Former Sacramento State President Don Gerth, second from right, and his wife, Bev, cut the ribbon on the newly named Donald and Beverly Gerth Special Collections and University Archives, as President Robert S. Nelsen and Amy Kautzman, the Library's dean and director, look on. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

Former Sacramento State President Don Gerth and his wife, Beverly, are a big reason the University has a robust Special Collections and University Archives, so it’s only natural that the collections now bear the Gerth name.

The University announced the renaming earlier this summer in recognition of the Gerths’ longtime service and support for Sacramento State and the CSU. That support includes a $300,000 gift for the collections now named the Donald and Beverly Gerth Special Collections and University Archives. The gift will allow University Library staff to modernize the archives and make them more accessible and useful to students, faculty, staff and the public.

Don Gerth was president of Sacramento State from 1984 to 2003, following eight years as the president of CSU Dominguez Hills.

“It was under Don’s leadership that we took special collections and really turned it into a highly effective research center,” says James Fox, director of the Special Collections and University Archives. “Don and Bev saw the impact of a special collections and university archives at a major university.

“There are no two people more fitting to have our special collections named for than Don and Bev.”

In addition to containing historical records from Sacramento State, the Special Collections and University Archives also hold a wide variety of unique historical research. They include the Japanese American Archival Collection, which chronicles the Japanese American experience of immigration and settlement to the United States, as well as World War II internment, redress, and reparations; the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection, one of the largest collections of Greek culture in the United States; and records documenting the political and cultural history of the Sacramento region.

Thanks to the Gerths’ support, the Library was able to train staff on new software that can catalog and access digital collections, as well as purchase supplies necessary to better preserve existing collections, according to Amy Kautzman, dean and director of the University Library. In addition, the Library and Don Gerth filmed a four-part video series about Sacramento’s role as the state capital’s university.

“The Gerths’ gift allows us to honor the past, build on our holdings of our history, and build future collections that will serve the research needs of our students, faculty, and researchers from around the world,” Kautzman says.

Don Gerth has long been a champion of preserving the CSU’s legacy. Following his retirement after more than four decades with the system, he published a book about the history of the CSU titled The People’s University.

“Libraries have been important to Bev and me all of our lives, and they’re certainly central to the work of a university, so it’s easy to support them,” Gerth says.

To learn more, visit the Donald and Beverly Gerth Special Collections and University Archives page on the Sac State website. – Jonathan Morales