Allen Carl Larson Collection of Conrad N. Hilton and Sisters of Loretto Correspondence

Title:  Allen Carl Larson Collection of Conrad N. Hilton and Sisters of Loretto Correspondence 

Date(s): 1958-1963 

Extent:  1 box 

Repository: Webster University Archives, St. Louis, Missouri 

Name of Creator: Allen Carl Larson 

Administrative/Biographical History:  
Dr. Allen Larson joined the music faculty of Webster College as it was then called in 1973. As he was moving into a house on campus upon his arrival, he found some file folders in a pile of trash. The materials that he rescued turned out to include correspondence pertaining to the funding of the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts which opened in 1966. Most of the letters were by Sister Mary Francetta Barberis (1900-1984), president of Webster College from 1958-1965; Sister Jacqueline Grennan (1926-2012), vice-president and later president from 1965-1969; and Conrad Nicholson Hilton (1887-1979), the well-known hotelier.   

Conrad Hilton was familiar with the religious order having been taught by the Sisters of Loretto as a boy in New Mexico. Later he became acquainted with Sister Francetta when she was in charge of the Loretto Academy in El Paso, Texas and helped her fund a building project on that campus. When Sister Francetta came to Webster in 1958 and began making plans for a fine arts complex, she and Sister Jacqueline convinced Hilton to donate most of the funding for the Loretto-Hilton Center. 

Allen Carl Larson, Professor Emeritus of Webster University, led the Webster Symphony Orchestra for 36 years. Upon his retirement from the university in 2009, he began work on a book which would chronicle his discovery of the correspondence and include selections of the letters. In 2019, he published The Sisters Backstage: a Story of Faith, Perseverance, & the Loretto-Hilton Theatre. 

Scope and Content: Items in the Allen Carl Larson Collection were created between 1958 and 1963. The collection consists mostly of letters, the majority of which are between Sister Mary Francetta Barberis, Sister Jacqueline Grennan, and Conrad N. Hilton. The collection’s focus is on the funding of various projects at Webster College (now called Webster University) and the relationships and personal lives of the correspondents. There is also some discussion of events of the time, including the Waldorf Hotel Strike of 1962. 

System of Arrangement: Correspondence is arranged in chronological order. 

Series 1: Correspondence


     F1. Correspondence 1958-1961 
     F2. Correspondence 1962 
     F3. Correspondence 1963 

Series 2: Reports  


     F4. [Sr. Jacqueline Grennan’s narrative of a fundraising trip to New York City May 12-16, 1962.] 

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use. 

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright restrictions may apply. 

Language(s): Materials entirely in English. 

Appraisal, Destruction, and Scheduling Information: Donated original news clippings were on unrelated topics and were either discarded or added to other record groups. The three photographs in the donation were not retained as they were duplicates of images already in the university’s general photograph collection. 

Related Archival Materials: The following sources provide additional information on the Loretto-Hilton Center and Sister Jacqueline Grennan (later known as Jacqueline Grennan Wexler).  

Loretto-Hilton Center Collection 
Jacqueline Grennan Wexler Collection 

Immediate Source of Acquisition: Gift from Allen Larson, December 3, 2019.