Meet the Team


Kyle Roberts — Assistant Professor of History — Loyola University Chicago

Kyle Roberts (Williams College, BA ’95; University of Pennsylvania, MA, PhD ’07) is Assistant Professor of Public History and New Media in the History Department at Loyola University. He teaches courses on public history, digital humanities, religion, and North America and the Atlantic World in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. He is the Director of the Jesuit Libraries Project and the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.


Bianca Barcenas — Junior (History) — Loyola University Chicago

I am a Junior from Portland, Oregon, and came to Chicago to immerse myself in history. History has been my passion ever since elementary school (to eight-year-old me, nothing was cooler than The Titanic or King Tut), so it was no surprise that it became the subject to pursue in college. I really enjoy researching information for papers and projects; I just love learning about historical moments and figures too much!  While studying history, I am also pursuing my love of technical theatre at Loyola. Ultimately, I would like to go to graduate school to study Public History, then pursue a career in archives.

Being a part of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project will allow me to gain more experience in analyzing archived material. From completing the Ramonat Seminar my Sophomore year, I gained a large appreciation for such documents, especially those where I can connect my own story to them. The JLPP will be a great way for me to dive into primary research and find a deeper meaning from seemingly simple texts.  I am very excited and fortunate to be working on this project, and I cannot wait to see where this takes me!


Roman Krasnitsky — Junior (History) — Loyola University Chicago

Born in Moscow, Russia in 1995, I moved to the U.S. at the age of 8 and converted from Russian Orthodoxy to Catholicism when I was 10. My work with library collections started in high school; during my years at Evanston Township, I had the privilege of caring for the rare and antique book collection in the school library. After graduation in 2013, I entered Loyola as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Chicago. At one point during my year and a half in seminary, I was appointed to the arguably bizarre task of purging “heretical and heterodox” books from the seminary’s library. This experience of literary censorship within the world of Catholic academia was what inspired me to take on the task of examining the role and treatment of so-called “heterodox” books in the library of St. Ignatius College.

Having left seminary halfway through my sophomore year, I am currently a History major in the College of Arts and Sciences. I aspire to eventually earn a doctorate and teach history at a university level. My main interests in the field are Humanist history, Catholic Church history, as well as the history of the Russian Empire. Outside of history, my interests include travel, language learning (in addition to English, I speak Russian and German and have some competence in Latin), and reading Russian literature.


Gustav Roman — Senior (English, Minors in Theology and Catholic Studies) — Loyola University Chicago

I was born in Chicago where I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by the city’s rich Catholic artistic history. I’ve found this integral to my academic interests, in choosing to attend Chicago’s Jesuit university, as well as holding my focus within the field of broader literary study. Although my interests are primarily in British Renaissance and Romantic era poetry, I find myself constantly returning to the religious, imaginative, and theological worlds that shaped many of the authors and their works.

I was enormously honored and excited to begin work on the Jesuit Libraries Project. Not only is it a chance to dive deep into analyzing Jesuit intellectual history, but it is a fascinating opportunity to explore to relationship between Catholicism, theology, literature, and literacy in 19th century America. The project gives me the wonderful chance to work hands on with the original books from the St. Ignatius library and examine through their publication and distribution histories the larger theological and social history of the Jesuits and religious institutions in America.

Dan Snow — History Graduate Student — Loyola University Chicago

I’m a Chicago native from the city’s far Northwest side. I’m in my third year at Loyola, having started in 2013. I’m currently working on my undergrad degree in History, but I am enrolled in a combined BA/MA program offered by the History Department. I am primarily interested in studying industrial and nineteenth-century Britain, particularly from a political and military perspective. Yet the Catholic Church has always been an interesting topic to me, and Catholic issues continue to draw my interest.

I spent last summer interning at the Swedish-American Museum in Andersonville. This great opportunity allowed me to sift through piles of century old Swedish books that were published in Chicago around the dawn of the twentieth century. These works, many of which had elaborately designed cover art and which were fascinating to look at, spoke to Chicago’s ethnic past and a community many that overlook today. Looking through pages of books in complete Swedish published on Dearborn or State Street, it was hard not to reflect on how these books offer a timestamp of a Chicago long since gone. My time in Andersonville motivated me to work with the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project so that I could again use books to look at the communities of the past, this time focusing on the Jesuits of St. Ignatius College and beyond. I hope that my time with this project will allow me to research the individuals who created, sold, and bought these books.


Katherine Ziobro — Junior (English/Creative Writing, Minor in Shakespeare Studies) — Loyola University Chicago

I grew up in the little town of Delafield, Wisconsin, and I have always been a bibliophile (is there a smell more nostalgic or pleasant than that from an old book?). Since arriving at Loyola, my interests and studies have developed into a concentration on plays and performance (specifically Brechtian techniques), the examination of the continuous political relevance of plays to society, as well as the writing of plays, short stories, and poetry.

