Former director of schools returns to help digitization process for archives


Halie Kim

Sister Mary Mardel, RSCJ reviews the Archives in the Mother Williams Library. The Archives contain information dating back to 1887.

Grace Ainslie and Halie Kim

The former director of schools revisited to organize and categorize archival documents — some dating back to World War II.

“These photographs, many of which I had taken, were very interesting to see again,” former Director of Schools Sister Mary Mardel, RSCJ said.

Mardel reviewed a timeline of all chief events that have occurred since 1887 after going through and identifying people in photograph albums from the 1940s and 1950s.

“Any organization has archives,” Mardel said. “It’s very important, because all the records and accounts of everything that goes on in the school are kept there.”

The archives contain the history of the four schools from student records to yearbooks.

“All the different departments have their own section, and the history of the department are there,” alumna Virginia Murillo (’48), who helped Mardel categorize the archives, said.

Mardel created the archives, which are in the process of being moved from the elementary school to the Mother Williams Library.

“Alyson Barrett-Ryan and I are both in charge of taking over the archives,” librarian Reba Sell said. “We’ll be reprocessing the collection. Mostly we’ll be categorizing them into different areas and then boxing them and moving down here and re-categorizing them to make sure that we have all of them.”

The librarians hope to involve students in the categorizing process, with an end goal of digitizing the entire archives. They are currently working on an online database that will be available to alumnae, students, faculty and community members who are searching for the history of the school, according to Sell.

“The school reacts to the historic events that are happening in the world, like in World War II, we looked out these windows and we could see our battleships leaving and coming back,” Murillo said. “This school is part of the history of San Francisco.