The Archivist’s Nook: Collecting the Sacred and Secular – The Museum at CUA

Christ Pantokrator Enthroned by Thomas Xenakis (1997)
Christ Pantokrator Enthroned by Thomas Xenakis (1997)

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, the Museum Collection at CUA is the oldest part of the American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives. The first donations date to before CUA opened in 1889. Items were displayed in Caldwell Hall until 1905, and thereafter, until 1976, parts of the collection were either displayed in McMahon Hall, Mullen Library, or in storage. Since then the collection has been stored in Curley Hall, and more recently parts in Aquinas Hall or with items being used in campus exhibitions, often the May Gallery in Mullen, or loaned to secure campus offices to be displayed and enjoyed as office decoration.

CUA continues to accept a small number of artifacts as part of its manuscript collections along with paintings, sculptures, and other objects from individual donors. In 1976, responsibility for the museum was taken up by the American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives (then known as the Department of Archives and Manuscripts), though it was not until 1994 that a project to establish a comprehensive and descriptive catalog of the entire museum collection was undertaken.  The museum collection today includes art works and artifacts representing different periods and genres, totaling about 5,000 pieces. For more on the history of the Museum, see http://archives.lib.cua.edu/musecol.cfm. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Collecting the Sacred and Secular – The Museum at CUA”

The Archivist’s Nook: The Fledgling Field of Educational Archivy

Mr. Jefferson, archives-promoter and denizen of CUA pre-history.
Thomas Jefferson, archives-promoter and denizen of CUA pre-history

Way way back in 1791, at the dawn of the American experiment in democracy, Thomas Jefferson put something prescient to paper:  “Let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.”  Surely Mr. Jefferson put his money where his mouth was when he donated his collection of 6,487 books to the Library of Congress, forming its core collection, and preserved his own papers for future scholars.

I’d argue, too, that Jefferson was an outreach kind of guy.  He wanted “what remains” of lives lived, as in the archival records of public servants in particular, out in the public sphere, where future generations could examine and learn from them.  So went the way of archives in America.  Generally speaking, American archives are open and accessible to the public, and have become more so over time.

Thanks to archival records, in fact, we know that Jefferson had ties to the Catholic University of America here in Washington, D.C.  It was Jefferson who advised Samuel Harrison Smith, a Philadelphia native, to relocate to what is now the campus of Catholic University, in order to establish Washington’s first newspaper, the National Intelligencer. Smith and his wife, Margaret Bayard Smith, followed Mr. Jefferson’s advice and built a home that would remain part of the Catholic University campus until it was demolished in 1970.

The circulation of archival information is the province of the Education Archivist. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: The Fledgling Field of Educational Archivy”

The Archivist’s Nook: The Archives at CUA

Photograph from the opening ceremony for the Archives at CUA, December 8, 1949, with, left to right, Patrick O'Boyle, Archbishop of DC and Chancellor of the University, Fr. Henry Browne, first CUA Archivist, and Wayne Grover, Archivist of the United States
Photograph from the opening ceremony for the Archives at CUA, December 8, 1949, with, left to right, Patrick O’Boyle, Archbishop of DC and Chancellor of the University, Fr. Henry Browne, first CUA Archivist, and Wayne Grover, Archivist of the United States

Though there was a museum at The Catholic University of America (CUA) going back to the university’s founding in the late 19th century, the Archives at CUA originated much later as shortly before World War II Msgr. Francis Haas began collecting the papers of important Catholic labor leaders such as Terence Powderly, head of the Knights of Labor (1879-1893), and John Mitchell, president of the United Mine Workers of America (1898-1908). These papers were stored in Mullen Library, but there was no staff to organize nor rooms where researchers might examine them. After the war, history faculty, particularly Rev. John Tracy Ellis, worried that university history and of Catholic Americans generally was being lost through neglect of vital records and papers.

As a result of Ellis’ advocacy, a committee that included Msgr. Edward Jordan (the vice rector), Mr. Eugene Willging (acting director of the library), and Rev. Henry Browne, was formed to establish an archives envisioned as the “memory” of the university, a depository for collection of the nation’s Catholic leaders and important organizations, and a resource for the history of Catholics in the American labor movement. The Archives officially opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 1949) in an impressive ceremony that included Wayne Grover, archivist of the United States; Archbishop O’Boyle, chancellor of the university; Ernst Posner, archivist of American University and a seminal theorist of archives; Philip Brooks, president of the Society of American Archivists; and Dr. Guy Ford Stanton, executive director of the American Historical Association (see photograph above). They spoke of the importance of archives in the preservation of culture, and, specifically, of the Catholic Church’s long tradition as a keeper of historical records.   Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: The Archives at CUA”

The Archivist’s Nook: Introduction to American Catholic Archives

Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, MD, 1884
NCE 2334 Baltimore, Councils of. Clarke, Richard H (1827-1911) author. New Catholic Encyclopedia. Entry: Baltimore, Councils of. Caption: Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, 1884–from Clarke’s ‘History of the Catholic Church in the United States.’ Size: f. Source: Unknown. Permission: Permission already obtained for NCE, PD. Image #: 116714.