I became immensely interested in the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project because, firstly, it’s a liberal arts dream in the digital humanities and also because of the possibility of researching, in the spirit of the religious origins of theatre, the plays purchased and valued by Loyola’s Jesuits in the nineteenth century. My plan is to ask what plays and playwrights (and possibly works of poetry) were found necessary to bring to the library and further: what Catholic, political, and social implications of that play could have made it important to teach or even perform within Loyola’s Jesuit community at that historical moment. I am looking forward to the incredible opportunity of working with the JLPP because I know it will provide me with skills in research, the digital humanities, and a newfound understanding of Jesuit values and ideals that I intend to keep close to heart as I pursue teaching theatre history and creative writing at the collegiate level. In my spare time, I host a talk show on Loyola’s radio station every Sunday and I am the co-president of Loyola’s only student literary and arts magazine, Diminueno & Cadence.

Past Team Members

Michael Albani 6

Michael J. Albani — History Graduate Student — Loyola University Chicago

I hail from Roseville, MI, a small suburb east of the Motor City. In the Fall of 2014 I moved to Chicago to attend Loyola after earning my Bachelor of Arts degree from Albion College in both History and English with Creative Writing Emphasis. Prior to pursuing a graduate level education, though, I was a member of the interpretive staff for Colonial Michilimackinac, an open-air living history museum in northern Michigan. There, I had the opportunity not only to recreate the lives of 18th century British soldiers, fur traders, and voyageurs, but also do research using the wide breadth of primary sources collected by Mackinac State Historic Parks.

What first attracted me to the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project was the chance it presented me to learn more about the Society of Jesus in early Chicago. I have always been interested in American Catholic history, and books, in addition to holding value in their own right, are incredibly important and illuminating portals into the past. Additionally, the fact the ambition of this project is to create a public forum for discourse on Loyola’s historic texts made it instantly appealing. I look forward not only to what I can learn, but what I can help contribute to the historical community as a whole.


Joshua Arens — Public History Graduate Student — Loyola University Chicago
Personal Blog:

I’m originally from a little town outside of Milwaukee, WI known as Cedarburg and made my way to Loyola in the Fall of 2012 after graduating with a history major-archaeology minor from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. My history field experience includes research, curatorial/exhibit, and collections/archival internships at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago and the Milwaukee Public Museum. I am currently in the midst of my last semester at Loyola and serve as a Graduate Assistant Reference Librarian at the university library on campus.

When I’m not watching sports (yes, I am indeed a “Cheesehead”) my life revolves around history. My extensive knowledge on Christian history is in large part a result of my Catholic upbringing in addition to my general love for studying the history of religion in the world. I am grateful to Dr. Roberts for endorsing my role as project coordinator of this ground-breaking project that will ultimately reveal the rich cultural heritage of the early Jesuits at Loyola University and throughout the midwestern United States.

Erik Berner — Senior (English and History) — Loyola University Chicago

I grew up in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Lemont and neighboring Homer Glen, and attended high school at Providence Catholic in New Lenox.  I grew up in a Lithuanian family that participated in many folk traditions and instilled in me a sense of pride in my heritage.  From going to Lithuanian school on Saturdays and attending Lithuanian language Mass on Sundays, to my fifteen years as a Lithuanian folk dancer, my heritage has always been a unique part of my life.

I am currently a Senior pursuing my BA’s in History and English, as well as a Minor in International Studies.  I am not entirely sure of what I want to do after graduating, but am considering going into advocacy law.  I know that I want to help people and apply my interest in the world.  I am drawn to the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project because it allows me to indulge my independent intellectual curiosities in an environment I know very well; I currently work at the library at Water Tower Campus and spent countless hours at the Lemont Public Library as a child.  I am excited to see what I will be able to learn from such an intriguing project.

Brendan Courtois — Senior (History and Finance) — Loyola University Chicago

I’m from Parker, Colorado, a suburb south of Denver. I came to Loyola to study History and Finance after attending Regis Jesuit high school in Aurora, Colorado. I was excited to continue studying under the guidance of the Jesuits and hope to gain more insight into their education style through this project.

I’m very interested in how people view themselves within history and how they respond to their surroundings. This project presents the opportunity to see how educators balanced traditional schooling with the highly commercial city of Chicago that surrounded them.  I am excited to learn more about the library as a whole and how it reflected the city it resided in.


