University of Saint Francis Sharing Our Past, A Visual History (University of St. Francis)
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About this Collection

Collection Description

Welcome to Sharing Our Past, A Visual History. This online collection contains digitized photographs, brochures, press releases, newsletters, posters, and other materials related to the history of the University of St. Francis, the City of Joliet, and Will County.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate have been serving in Joliet since the congregation was founded by Mother Alfred Moes in 1865. Their ministries included taking in orphans and boarding students, staffing parish schools, and serving various ethnic groups during their adjustment to American life. Their desire to serve the people in their community led them to study and master every academic area in order to provide a well-rounded education through their schools. As their education skills grew, so did their schools, culminating with the establishing of the College of St. Francis, now the University of St. Francis, in 1920.

The Motherhouse ca. 1926-1931 Tower Hall - East Wing Exterior

The Motherhouse, left; Tower Hall, right

Initially using only the Motherhouse convent and the newly constructed Tower Hall, by the late 1950s it was apparent that the college was outgrowing their buildings and the Sisters began to make plans to expand. A new Residence Wing was added to Tower Hall in 1955 and the St. Albert Science Building became the third main building on campus in 1959. These new additions were quickly followed by Marian Hall, a large dedicated Residence Hall, in 1966 and a separate Library Building in 1968. The College of St. Francis welcomed their first lay president in 1969 and after a failed merger with Lewis College in Romeoville, began to welcome male students. The now co-educational school continued to thrive amidst the many changes. They added award-winning athletic teams, building a new Recreation Center in 1986; they increased the amount of lay faculty, updating scholastic programs and adding more options of study; and after successfully creating Master's Degree programs, the school gained the title of University of St. Francis in 1998.

Students by CSF Sign ca. 1975-1989 Natural Sciences Class ca. 1950-1959 Students in Library ca. 1968-1979
The Sisters of St. Francis and the University of St. Francis are deeply rooted in Joliet. The history of the school provides insight into the daily and scholastic life of college students in the area, showing the changes over time in educational and social norms. This online collection is a visual representation of that history.

The images can be displayed and downloaded in high-resolution format. All rights held by the University of St. Francis. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use these images, please contact

Funding for this grant was awarded by the Illinois State Library (ISL), a Department of the Office of Secretary of State, using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).