It all began right here in Oakland on the shores of Lake Merritt

Holy Names University’s story begins in 1868 when six Sisters of the Holy Names arrived in California from Montreal, Canada. The teaching order, founded to provide education to the poor, had been invited to Oakland by Father Michael King to establish a school for girls and to train future teachers.

When the school was founded on the shores of Lake Merritt, Oakland was an outpost of 8,000 people. Lake Merritt was at that time considered to be “far in the country, wild and brush covered, a thicket for rabbits and quail.”

Since that historic beginning over 140 years ago, Holy Names University, now located in the Oakland hills, has grown with and served the Oakland community and the East Bay in many ways. Our rich history is intrinsically entwined with the City of Oakland’s.

In Cushing Library resides the Rare Books Room, full of historical documents, photo albums, slides, old yearbooks and decades-old scrapbooks, postcards, mid-century alumni magazines and much more. It’s quite a wonderful a time-machine to our past that, slowly but surely, we are scanning and archiving, so that we might share these treasures with the entire Holy Names University and Oakland communities.

Join us here as we post some of our findings as we go along — historical gems of HNU’s and Oakland’s past.

About Deirdre Spencer

Deirdre Spencer, a graphic designer, is the Web Manager for Holy Names University in Oakland, CA. With substantial freelance and agency experience designing print and web marketing collateral, she has worked with a wide range of clients, including visual effects companies, museums and other non-profit organizations, Bay Area cities and schools, best-selling authors, and Silicon Valley start-ups.
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