Helen Davies — Digital Humanities Graduate Student — Loyola University Chicago

I have studied and worked at Loyola University Chicago since 2005 when I moved to Chicago from Cincinnati, OH. My undergraduate degree from this institution is in History and Classics with minors in Latin, Anthropology and Medieval Studies. After graduating, I took a brief break from living in Chicago to earn a M.A. in Medieval Studies from the University of York in the U.K. After that, I returned to Loyola University Chicago to earn another M.A. – this time in Digital Humanities. Since completing that degree last year, I have been working in the Graduate School. In the fall, I will be leaving Chicago once again – this time to start a PhD in English at Ole Miss.

The Jesuit Library Provenance Project first seized my attention after I attended the project launch this past semester.  This amazing project combines my love of history, digital humanities, and old books. I have photographed old books at York Minster Library and the Newberry Library before for different projects, but never have I worked on something so closely essential to the history of my alma mater.  I hope to contribute to the project through helping expand their already fascinating digital presence while happily investigating some of the older material – maybe even practicing my Latin and paleography skills!


Zac Davis — Senior (Philosophy & Theology, Minor in Catholic Studies) — Loyola University Chicago

I grew up in Delaware, OH, birthplace of the 19th president of the United States and the best diner in the Midwest. I moved to Chicago in 2011 to pursue an undergraduate degree in philosophy and theology. I recently returned from a year of research abroad at Loyola’s Rome and Beijing campuses, and I’m looking forward to working with the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project as I finish up my senior year.

I’m a bit of a bibliophile myself, with a growing library and an appreciation of unread books. Initially I’m highly interested in concentrating on the philosophical and theological works found within the collection; however my academic interests, as most liberal arts students, fluctuate between disciplines often. The history of books is in fact one of many glaring holes in my education, and I’m already learning the great gift they give us as historians and members of the Loyola community.

Kyle Jenkins — Senior (History and Secondary Education) — Loyola University Chicago

Originally from Portland, OR, I came to Chicago 3 years ago to study at Loyola University. Though most of my time is devoted to completing my teaching degree, I have found time to participate in a whole host of opportunities through the History department. From interning at the Pritzker Military Library, to working as an Undergraduate Fellow at the Newberry Library, to completing my Honors History Thesis on the evolution of blues music in the 1960s, I have been able to indulge every one of my educational curiosities.

I came to work with the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project through a desire to combine my passion for history and education. The project’s mission to preserve such a wealth of information about our past and make it readily accessible is both vital and exciting. What’s more, getting the opportunity to develop materials that allow high school students to get invested and inspired by the JLPP is just as rewarding for me. I hope to learn all that I can about early Jesuit life, and help others learn just as much.

Aaron Kinskey — Senior (History, Minors in Art History, Catholic Studies, and Medieval Studies) — Loyola University Chicago

I was born and raised in Longfellow’s “Queen City of the West”: Cincinnati, Ohio. I came to Loyola in 2012 to study History with minors in Art History, Catholic Studies, and Medieval Studies. Although I have been interested in medieval history since high school, I cultivated my love for it when I studied abroad in Rome in the fall of 2014, and when I took a class at Durham University this past summer. I also helped lay some of the groundwork down for Loyola’s medieval labyrinth. I plan on attending graduate school and continuing my study in medieval history. I have considered teaching as well as working in libraries as a reference librarian.

I chose to work on the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project because in addition to my focus in medieval history, I have a strong interest in Catholic history in the Americas. I wrote a paper for my History of the American Indian class on Fr. Sebastian Rale and his mission in present-day Maine, and since then have been intrigued by Jesuit history. I am looking forward to working with old texts as well as learning digitization methods, valuable skills for becoming a librarian. I am strongly committed to the preservation of texts through digitization, and I am excited to help in re-creating the library at St. Ignatius.


Sarah Muenzer — Senior (History & Classical Civilization) — Loyola University Chicago
Personal Blog:

I’ve lived in the Chicago area for most of my life, and I honestly can’t think of living anywhere else (which is a little bit at odds with my love of travel). I began my career at Loyola as a math major but soon realized I felt unfulfilled by the work in my classes and quickly switched over to history. Most recently I spent the last semester working on an original research paper with the goal of ‘rediscovering’ the Currency Acts in the period of the American revolution. I think the urge to uncover the information inside ‘overlooked’ books is what drew me most strongly to the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.

One of the most exciting elements of history is tracing how an entity or institution changed and adapted over time, starting from its bare roots. My hopes for the project are to rediscover as much of the original library as possible that remains at Loyola, as well as determine the origins of the books before they arrived at Loyola. I hope to answer questions like; “How developed was the Jesuit community in the area during the founding of St. Ignatius College?” – “What books were considered crucial in creating the initial library?” Additionally, as I am a matriculating senior this spring, I see my work this semester as an opportunity to explore a possible graduate school and career path.

