The Archivist’s Nook: African American History? You’re Standing On It

The Middleton House was the main house on the CUA property when it was a slave run plantation. Sold to the U.S. Catholic Bishops after the Civil War, the house served several purposes for the University until it was demolished in 1970.
The Middleton House was the main house on the CUA property when it was a slave run plantation. Sold to the U.S. Catholic Bishops after the Civil War, the house served several purposes for the University until it was demolished in 1970.

It’s African American History Month, and we’ve got all kinds of  African-American history here at The Catholic University of America.

In fact, you’re standing on it.  The original 65 acres purchased by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to found the University is rife with African American history.  It didn’t start out that way.  Initially, the first house built on the current CUA campus was built by Samuel Harrison Smith and Margaret Bayard Smith.  The Smiths were invited to settle in the young capital city in 1803 by President Thomas Jefferson and found the District’s first newspaper.  Later, the house passed on to James Middleton and his son Erasmus Middleton.  The Middleton family held it as a slave-run plantation, until the Emancipation Act of 1862 (the first emancipation act in the nation, by the way) liberated the slaves of Washington, D.C.  The house eventually became part of the CUA campus and was demolished in 1970.

During the Civil War, Fort Slemmer was established on the perimeter of campus.  One of 68 fortifications protecting the city during the war, the fort never saw action, but it did play its part in the Civil War.

Euphemia Haynes Lofton, Educational Superstar of the District of Columbia. Here, she is pictured with her Ph.D. in Mathematics from CUA. Haynes Lofton was the first African American woman to graduate with a doctoral degree in math in the U.S.
Euphemia Lofton Haynes, Educational Superstar of the District of Columbia. Here, she is pictured with her Ph.D. in Mathematics from CUA.  Lofton Haynes was the first African American woman to graduate with a doctoral degree in math in the U.S.

If we fan out a bit further into Washington, we can appreciate the contributions of CUA Alumna Euphemia Lofton Haynes to African American history locally.  The ambitious Euphemia Lofton graduated valedictorian of M Street High School in 1907, from Miner Normal School in 1909, and Smith College in 1914.  She earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics from CUA in 1943 with a dissertation titled Determination of Sets of Independent Conditions Characterizing Certain Special Cases of Symmetric Correspondences.  The degree gives her the distinction of being the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics in the United States.

Euphemia contributed quite grandly to the educational system of the District of Columbia.  In 1930 Dr. Lofton Haynes created the Mathematics Department at Miner’s Teacher’s College after she became a professor there in 1930. She remained the head of the Mathematics Department for almost 30 years. When she retired in 1959 Miner’s Teachers College had become the University of the District of Columbia.  She taught at all levels in the District of Columbia public school system, including elementary school, high school, and college.  Her family papers can be accessed at the CUA archives.

Who do you notice when you first look at this photo? Archives staff didn’t even see former President of the U.S., George Bush, when they first looked at this shot. Rather, they noticed their favorite researcher and historian of the African-American experience, Cyprian Davis, third in, the top row. Here he is pictured receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2001 at Notre Dame University.
Who do you notice when you first look at this photo? Archives staff didn’t even see former President of the U.S., George Bush, when they first looked at this shot. Rather, they noticed their favorite researcher and historian of the African-American experience, Cyprian Davis, third in, the top row. Here he is pictured receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2001 at Notre Dame University.

Another native Washingtonian and alumnus of CUA left his papers to the archives just this past year.  Father Cyprian Davis, author of the first history of African American Catholics in the United States, was a regular at the CUA Archives and a Benedictine monk at St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana.  Father Davis wrote the award-winning Black Catholics of the United States, among other books on the history of African-American Catholics .  Rest in Peace, Father Davis, and we will see that future researchers of African-American Catholicism have full access to your archive.

The Archivist’s Nook: Get Paranoid – Data Collection in Libraries

…with your user data?
…with your user data?

