On Thursday, Oct. 10, the gift of The Thomas J. & Michele Ridge Collection will be dedicated at Mercyhurst University with a reception unveiling unique pieces from the collection. The reception marks the creation of a public archive of the Ridges’ lives, and when completed, will provide important context for researchers and inspiration for those considering a career in public service.
The Ridge Collection, which will be housed in Hammermill Library, comprises approximately 1,100 linear feet of documents, audio-visual materials and artifacts. Once open for research use, more than 1.1 million pages of documents, 3,000 audio-visual items, 10,000 photographs and 1,500 artifacts will be available. The collection mainly spans Governor Ridge’s time as governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1995-2001) and is expected to grow over time to include materials from his six terms in Congress and as the first director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The collection documents many significant events of his administration, including early childhood education, the landmark Growing Greener program and key job-growth initiatives, ranging from the return of shipbuilding on the Delaware River and international trade to investments in the Commonwealth’s natural and cultural resources.
A wealth of significant primary material, such as the Governor and First Lady’s schedules and speeches during their tenure in Harrisburg, is included in the collection. For example, the collection includes Governor Ridge’s final speech to a joint session of the state legislature before departing for Washington in the aftermath of 9/11. The First Lady’s papers provide insight into her numerous public appearances and causes, ranging from the PA Partnership for Children to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. Personal effects, including photos and awards that pre-and post-date the governorship, will also be included.
Besides creating a robust research environment for scholars, the Ridge Collection will serve as a teaching tool for a number of Mercyhurst University’s academic programs, among them intelligence studies, applied politics, public history and marketing.
Numerous items will be on exhibit Oct. 10, including Governor Ridge’s original 1995 Oath of Office, campaign and inaugural memorabilia, gifts to the Ridges and selections from the Ridges’ personal collection.
"Michele and I are deeply honored and humbled by the willingness of Mercyhurst University to host the Ridge Collection,” said Governor Ridge. “Our years of serving the Commonwealth and our country were so wonderfully rewarding. We hope that this collection will help to inspire others to the value of service."
“Housing an archive of this caliber and historic significance on the Mercyhurst University campus will provide students and scholars an understanding of Ridge’s leadership in the formation of public policy and insight into one of America’s most prominent politicians,” said President Thomas J. Gamble, Mercyhurst University. “The Collection’s original documents, photos and speeches, will be a unique resource and teaching tool for our faculty and will provide primary research opportunities for students across several disciplines particularly applied politics, history, communication and marketing.”
(MU NEWS COVER PHOTO: Archival photo of Tom and Michele Ridge with children Lesley & Tommy)