Jim Naughton

James Naughton — Senior (History, Minors in Asian Studies and International Studies) — Loyola University Chicago

I am from a fairly large suburb (Elk Grove Village) of Chicago and came to Loyola about a year ago. Here at Loyola, I am majoring in History with minors in International Studies and Asian Studies. My interests in history are varied and always changing, but if I had to narrow it down to my top three they would include American history 1945-1975, the history of the Catholic Church, and the history of books/literature. The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project is my first real dive into history fieldwork but I am looking forward to using this project as an opportunity to explore possible graduate school and/or career paths.

I joined the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project for a variety of reasons but two main ones are: 1) a belief that old books, periodicals, etc., and those who owned them can tell a fascinating story and 2) a passion for documenting and digitally archiving books that constitute part of the Catholic heritage here in Chicago. I hope that someday these books and periodicals can be preserved for future generations to use, learn and reflect on the rich Catholic heritage of Chicago.


Mark Neuhengen — Sophomore (History and Religious Studies) — Loyola University Chicago

I am originally from Niles, Illinois, a northwest suburb, where I attended Notre Dame College Prep. At Loyola, I am studying History and Religious Studies with minors in Islamic World Studies and Arabic Language and Culture. History is such a wide and dynamic field, so I find it difficult to narrow down what I am interested in. There always seems to be another interesting historical story to discover! My general interests include religious intellectual history and learning about how people have seen people, places, religions and cultures that they consider “different” from their own throughout history.

The Jesuit Library Provence Project is a place where this intellectual history comes alive through the books the Jesuits collected. By analyzing the books which 19th century Catholic priests found to be important, I believe that we can construct their worldview and uncover what they thought was important to learn (and in some cases not learn). Through study of these books, I believe that we can learn more about how our predecessors saw and interacted the world and subsequently inform us on how to be better citizens of this world.


María Palacio — Master’s Program in Digital Humanities — Loyola University Chicago

I come from Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. There I completed my undergraduate studies at the Universidad de los Andes where I graduated with a major in Literature and two minors, one in History and another in Journalism. I lived in Bogotá until the Fall of 2015 when I moved to Chicago to start the M.A in Digital Humanities at Loyola University. I gained experience in the Digital Humanities field by working at my previous university in a research project about the personal archive of the 20th century Colombian author R.H Moreno-Durán. I worked in the collection and classification of the author’s works and in the transcription of the author’s unpublished diaries. I also worked in the creation La Augusta Silaba, a website that holds R.H Moreno-Durán’s archive.

I find the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project very interesting because it combines my fascination with old documents and my profound interest in history and digital humanities. I am looking forward to enhance my transcribing skills as well as my markup language knowledge by working in this project, thus helping to create a bridge between libraries in the past and the present.


(Photo Courtesy of Sadia Anees)

Samantha Smith — Public History Graduate Student & MLIS — Loyola University Chicago & Dominican University

Born and raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I received my B.A. in Gender Studies with minors in English and History from Lawrence University in 2012. As an undergraduate, I participated in the Gettysburg Semester, a Civil War era studies immersion program through Gettysburg College. My experiences on the battlefield and at the National Military Park showed me how public history conservation, outreach, and preservation efforts impact communities on a daily basis. Additionally, I studied in Chicago through the A.C.M’s “Newberry Library Seminar: Research in the Humanities” program. Throughout my undergraduate career as well as on my year off, I worked in a variety of archival repositories and on a number of public history projects, including the AASLH award-winning exhibit, “Take Cover Neenah!: Backyard Family Fallout Shelters in Cold War America” at the Neenah Historical Society in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Currently, I am enrolled in the dual degree Public History MA & MLIS program through Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University. My seemingly disparate interests in twentieth-century American advertisements, funerary and mortuary studies, and punk culture, rely heavily on material and visual culture methodologies. The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project strives to restore the original St. Ignatius library, and in so doing, exposes interesting narratives about print and visual culture in national and global contexts. As the social media coordinator, I look forward to integrating my proclivity for the visual arts into my commitment to public outreach.

Evan T.

Evan Thompson — Senior (History, Minors in Anthropology, Catholic Studies, and Classical Civilization) — Loyola University Chicago

I’m from Decatur, Illinois and moved to Chicago 2 years ago. In the last two years I have worked on various projects for Loyola University including the photographing and transcription of the St. Ignatius College Library Catalogue, and an in-depth study of families of Loyola University students from the 1920’s. I have also done work for the Decatur Public Library on the organization, transcription, and preservation of documents concerning the League of Women’s Voters.

What drew me to the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project is what draws me to nearly every activity I participate in; the desire to preserve knowledge – not only for myself – but for others to make use of. I believe books are the most important tools for creating and maintaining knowledge that exist in the world. Books are the gateway not only into what others thought of the past but what they might know of our future. I hope to raise awareness of how important this book collection is so that it can be both protected and used again.


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