The issue of patron and student privacy has raged across library school classrooms and the profession in general since time immemorial. Indeed, my own MLIS final exam hinged upon presenting a cohesive (ha!) data collection plan for a mid-sized university that balanced the rights of students, the needs of institutions, and various legal requirements. Some librarians, energized by, for example, the Snowden revelations of 2013 or the fact that the Google education ecosystem tracks student activity with no opt-out clause, have kick-started initiatives to not only increase awareness of privacy issues but also help libraries take concrete steps to combat what could be interpreted as infringements on intellectual freedom. Whether setting up public Tor nodes (a core component of the Library Freedom Project) or using Riseup.net email addresses actually improves privacy or not is debatable, but one thing is clear – this is a conversation worth having. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Get Paranoid – Data Collection in Libraries”

The Archivist’s Nook: T.V. Powderly-Nineteenth-Century ‘American Idol’

Group portrait of leaders of the Knights of Labor, with Powderly prominent. T.V. Powderly Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).

January 22 is the birthday of Terence Vincent Powderly (1849-1924), a man not widely remembered in the twenty-first century, but a national celebrity, an ‘American Idol’ if you will, in the tumultuous era of the late nineteenth century. Born in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, to Irish-Catholic immigrants, Powderly was a reform minded Mayor of Scranton (1878-1884), head of the national Knights of Labor union (1879-1893), and federal bureaucrat (1897-1924).  He was also a supporter of Irish nationalism, serving in Clan na Gael, a secret Irish independence society, and the Irish Land League, a political organization supporting tenant farmers.

Labor friends and celebrities in old age: T.V. Powderly, Nineteenth-Century ‘American Idol’ with ‘Mother’ Mary Harris Jones, ‘The Miner’s Angel.’ Washington, D.C., 1909. T.V. Powderly Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).
Labor friends and celebrities in old age: T.V. Powderly, Nineteenth-Century ‘American Idol’ with ‘Mother’ Mary Harris Jones, ‘The Miner’s Angel.’ Washington, D.C., 1909. T.V. Powderly Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).

A railroad worker, Powderly joined the Scranton Local Assembly of the Knights of Labor in 1876, assuming the national leadership as Grand (later General) Master Workman, 1879-1893. The Knights came into national prominence during his tenure, in part due to his rousing public oratory, peaking in national membership and influence in 1886. At this point, Powderly was so popular there were babies named for him. However, failures in several labor disputes and a divisive power struggle saw the Knights rapidly decline and Powderly removed by a cabal involving John William Hayes, whose papers are also at CUA. Perhaps Powderly’s greatest achievement, greatly aided by Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore, was to bring about reconciliation between the labor movement and the Roman Catholic Church that distrusted and disapproved of labor organizations due to their secretive and ritualistic activities.

Immigrants, both detailed aliens and regular employees, working in an Ellis Island kitchen, Dec. 18, 1901. T.V. Powderly Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).
Immigrants, both detailed aliens and regular employees, working in an Ellis Island kitchen, Dec. 18, 1901. T.V. Powderly Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).

Campaigning for the Republicans in the 1896 presidential campaign, Powderly was rewarded by President William McKinley with appointment as Commissioner General of Immigration. Powderly’s efforts to reform conditions at Ellis Island prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to dismiss him in 1902, though he was reinstated in 1906 as a Special Immigration Inspector.  Powderly next served as Chief of the Division of Information, U.S. Bureau of Immigration, 1907-1921, and as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Commissioner of Conciliation, 1921-1924. He was also author of Thirty Years a/Labor (1889) and his posthumous memoirs, The Path I Trod (1940). In 1999 was honored as an inductee into the U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honor, joining figures such as rival Samuel Gompers and friend Mary Harris “Mother” Jones. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: T.V. Powderly-Nineteenth-Century ‘American Idol’”

The Archivist’s Nook: Married Priests – Crisis or Opportunity?

Mary Alma and James at Mass, “Mary Alma receives the Sign of Peace from her husband, 30 June 1982, The Leaven, ” James Parker Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).
Mary Alma and James at Mass, “Mary Alma receives the Sign of Peace from her husband,” 30 June 1982, The Leaven. James Parker Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).

