism was one of the historic shockwaves of the 19th Century. He is considered the father of the modern Catholic intellectual tradition and higher education.
  • Doheny Collection - materials including holdings from the extensive collection of Estelle Doheny and Edward Lawrence "Ned" Doheny Jr.

Digital Collections


Through a generous grant from Mount alumnae and the Lyrasis-Sloan Foundation Mass Digitization Project, several collections in the University Archives have been digitized and are freely available for viewing and downloading on the University Archives institutional repository (MSMU Digital Collections).

Digital Photographs

Selected photographs from the first 75 years of Mount history are available on the University Archives institutional repository (MSMU Digital Collections). Collections include historic postcards from Chester Place, the site of the Mount's Doheny Campus since 1962, and pictures and documents from the Bel Air Fire disaster in November 1961.

Digital Humanities Projects


The University Archives has a strong commitment to the role of primary materials in digital humanities. Faculty and students are encouraged to seek opportunities to use MSMU's archival materials in their curriculum and projects.

Frank Hamilton Spearman Project

In the summer semester of 2013, students in MSMU's graduate division participated in a Digital Humanities course that explored the digitization and curation of primary and secondary materials in the University Archives.

Using the novel Whispering Smith as their starting point, students researched its author, western writer, Catholic commentator, and Mount benefactor Frank Spearman (1859-1937). Using archival materials from the Spearman family in the Archives, the students produced detailed web resources focusing on Spearman and promoted it through social media channels.

The students' culminating project, Frank Spearman - A Digital Experience, contains biographical and bibliographical material, an annotated reading of Whispering Smith (1906), family photographs, a filmography, and an extensive finding aid of Spearman holdings at MSMU.


FAQ - Access Polices & Donations

How do I access MSMU Archives & Special Collections?

Archives Access

The University Archives are open to MSMU students, faculty, alums, staff, and qualified researchers.  The University Archives consists of irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind materials, and archives visitors must observe the access policies as outlined below.

Special Collections Access

Special Collections are open to MSMU students, faculty, alums, staff, and qualified researchers. Most of the books do not circulate, but exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. The exception is the Newman Collection, which is available to Newman scholars through the MSMU Library Catalog (search "Cardinal Newman") and LINK+.

What are the access policies?

Access Policies

  • Series and individual items do not circulate and cannot be checked out.
  • Access to certain materials is restricted due to matters of confidentiality and privacy.
  • Materials may not be removed for copying. Limited material can be scanned or copied by staff under prior arrangement.
  • Staff will assist patrons in the proper handling of fragile materials.
  • Only pencils may be used for taking notes in the University Archives and Special Collections.
  • Study groups are limited to three students at a time.
  • Staff will assist patrons and students on how to cite the material.

As an instructor, how do I arrange for my class to use university archives and special collections materials?

Faculty are invited to consult with the Archives & Special Collections Librarian in incorporating archives materials into their curriculum.

How do I get permission to use digital MSMU materials?

Copyright to these assets is held by Mount Saint Mary’s University, which makes the material available to members of the Mount Community and qualified researchers. 

Please consult with the Archives & Special Collections Librarian for further information on the publication of any MSMU materials.

What kinds of materials can I transfer or donate to the Archives?

Types of records and documents eligible for transfer to the University Archives

  • Agendas and minutes of regularly occurring meetings
  • Regularly produced reports, summaries, and planning documents in final form
  • Final versions of internally produced special reports, studies, or surveys presented to MSMU Administration
  • Files from major programs that have been concluded
  • Regularly appearing manuals and handbooks
  • All MSMU-produced publications
  • Select documentation of campus-wide special events
  • Select photographic prints with appropriate identification

Materials currently ineligible for archiving in the University Archives

Due to digital copyright issues, and the current complexity and cost of preserving electronic materials, the following types of material are typically excluded. We hope that in the not-too-distant future we will be able to accept archival-quality digital originals for permanent retention. 

  • Digital video and photography
  • Email unless printed and in file folders
  • MSMU Web pages except for printable PDFs
  • Audio and multimedia tapes, DVDs, CDs, and flash memory devices
  • Documents or other content stored on third-party websites, including Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Google Docs, blogs, etc.
  • Any material to which MSMU does not hold clear copyright

Please consult with the Archives & Special Collections Librarian for assistance in identifying appropriate materials.


FAQ - Search & Find

How do I search for Mount publications online?


Many MSMU publications are digitized. To search catalogs, newspapers, yearbooks, journals and more, browse MSMU Digital Collections. Most items may be downloaded.


How do I search for pictures?


A selection of historic photos is available at MSMU Digital Collections - Historic Photos Collection. Please cite your photos and credit “MSMU Archives.”

If you need more recent photos, please contact the Archives & Special Collections Librarian.


How do I search for archival materials, primary sources, correspondence, ephemera, etc.?


Archives exist in many forms. You may search descriptions of more than 100 collections by entering names and keywords here MSMU Archives (Finding Aids).

Please make an appointment with the Archives & Special Collections Librarian and plan to visit the archives at the Chalon Campus (Archives 109) to see the actual documents in person.

How do I search for manuscripts online?


A selection of MSMU’s collection of medieval manuscripts and rare Bible leaves is available at MSMU Digital Exhibits - Manuscripts.