Before the 1960s, almost no dioceses had more than part-time archivists, only a few Catholic colleges and universities devoted much attention or resources to the collection and preservation of Catholic documents, and most religious orders had hardly even considered the need to create archives. Professional training among archivists in Catholic institutions was virtually unheard of and standards of professional practice nonexistent.

Since then, increased public interest in history (reflected in the formation of new history museums, the popularity of historic preservation, and the increase in the numbers and professionalism of public history personnel) has been mirrored by the development of archives within the Church.

In 1974, in preparation for the nation’s Bicentennial celebration and after effective lobbying by several historians, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued “A Document for Ecclesiastical Archives.” The bishops noted the general neglect of Catholics in the writing of American history and conceded that that neglect had been caused, at least in part, by historians’ lack of “access to the pertinent documents of bishops, dioceses, religious orders.” The document urged all bishops who did not have an archivist to appoint one quickly. More recently, in 1997, the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church contended that “Archives are places of memory which must be preserved, transmitted, renewed, appreciated, because they represent the most direct connection with the heritage of the Church community.” The Commission went on to encourage professional training of archival staffs. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Introduction to American Catholic Archives”

“American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present” – Thursday, March 12, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Caldwell Auditorium

Picture1The Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (CUA), in conjunction with The American Catholic History Research Center & University Archives (CUA) and the Office of Migration and Refugee Policy (USCCB), will be hosting a conference entitled American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present on Thursday, March 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Caldwell Auditorium. The purpose o the conference is to “bring historians and policy experts together to compare how Catholics in the United States have responded to new immigrant groups, from the nineteenth century to the present.” Three expert panels will discuss such issues as national policy debates, culture and religious life, and immigrant workers.

For more information, including a detailed schedule of events and a link to R.s.v.p., please visit the event website.

American Religious Responses to the Holocaust Course

The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives and the Catholic University Department of Education announce a new professional development course for Catholic High School teachers to be held on the campus of Catholic University and at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.  The course, American Religious Responses to the Holocaust, will run from July 8-12, 2013.  For details, see American Religious Responses to the Holocaust Course.

Unigenitus cataloging project update

Three hundred early eighteenth-century French and Latin titles from the Albani collection, many of them the only exemplars in the United States, are now cataloged and available to researchers in Rare Books and Special Collections (214 Mullen). A sampling of their content may be found at the RBSC blog:   http://ascendonica.blogspot.com/

Congratulations to our 2013 Mohler Grant Winners!

Deborah Beckel, Ph.D., has been awarded a Mohler grant for her project examining women and the Knights of Labor in the South.  She is the author of Radical Reform: Interracial Politics in Post-Emancipation North Carolina (University of Virginia Press, The American South Series, 2011). Originally from Georgia, Beckel received her undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College, her masters’ degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her Ph.D. from Emory University. She has worked as a librarian and archivist, and as a documentary editor.  A resident of Virginia, she previously taught women’s and gender studies at Sweet Briar College and currently teaches history at Lynchburg College.

For his work examining the Protestant image in the Catholic mind William Cossen will receive a Mohler grant in 2013.  Mr. Cossen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History and a member of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at The Pennsylvania State University, studying under the direction of Philip Jenkins and Amy Greenberg.  His dissertation is currently titled “The Protestant Image in the Catholic Mind,” and it will examine the construction of Protestant identity by American Catholics in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.  Mr. Cossen is the recipient of a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Emory University in 2008 and a Master of Arts degree with honors in History from Penn State in 2012.

The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives accepts applications for Mohler Travel Grants every year.  For more information on the Mohler Grants, see: http://archives.lib.cua.edu/Mohler.cfm

 

Rare Books launches the Unigenitus collection cataloging project

After some 80 years at CUA, the collection of pamphlets and manuscripts related to the 1713 papal bull Unigenitus is being cataloged in advance of the 300th anniversary of this document, issued by Pope Clement XI to combat the doctrinal errors of Jansenism.

More information on this collection,  once part of  Pope Clement’s library,  may be found on the RBSC blog:

http://ascendonica.blogspot.com/2012/05/unigenitus-101.html

As cataloging progresses more details will be available on specific items in this extensive collection, along with information about the project’s impact on other departmental activities, including possible reading room closures.

 

125th CUA Anniversary Guide to Library Resources now available

This year the Catholic University of America (CUA) celebrates the 125th anniversary of it’s founding.  In honor of this momentous occasion the library has put together a Guide of Library Resources.  The purpose of this guide is to help those interested in the history of CUA to locate information  available in the University Libraries. Please take a look and we hope you find this guide useful.