This week’s post is guest authored by Marielle Gage, a CUA graduate student in History.

On Wednesday, 30 June 1982, Mary Alma Parker went to Mass. I do not know what the sermon was about, or what songs were sung, but I know she was there because a local newspaper reporter was there, and took her picture receiving communion from the officiating priest. This small, everyday event was hardly newsworthy, save that the celebrant was Reverend James Parker, her husband. He was the first married former Episcopalian clergyman in the United States to be ordained a Catholic priest. Under a program known as the Pastoral Provision, Rev. Parker had been accepted into the Church first as a convert and then as a consecrated priest. He remained deeply involved with the Provision, as well as the various conservative Episcopalian organizations he had associated with before his conversion, until his retirement in 2005. His papers, donated to ACUA by his wife, are a veritable treasure trove of information on the Pastoral Provision and the related Continuing Anglican movement.

“Episcopalians, Are You Unhappy?” Advertisement appealing to discontent within traditional Anglican circles, 18 April 1979, Albany Herald. James Parker Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).
“Episcopalians, Are You Unhappy?” Advertisement appealing to discontent within traditional Anglican circles, 18 April 1979, Albany Herald. James Parker Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).

The 1970’s had been a decade of crisis for the Episcopalian Church. Everything, it seemed to some, changed: the decade saw revision of the Book of Common Prayer, the easing of remarriage rules for the divorced, the ordination of women, and more. These issues’ passage into Episcopalian practice was met with consternation in more conservative circles. Some grit their teeth and bore it, some formed splinter groups that either petered out or limped on into the present day, but some took a more radical step: they returned to Rome. But these new converts specifically, the converting Episcopal churchmen presented a challenge to the Catholic Church. These men, who had been priests under their old religion, wished to continue their ministry under the new. But many of these men were married, as had been permitted in the Protestant sect, but emphatically was not in the Catholic. Could these men be somehow squeezed into the Church structure? The answer, tentatively, was yes. And thus the Pastoral Provision was born.

Parker Letter of Resignation Father Parker explains his resignation to his Episcopal parishioners, 20 April 1981. James Parker Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).
Parker Letter of Resignation. Father Parker explains his resignation to his Episcopal parishioners, 20 April 1981. James Parker Papers, The Catholic University of America (CUA).

Parker was heavily involved in the “Anglican Crisis” of the 70’s. As provincial of the Society of the Holy Cross an organization of Anglo Catholic priests Parker watched the radical departures from old practices with alarm: our collection reflects in particular his concerns surrounding women’s ordination. One particularly interesting item we received from Mary Alma is a journal he kept recording reactions he encountered on the topic. He also was an eyewitness to the 1977 St. Louis Congress, where the issue came to a head. Soon after, splinter groups began to separate themselves from the mainstream Episcopal Church, or look to join alternative Christian traditions. The Society of the Holy Cross elected Parker to represent their cause to the Catholic Church. While not everyone involved in the Society converted, Parker did, being ordained a Catholic priest on 29 June 1982. He continued to be involved in both the Continuing Anglican Movement he had left behind and the Pastoral Provision, serving for a long time as the secretary of Bernard Law (bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau at the time of Parker’s ordination), who had been appointed to oversee the Provision. His collection, which we have just finished processing, is an intriguing account of the ebbs and flows of ecumenical politics, the challenges of modernity, and the spiritual life of one remarkable priest.

The Archivist’s Nook: A Merry Treasure Chest Christmas to All!

A Holy Mother who looks like Audrey Hepburn? Treasure Chest, v. 11, n. 8, December 15, 1955.
A Holy Mother who looks like Audrey Hepburn? Treasure Chest, v. 11, n. 8, December 15, 1955.

The Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact comic book digital collection is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving, so what better archival collection to highlight during the Christmas holiday season? As readers of this blog know, The Treasure Chest is an outreach horn of plenty for any archivist, especially for a somewhat dyspeptic and mildly iconoclastic one as myself. It has been featured or at least referenced in three previous blog posts: Finding Your Way Around the Collections, Hark! The Digital Angel Comes! and Treasure Chest: Your Own Virtual Jesus. So, at the risk of going to the well one too often, we return to investigate the Treasure Chest’s always colorful and often inspiring Christmas covers.

