Siena College Archives and Special Collections

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
Siena College Archives and Special Collections
Siena College Founding Faculty, 1937 - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:
c. 1760 - 2020

Historical Context

Siena College is a co-educational, independent, liberal arts college with a Franciscan and Catholic tradition. The College was named for St. Bernardine of Siena and legally was St. Bernardine of Siena College until 1968, although informally it had been called “Siena College” for some time. It was founded in 1937 by the Franciscan friars of the Holy Name Province to provide a college for Catholic men in eastern upstate New York. By its second year, however, Siena College was also teaching women in its evening division. In fact, there was a woman in Siena’s first graduating class in 1941. Women began attending day classes in 1969 and could live on campus beginning in 1970.

Siena College was the brainchild of the president of St. Bonaventure and the Bishop of Albany and it went so quickly from concept to execution (some nine months) that there was not enough time to get a separate charter from New York State. So, during its first year, the College was the “Loudonville Unit of St. Bonaventure College” and only known informally as “Franciscan College.” The State of New York gave St. Bernardine of Siena College a provisional charter in June 1938, so it became an autonomous institution. Because the charter was only provisional, however, Siena’s first graduating class technically received degrees in the name of the University of the State of New York, not the College. In March 1942, the College was granted a permanent charter.

Siena College’s first faculty consisted of seven friars (who taught several courses and carried out various administrative duties) and one layman (not surprisingly, an accountant). Since 1937, Siena College, its student body and faculty, and course offerings have grown enormously and become much more diverse. Siena College offers a broad array of undergraduate degrees in the areas of science, social science, humanities, and business, as well as the graduate programs: M.B.A., M.S. in Accounting, and Advanced Certificate in Data and Analytics.

Scope of Collection

The Siena College Archives and Special Collections digital collection includes documents and artifacts from the Archives which tell Siena College’s history. The collection also includes rare books, manuscripts, manuscript leaves, facsimile editions, and other special materials from the Siena College Special Collections.