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Victor aims to raise profile of new Ridge archives

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Artist's rendering of Ridge Reading Room

Work continues at Mercyhurst University on the curating, preservation and digitizing of more than 1.1 million documents, 10,000 photographs, and 3,000 audio-visual items among The Thomas J. and Michele Ridge Collection. In addition, the university is planning for the construction of the Ridge Reading Room to be prominently located on the main floor of the university’s library on its Erie campus.

To support these initiatives, Mercyhurst President Michael Victor will be in Philadelphia Thursday for a fundraising luncheon honoring the Ridges and introducing the archives to some of the city’s most distinguished citizens.

The luncheon, hosted by Bob Asher, will be held at The Union League of Philadelphia, 140 South Broad Street, on Thursday. Victor and his wife Jean Craige Pepper Victor, a member of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, will welcome guests with Provost David Dausey and Vice President for Advancement Caleb Pifer.

“As president of Mercyhurst University, I am particularly gratified that our institution in Erie, a city where both the Governor and Mrs. Ridge were born, has the honor of archiving their distinguished public careers,” Victor said. “We are further grateful to Mr. Asher for helping us build awareness of this historic collection.”

Asher is a U.S. Army veteran and an alumnus of The Wharton School of Business and Commerce, Philadelphia; and an involved citizen.  He is a Pennsylvania member of Republican National Committee, since 1998; and he served as Chairman, Republican Party of Pennsylvania, 1983-1986.  He is co-chairman of Asher’s Chocolates (4th generation family candy business of C.A. Asher), a major candy-making company with a national distribution center at Souderton, with operations also in the Historic Germantown area of Philadelphia and Lewistown.  The company annually produces more than 6 million pounds of confectioneries for national and international distribution.

The Ridge collection mainly spans 1995 to 2001 and chronicles the significant events of the Ridge-Schweiker Administration. In time, the collection is expected to grow to include some materials from Ridge’s six terms in Congress and as the first director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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, are also be included.