Decorating the family tree! Treasure Chest, v. 6, n. 8, December 21, 1950.
Decorating the family tree! Treasure Chest, v. 6, n. 8, December 21, 1950.

The Treasure Chest was published, for most of its history, by George Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio for distribution to American Catholic schools, with a total of twenty annual Christmas covers for 1946-1962, 1964, 1966, and 1968. Not surprisingly, the majority of these illustrated covers (15 of 20) depict some version of the Holy Family in and around the manger, sometimes with the Star of Bethlehem present. One in particular (1955), depicts a Holy Mother Mary who bears a remarkable resemblance to screen beauty and legend Audrey Hepburn, then in her prominence (see right), while some others are reproductions of the works of famous Renaissance artists such as Lorenzo Lotto (1962) and Antonio Correggio (1964). Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: A Merry Treasure Chest Christmas to All!”

The Archivist’s Nook: Historic Stained Glass of Caldwell Chapel

Page from the original 1888 contract between Rt. Rev. John J. Keane and the Benzinger Brothers with the proposed window layout. [source: Office of the President/Rector Papers, ACUA]
Page from the original 1888 contract between Rt. Rev. John J. Keane and the Benzinger Brothers with the proposed window layout. [source: Office of the President/Rector Papers, ACUA]
On the 2nd of October, 1888, the first rector of the Catholic University of America signed a contract to purchase seventeen stained glass windows from the Benzinger Brothers, acting as agents of the Royal Bavarian Art Institute, F.X. Zettler of Munich, for $4,950, payable at installation. The agreement signed by the Rt. Rev. John J. Keane explicitly requested “the drawing of the figures to show in every line boldness of design and beauty and majesty of feature and form,” with the central Pentecost window to be “especially a masterpiece.” Before signing the agreement, Keane added—in his own slightly messy hand—the stipulation that the Royal Bavarian Art Institute would continually revise their cartoons, or large format drawings of the proposed windows, until he found the results satisfactory.

Saint Paul
Saint Paul

This purchase was one common to many Christian communities at the time, as the art of stained glass was experiencing a revival in mid to late 19th century Munich under the patronage of both King Ludwig I and King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Franz Xavier Zettler, the creator of the Caldwell stained glass windows, established his company in the 1870s. F.X. Zettler’s “Munich Style” windows became popular across the United States and can be found in St. Martin of Tours Church of Louisville, Kentucky and the Cathedral of Saint Andrew of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as at Catholic University. Windows like these would have been seen by the most well-known of American stained glass artisans, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and could have encouraged his own experiments in the medium. The Royal Bavarian Art Institute of F.X. Zettler still exists today in Germany as Franz Mayer of Munich, Inc. Check out Gail Tierney’s 1999 article “Franz Mayer and Company and Zettler Studios” for more information on the company’s history. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Historic Stained Glass of Caldwell Chapel”

The Archivist’s Nook: CUA Goes A Bowling

The 1936 Orange Bowl football
No, this partially deflated football on display at The Catholic University of America (CUA) does not belong to a certain legendary NFL quarterback from New England, but rather this is the ball used by the CUA 1936 Orange Bowl college football champion.

The end of the college football regular season is upon us, and for those who are big supporters of the sport, that means one thing is around the corner: Christmas.

Oh, and the football postseason as well.

For schools in the Football Championship Subdivision (the old 1-AA), Division II, and Division III, this means playoffs. For Football Bowl Subdivision schools (the former 1-A), this means bowl games. These post seasons games have been a part of college football since the early 20th century and, at least theoretically, pit teams with good to outstanding seasons against each other.

