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Ernst C. Schwidder Collection

Identifier: sc.2013.01.14

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of sixty-eight tubes of plans and drawings; six boxes of mixed materials including drawings, photographs, posters, and documents; four biography scrapbooks covering the years 1953-1974; a liturgical artist notebook; thirty-four boxes of slides that have been scanned; and an additional thirteen boxes of slides that have not been scanned; two boxes of unprocessed materials.


  • 1953 - 2013


Conditions Governing Access

Researchers may request the scanning of previously unscanned slides per the policies of Valparaiso University Archives and Special Collections.

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection. Access to the collection is in accordance with the policies of the Valparaiso University Archives and Special Collections, Valparaiso University.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to reproduce or publish material from the collection should be directed to the Valparaiso University Archives and Special Collections, Valparaiso University. Preferred Citation: [item], [folder title], [box no.], Ernst C. Schwidder Collection, Valparaiso University Archives & Special Collections, Valparaiso University.

Biographical / Historical

Ernst Carl Schwidder (also known as Ernest C. Schwidder), former faculty member and first head of the Department of Art of Valparaiso University, was born in Saint Louis, Missouri on November 9, 1931 to the Rev. Ernest F. and Florence (Sieckmann) Schwidder. His father was the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Seattle for many years. He attended public and parochial schools for his early education and in 1949 graduated Concordia Academy in Portland, Oregon where he received pre-theological training. He received his B.A. in 1953 and his M.F.A. in 1955 from the University of Washington. His thesis, Contemporary Trends in Art as Applicable to the Liturgical Tradition of the Lutheran Church, was a look into how the Reformation influence the development of Christian art and the use of traditional forms in modern idiom within the current church of the Reformation. On June 8, 1958 he married Margaret Thompson in Leland, Iowa.

Before arriving at Valparaiso University in 1958, Schwidder was an instructor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and Ashland College in Ashland, Ohio. Schwidder was hired by Valparaiso University to establish a Department of Art and curate the Sloan Art Collection. Due to Schwidder’s efforts Valparaiso was able to first offer the major of art in the 1960-61 academic year. He was the first chairman of the Association of Artists and Craftsmen of Porter County, a nonprofit organization that was founded after a group of local artists established the first juried Chesterton Art Fair.

In the spring of 1962, he took a leave of absence from Valparaiso to work as an architectural designer for Charles Stade and Associates of Park Ridge, Illinois. Shortly thereafter, in 1964, he returned to the Northwest where he taught at Seattle Pacific University. In 1967 he moved on to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma where he taught until his retirement in 1992. He served as deacon at his own parish, Grace Lutheran Church of Tacoma.

Schwidder was widely recognized for his work in ecclesiastical art and architecture. He was not only expert in the design of buildings for worship, and their appropriate furnishing, but also in liturgy and was very much involved with theology. He lectured at seminaries, presented papers at liturgical institutes, and had a number of articles published in various church journals. He was involved in over 350 church building or renovation projects and his work can be seen throughout the United States and Canada. A number of projects he was involved in have received awards from the American Institute of Architects or allied organizations. His art has been exhibited in such locales as Brazil, Moscow, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Seattle, and Portland.

Schwidder served on various Lutheran consultations and commissions on liturgical art and architecture and was certified as a Liturgical Consultant by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. He was a member of the Liturgical Conference, the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, and an allied member of the American Institute of Architects.

Ernst C. Schwidder died on June 2, 1998 in Seattle, Washington.


20 Cubic Feet (2 boxes containing drawings, posters, and documents; 4 document boxes containing mixed materials; 5 notebooks; 5 boxes containing 6 boxes of scanned slides each; 3 boxes containing 16 boxes of slides not scanned; 68 tubes of plans and drawings [stored remotely])

Language of Materials



Box 1: Large Liturgical Figures, Rolled Liturgical Vestment Drawings (study in vestment design), Rolled Liturgical Art, Alphabet, Drawings, Portraits, Towers, Schwidder/Associates Items, Signage, Carved Furnishings, Processional Crosses, Torches, etc.;

Box 2: Liturgical Arts/Figures, Misc. Drawings, Misc. Personal Information, Misc. Furnishings, Figure Groups, Stations of the Cross, Vestment Designs, Proposed VU Crucifix, Various Liturgical Art, Posters;

Box 3: Deaccessioned;

Box 4: Southwest Washington Chapter American Institute of Architects 1991 Member Directory, Misc. Personal Items, Copies of Articles/Publications, Cressets, Portfolio, Immanuel Year Book (1912-62), Ernst Schwidder Liturgical Artist Booklets (Joel Nickel & Richard Tietjen), Valparaiso Univ. Pub., Valparaiso, Indiana;

Box 5: Artists Architectural Dreams, Bid with Churches, Biography (Misc.), Bio of E. Schwidder with Churches, Brazil Art Show, Cost Schedule for Clients, Human Habitation, Lists/Map, Job Records, Schwidder Brochures, Schwidder Bulletin Covers, Schwidder Design Projects, Schwidder Cards, Schwidder MFA Thesis, Schwidder Photos, Schwidder Project, Signs, Southwest Reference, Various Slides for Lectures, Schwidder Torch;

Box 6 & Box 7: Various Churches (Information);

Biography Scrapbook 1953-60;

Biography Scrapbook 1960-63;

Biography Scrapbook 1963-67;

Biography Scrapbook 1967-74;

Liturgical Artist Notebook;

Slides Box #1: various themes includeing architecture, art, furniture, plan studies, stained glass, and vestments;

Slides Box #2: Churches in the following states: AK, AZ, B.C., CA, CO, IA, IL, IN, MI, NC, NV, OR, UT, WA, WI;

Slides Box #3: Churches in the following states: AK, B.C., CA, FL, IA, IL, IN, MD, MI, NC, OR, VA, WA, WI;

Slides Box #4: Churches in the following states: B.C., CA, IL, IN, MA, MN, MO, NC, NE, NV, OR, WA, WI;

Box of Slides A (not scanned): Architectural Presentation #1-#4, Cambridge, England (Various), Anna & Children, Family Relatives, Houses/Dog/Cars, Misc. Landscapes, Additional Family, Schwidder House II, ISP-Unknown, Costume Art, Schwidder Family Photos, Schwidder Japan, Schwidder Loft, Europe Art/Architecture, Schwidder Filmstrip/Personal;

Box of Slides B (not scanned): Unidentified Churches, Liturgical Art, Kitsch Art, Commercial Buildings, Neo-History (Post Modern), Bible Stories, Larry Metcalf, Mark Eric Gulsrud, Sculpture, Neo-Modern, Empty Slide Frames;

2 Boxes of Slides: Various Cities/Churches A-H (scanned), Various Cities/Churches H-Y (scanned);

68 Tubes of plans and drawings arranged by state

Ernst C. Schwidder Collection
In Progress
Rebecca Ostoyich
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Many thanks to Joel Nickel and Richard Tietjen for all of their hard work on organization and documentation of this collection.

Repository Details

Part of the Valparaiso University Special Collections Repository

1410 Chapel Drive
Valparaiso IN 46383 United States