Suffolk University, in downtown Boston, began as a law school in 1906. Its founder, Gleason Archer, Sr., was given money for his own schooling by a benefactor who asked that he extend the same favor to others. Archer opened what was then Archer’s Evening Law School as an affordable option for students with full-time day jobs, eventually renaming it Suffolk School of Law and moving the college to his downtown law offices. By 1930, it was one of the largest law schools in the country; in 1934, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was added.
The Rosalie K. Stahl Center, across the street from the Omni Parker House Hotel, was acquired by the university in 2005 and named for Suffolk University trustee Rosalie Stahl. The building sits on the site of the former Tremont House, razed in 1895, where Davy Crockett and Charles Dickens were once guests. Today, the Stahl Center hosts Suffolk’s Mildred F. Sawyer Library, which boasts over 128,000 books and 144,000 documents on microfilm. The library is also home to the famous Clark Collection of African American Literature, founded in 1971 by English professor, Dr. Edward Clark. Clark began to collect texts—in particular, 20th century fiction, poetry, and literary criticism—in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. His objective was to amass the complete works of all black American writers since the 1700s, though he took special interest in black writers with ties to New England. The Clark Collection currently contains over 6,000 works, by more than 2,730 African American authors. Clark said of his work,
“I believed that next to knowing a people personally, one can know them most through art and especially literary art, where the complexity of human beings is explored at the fullest possible range.”
The Stahl Center is also the headquarters of the nonprofit Salamander, Inc., which publishes Salamander—a literary journal of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—twice a year. Established by Jennifer Barber in 1992 and run out of her attic for many years, the magazine moved to Suffolk University in 2005.