While our own CUA Cardinals currently compete in Division III (making the playoffs in 1997-99 and the ECAC Southeast Bowl in 2008), the team played at the upper levels of college football from 1910-1950. In two of those years, the Cardinals played in bowl games that are still around to this day: the 1940 Sun Bowl against Arizona State and, in perhaps the biggest game in CUA history, the 1936 Orange Bowl against the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Legendary CUA coach Dutch Bergman led both teams, with the team pulling off a stunning victory in the Orange Bowl against the Southeastern Conference powerhouse Rebels and fighting to a 0-0 tie with the Border Conference representative Sun Devils, who now play in the Pac-12. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: CUA Goes A Bowling”

The Archivist’s Nook: About That Time Eddie Pryzbyla Nominated JFK

Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act of 1963 while Margaret Mealy (second from right), the head of the National Council of Catholic Women, looks on, June 1963. The bill abolished wage disparity based on sex. Mealy received one of the pens Kennedy used to sign the bill.)
Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act of 1963 while Margaret Mealy (second from right), the head of the National Council of Catholic Women, looks on, June 1963. The bill abolished wage disparity based on sex. Mealy received one of the pens Kennedy used to sign the bill.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 52 years ago this November 22nd. Kennedy, being the first Catholic president in the United States, earned the respect and admiration of many of his American co-religionists. Dorothy Mohler, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work when Kennedy was killed, captured the mood on the CUA campus in her journal entry that day:

The bells in the campanile of the National Shrine were ringing out, not tolling in the usual way yet not ringing with any joyful sound. Students, faculty, visitors, nuns, priests, religious, everyone—began moving toward the Shrine.  Most went into the upper church but some to the crypt and I joined the latter so choked up I could not keep back tears.

Before his tragic death, even before his storied Presidency, Kennedy had his CUA admirers, among them the Chicopee, Massachusetts native, Edward “Eddie” Pryzbyla.  Here on campus, we know Mr. Pryzbyla for the eponymous Pryzbyla Center built in 2003. Pryzbyla, a generous donor with a keen interest in campus beautification, graduated from CUA in 1925 and was an active member of the University’s Alumni Association for decades. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: About That Time Eddie Pryzbyla Nominated JFK”

The Archivist’s Nook: For God and Country – American Catholics in the World War

Student Army Training Corps (SATC) at The Catholic University of America, 1918. University Records, CUA Archives.
Student Army Training Corps (SATC) at The Catholic University of America, 1918. University Records, CUA Archives.

Each year November 11 is a special day in which we honor the nation’s military veterans. A previous blog post examined the American Civil War (1861-1865) relative to the grounds of what would become The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. This post looks at the role of American Catholics in The World War, subsequently known as World War I that raged exactly one hundred years ago. Not coincidentally, the records and papers of many of the Catholic organizations and individuals mentioned hereafter are deposited in the Archives of CUA. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: For God and Country – American Catholics in the World War”

The Archivist’s Nook: From the Pew to Our Living Rooms – Broadcasting the Mass

Rev. Frederick R. McManus performing a Television Age Mass, 1960s, McManus Papers, ACUA.
Rev. Frederick R. McManus performing a Television Age Mass, 1960s, McManus Papers, ACUA.

This week’s post is guest authored by Chelsy Tracz, a CUA graduate student in Theology.

The twentieth century witnessed an explosion in the growth, development, power and influence of various forms of media in our world. While we might be most familiar with the digital revolution—which we, as archivists, are working to take full advantage of—the explosion of radio and television preceded the rise of the internet.

The development of radio and the advent of television didn’t just change the landscape of American popular culture, but had such influence that even the Catholic Church had to reckon with this new form of communication.

The highly influential Msgr. Frederick Richard McManus (1923-2005) was one of the many leaders of the Church that offered guidance about these new forms of media. Having received both his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from The Catholic University of America (CUA), he later returned to CUA, serving as the Dean of Canon Law from 1958 to 1993. McManus is most notable for his leadership in the twentieth century Liturgical Movement and for his role as peritus (or expert) on Sacred Liturgy at the Second Vatican Council. He would prove to be integral in implementing the reforms of Vatican II in the liturgy of the United States, celebrating the first official English-language Mass in 1964. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: From the Pew to Our Living Rooms – Broadcasting the Mass”