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Archival Collections

This guide provides descriptions of some of Webster University's archival collections

Biography and finding aid

black and white photographic portrait of Marita Woodruff

Marita Woodruff (née Ann Ruth Michenfelder) was born December 7, 1927, and grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis not far from the institution where she would spend much of her professional life. She was active in theater in high school, performing in productions such as Arsenic and Old Lace. She attended Webster College (later to be known as Webster University) and majored in Speech. She later earned a Master's degree from St. Louis University and did advanced studies at Yale University and the University of Michigan.

Upon graduation from Webster in 1949, Woodruff entered the Sisters of Loretto order and taught speech and drama in various Catholic schools before coming back to Webster in 1957. She chaired the drama department until 1969, a period of growth and change in the department as well as the university. She was also involved in the design of the Loretto-Hilton Theatre which opened on the Webster campus in 1966. During that premiere season, she became the first nun to join the Actor's Equity Association.

Woodruff directed more than 80 productions during her tenure. Among her awards were the following:

  • 1967 "Newsmaker" award from the St. Louis Chapter of Theta Sigma Phi (national honorary society for women in journalism)
  • Messing Faculty Award in 1978
  • Amoco Gold Medallion for Excellence in 1982
  • Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1992
  • Medal of Excellence by the American College Theatre Festival in 1998
  • St. Louis Arts and Education Award in 1998

Woodruff retired from the university in 1998 and passed away February 17, 2014.

black and white photograph of Marita Woodruff standing at chalkboard

Ann Marita Woodruff (nee Michenfelder). (2014) Webster-Kirkwood Times.

Ann Marita Woodruff: Obituary. (2014, February 23). St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jacobsen, Natascha. (1998, April 30-May 8). Mother of the Loretto-Hilton retires. The Journal, vol. 43, no. 14, p. 13.

Marita Woodruff (personal communication, March 8, 2004). Webster University Oral History Program Recording #2.

Newmark, Judith. (2014, February 18). Marita Woodruff, 86, helped found the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Schuster, J.M. (1998, Summer). Outstanding educators: Retiring faculty members reflect on their careers. Webster World, 4, 2–7.

Sister Marita loves people; Theatre offers rich experience. (1964, May). Webster Alumnac, vol. 3, no. 4, p. 4.

Photograph courtesy of Claudia Burris. Property of Webster University.


Marita Woodruff Collection on Webster University Theater


approximately 1960s

Physical extent

Five document boxes containing 6 folders of documents and approximately 1000 photographs

Name of Creator

Woodruff, Marita; Webster University

Administrative/Biographical History

a brief biographical note about Marita Woodruff is available.


Contains primarily photographs from theater productions at Webster University in the 1960s. Includes some photographs taken of Webster students visiting the statue of William Shakespeare in Tower Grove Park (St. Louis), at one time an annual ritual performed around the time of Shakespeare's birthday. Several photographs are of Michael Flanagan, founding artistic director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and a faculty member at Webster College. Another subject of various photographs is Theatre Impact, a professional and student theater troupe which performed outdoors in the summers from 1962–1965. Marsha Mason, 1964 Webster graduate and Academy Award-nominated actress, was a member of Theatre Impact.

Also has a miscellaneous collection of documents, especially programs and publicity related to the Shakespeare Pilgrimages held in the spring. Marita Woodruff consulted with Tyrone Guthrie, renowned director and founder of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, on the design and construction of the Loretto-Hilton Theatre. Three letters from Guthrie to Woodruff are included in this collection.

System of Arrangement

The bulk of the files are in alphabetical order by name of production.

Conditions of Access and Use

The collection is open for research use by appointment only.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Languages and Scripts of the Material

Materials entirely in English.

Finding Aids

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Marita Woodruff in 1998.