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Marquette's built environment forms a distinctive part of the university's rich history. Dedicated in 1881, the first Marquette College building (at 10th and State Street) was a result of the dedication and hard work of Archbishop John Martin Henni, who believed that Milwaukee needed a Catholic college. When the student population outgrew that location, a generous donation from Robert A. Johnston allowed Marquette's campus to shift to 11th and Grand Avenue (since renamed Wisconsin) in 1907. Marquette has since constructed, repurposed, and razed buildings in response to increases in student population and the evolving needs of higher education. Never was this more apparent than the years following World War II when Rev. Peter J. Brooks, S.J. and Rev. Edward J. O'Donnell, S.J. led major construction efforts on campus resulting in a new student union, the combining of libraries into one new library structure, a new building for the College of Business Administration, new residence halls (O'Donnell and Schroeder), and a library addition for the School of Medicine (now part of the Schroeder Complex). Both Brooks and O'Donnell had a vision that reached far into the future of Marquette University: they foresaw a campus that created leaders and innovators, understanding that the physical plant would play an important role in reaching this vision. An institution committed to excellence and leadership must constantly rebuild itself; current construction projects shape the campus as those shepherded by Brooks and O'Donnell did sixty years ago. As Winston Churchill suggested, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."

The Building a Campus collection aims to reflect that very evolution of the urban campus and the shaping of the Marquette experience.


The Building a Campus digital collection was created with both casual and serious researchers in mind and was designed to fit the needs of both, providing information about the history of the building itself as well as information about the image scanned.

Researchers can find historical information about the building, including who it is named for, whether it had previous names or uses, and important dates in the life of the structure, such as groundbreakings, dedications, date of purchase, and date of destruction (where known).


What is in the collection?
On a campus with a long history that has experienced much physical change, archivists chose to digitize images for the collection in batches rather than holding the images back until project completion. Focus groups conducted on campus in late 2008 informed decision-making about where to begin; buildings prioritized for inclusion often had historical importance, bore significance for large numbers of students (now alumni), or were deemed representative of the Marquette brand.

Each building is represented in the digital collection with a sampling of the images preserved in University Archives.  In choosing the images for the digital collection, efforts were made to document the various stages in the life of a building and the different ways in which the building was used. Where possible, both interior and exterior views of each building were included, as well as brief articles about its history and materials related to its dedication and construction.

Over time more buildings will be documented in the collection. Historical records about campus planning and beautification will also be featured.

Questions about the new collection may be addressed to Katie Blank, Archivist, Special Collections and University Archives, (414) 288-8741.

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