If you are interested in visiting the archives or making other inquiries, email to make arrangements, and we can usually get back to you within one business day. Please remember the archives are open by appointment only.

The archives are the repository for documents and materials pertaining to the history of the entire University community, including student publications, official records, photographs, and personal papers of people connected to the University. As a reference tool, the following chronological outline provides a succinct historical outline of Rockford University since 1847.

‌Chronological Outline‌

Some of our special collections include:

The Jane Addams and Hull-House Collection

The archives are one of several repositories of Jane Addams’ papers, as well as the papers of other women who worked at Hull House, such as Julia Lathrop. The following finding aids are representative of the Jane Addams’ Collection housed at the Rockford University Archives:

Jane Addams Drawer 1 Finding Tool‌

Jane Addams Drawer 2 Finding Tool‌

Jane Addams Microfilm‌

Publications about Jane Addams‌

Index to Julia Lathrop Papers‌

A further extensive collection of Jane Addams’ papers resides in Swarthmore College’s Peace Collection. Many of the Jane Addams papers housed at Swarthmore College date from 1880-1935 and cover the majority of Jane Addams’ life as a social activist.

Presidential Collections

The Rockford University Archives maintains collections on all past presidents; however, those represented below are the most extensive. For further information about the collections of past presidents, please email

‌Rockford University Presidents‌

Mary Ashby Cheek, 1937-1954

Mary Ashby Cheek was one of the longest serving presidents of Rockford University; she served as president for seventeen years. During her tenure, she assisted in the survival of the university during the end of the Depression and established a work study program with Rockford industy industries during World War II. The following finding aid represents the extent of the collection of Mary Ashby Cheek papers housed at the Rockford University Archives:

Mary Ashby Cheek Finding Tool‌

John A. Howard, 1960-1977

John A. Howard was one of the longest serving presidents of Rockford University. He was president for seventeen years from 1960-1977. Dr. Howard worked to build the current university campus known as New Campus and assisted in the orchestration of the move from Old Campus in downtown Rockford to the New Campus located on East State Street in Rockford. The following finding aids are representative of the collection of John Howard papers housed in the Rockford University Archives:

John Howard Papers Finding Tool‌
John Howard Finding Tool‌

Trustee Collection

The Trustee Collection dates from 1850-2012 and includes materials relating to the work of the Board including minutes, reports, correspondence, and financial records. The collection is open to research with permission of the office of origin and in accordance with the regulations of the Rockford University Archives.

The creation of the following finding tool was supported in part by an award from the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board, through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, National Archives and Records Administration.

Trustee Minute Finding Tool 12.06.2019

Digitized Yearbooks

In addition to holding print copies of the University’s yearbooks, the library also makes available digitized copies of yearbooks from 1903 to 1994 on the Internet Archive.

Charter Day & Commencement Speakers

Updated lists of Charter Day and Commencement Speakers including Honorary Degree Recipients and other awards are available upon request.

We Are A College At War Collection

The book, We Are A College At War, was written by three professors of Rockford University, Mary Weaks-Baxter, Christine Bruun, and Catherine Forslund. The work was published in 2010 and highlights the World War II experiences of Rockford College, now Rockford University, students to draw a broader picture of the role of American women and college students during this defining time in history. The following finding tool is representative of the primary and secondary sources utilized by the authors to write We Are A College At War along with references to the scrapbook collection of RU alumni, also housed in the Archives, that was used as source material.

We are a College at War Finding Tool‌

The Peter J. Stanlis Collection

Dr. Peter Stanlis, a former Professor of Humanities at Rockford University, studied Robert Frost throughout his career and knew the poet personally. Upon his death in 2011, his extensive collection on Robert Frost materials was donated to the University Archives for researcher use.

Stanlis Finding Tool
Frost Book Collection
Frost Journals & Magazines
Frost Pamphlets
Frost Audiovisual Programs
The materials available in the Frost Collection are for library use only.

Zeta Chapter Delta Kappa Gamma Society International

Zeta Chapter Delta Kappa Gamma Society International is the Boone and Winnebago counties chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an international sorority for key women educators that promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. Zeta Chapter has been in existence for over 80 years in Northern Illinois and represents 100 members from the two counties. The collection consists of thirteen scrapbooks corresponding to the following years:

  • 1946-1953
  • 1953-1954
  • 1956-1961
  • 1962-1972
  • 1972-1974
  • 1974-1975
  • 1976-1977
  • 1978-1980
  • 1980-1982
  • 1982-1984
  • 2002-2004
  • 2004-2006
  • 2006-2008

The scrapbooks available in the Zeta Chapter Collection are for library use only. Please contact the Archivist at if interested in viewing the collection or for further information.