Chances are, if you're a member of the Wolfpack, you've been in the Brunswick Room at Saint Ignatius College Prep. But did you ever look up and notice the glass cabinets with the light blue curtains? Those secure storage spaces are particularly important to the work of the school's very own history custodian.
Since March of 2022, Angela Perine has been the archivist at Saint Ignatius.
"When you see me going back and forth from Brunswick, I'm working to re-house materials in one place," said Perine. All her footsteps between the fourth floor room and her Hasse Hall office in the Church of the Holy Family, are critical to preserving the rich history that tells us so much about the endurance of the loving Jesuit mission that has grown in the heart of Chicago.
In 1869, Fr. Arnold Damen, S.J. prioritized making faith and education available to young hearts and minds. Perine's job now is to preserve how that work has shaped generations of people.
"In those Brunswick cabinets, there are all kinds of photos, documents and memorabilia in boxes," Perine said, "Some of it's just loose. Some of it's been partially processed. My goal is to get all items one hundred percent processed."
Already, she's categorized thousands of documents and pictures, doing her part to preserve history. Perine explained how the paper part of the Wolfpack's story needs to be in acid-free sleeves and storage boxes so it can withstand the test of time.
"It's important these things are preserved. I really care," said Perine.
She follows in the footsteps of other people who have really cared -- most recently, Don Hoffman, a longtime teacher who served as the school archivist for more than three decades.
According to President John Chandler, Saint Ignatius College Prep is likely one of just a few high schools to have someone who maintains archives on premises. He talked about the array of documents right here -- from some of the earliest extant images of Chicago dating back to the Civil War era to diaries detailing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In fact, because Saint Ignatius did not burn in that traumatic, historic event, the school became a repository for primary documents of the city's history.
"Between Church of the Holy Family and the school, we have interacted with hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans," said Chandler, "If one does not know their history, one does not have an appreciation for the many sacrifices people have made so our institution today can be on a strong foundation."
In her efforts to protect the documentation of the foundation, Perine has made some incredible discoveries. Her favorite is a "Good Conduct" medal from the 1870s that belonged to Cornelius Sullivan, one of the first students at Saint Ignatius. When she found it, it was, in her words, "just kind of stuffed in a box."
Perine routinely fields requests from families who have questions about their loved one's time at Ignatius. She also is a conduit to add to the school's historic collection -- facilitating everything from the donation of someone's 1964 letterman jacket to the potential contribution of a gold chalice in honor of an alum.
She sincerely hopes her work helps students understand they're part of something way bigger than their moment in time. She pointed to the use of "A.M.D.G" as an example.
"With the overall spirit of the school, you see Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam references over the years" said Perine, "The school's goal has been to educate students and make them servants to the community. Looking back over all the documents and artifacts, you see that throughout our history."
When you think about it, the initials for the Latin phrase we use daily are portals to our past. They also bind us to our roots offering a point of connection to everyone who came before us...just as they will be a point of connection to everyone who follows.
"I love this work because I love storytelling," said Perine, "History is a story, and I'm able to tell that story. Being able to preserve memories is so very special."