Researching the Life and Legacy of Father Hesburgh

In the Archives of the University of Notre Dame researchers will find a wealth of primary source material for the study of Father Hesburgh's life and legacy. We have collections specifically devoted to his activities at Notre Dame and in the larger world outside the university. We also have evidence of his accomplishments in many other collections in the archives.

Father Hesburgh was a great supporter of the archives. When he no longer needed papers for his ongoing work, he sent them to the archives. After he left the office of president, he sent the files representing his years in office and his many outside activities. We processed and described these papers and made an inventory available on the internet.

Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.: Papers

Father Hesburgh's papers (175 linear feet) represent his service to God, Church, and country beyond the campus of Notre Dame. The word papers is perhaps misleading: in the twenty-first century, the papers of an individual may consist of documents in many media. Father Hesburgh's papers include documents on paper, but also microfilm, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital data.

Father Hesburgh continued to serve outside the campus throughout his life. After his death we received many more of his papers, and until these can be processed they will not be available for research. But the processed papers document many of his activities, including the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), the National Science Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Carnegie Commission on Future of Higher Education.

Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.: University Records

Most records of university offices at Notre Dame are closed for 72 years. But scholars whose research requires access can seek special permission to use specific university records. Since there has been extraordinary interest in Father Hesburgh's career at Notre Dame, some have already sought permission to see certain files, which the University Archivist has reviewed and made available to them whenever possible.

Some university records are open for research. Most of the files assembled by the University's Department of Information Services contain nothing confidential and can be made available immediately without any special review. Father Hesburgh's UDIS files are particularly rich, and include documentation of his career at Notre Dame and in the world at large. In addition to clippings and press releases, his UDIS files include many of his speeches. Similarly our collection of Notre Dame printed material is open for use and has much about Father Hesburgh.

Executive Vice-President

Father Hesburgh served as Executive Vice-President of Notre Dame from 1949 to 1952. We have five boxes of records documenting his work as Executive VP. They contain correspondence, reports, publications, and other documents; subject files; and records of his work with the Academic Council, the Faculty Board in Control of Athletics, the Building Committee, the Board of Lay Trustees Educational Affairs Committee, the Laetare Medal Nominating Committee, the American Council on Education, the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, the Fund for Adult Education of the Ford Foundation, and the National Educational Association.


As president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952 until 1987, Hesburgh maintained subject files (130 linear feet) and correspondence files (135 linear feet) representing all aspects of his work on campus and the range of people with whom he interacted.

President Emeritus

After his long service as president, Father Hesburgh continued to serve the Notre Dame community and the world at large. We have over 100 linear feet of files documenting his life as President Emeritus.


We are digitizing Father Hesburgh's Speeches.

Searching for Father Hesburgh

Beyond our online inventory of Father Hesburgh's papers, researchers can make use of our search page to discover what resources we have for research into Father Hesburgh's life and legacy. Notre Dame's libraries also have excellent resources to support this research.

For more information, please email, phone (574) 631-6448, or write to us: Notre Dame Archives, 607 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN, 46556.