The Archivist’s Nook: Conservation in Rare Books, Part II

First folio of MS 126. Image of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, often pictured with the devil in chains.

This past academic year, Special Collections staff continued our long-term project of addressing conservation issues within the Catholic University’s Rare Books collection. As “Part I” of the conservation blog post reported, we began by looking at four of our late medieval European manuscripts. While we continue to prioritize our handwritten manuscripts, this time, the date and geographic range of Quarto’s efforts varied from medieval Europe to late colonial Mexico! 

Our goal in Special Collections is to provide both our external and campus patrons with access to the works they need to research and study. And thus, our number one goal in conserving these manuscripts was to render them stable for both eventual digitization and in-person access, without damaging the text or any original materials in the binding.

As this project progresses, we will continue to keep the campus community informed about the ongoing conservation work and what materials are now safe for full access! And thus, without further ado, we present the five most recently conserved works:

MS 115 – Exposed textblock on the top. Bottom: the rebound textblock.

1. Quadriga Spirituale, ca. 1500, (MS 115)

This work faced real challenges with its binding. The original binding had become quite loose, with tears throughout. The conservators stabilized the binding using wheat starch and Japanese tissue. The binding was preserved and stored in a separate box with a foam insert to mimic the original textblock (the pages inside the covers and binding) and support the binding.

The endbands (the cords affixed on a book spine to provide structural support) of the textblock were stabilized, with the spine stabilized through Japanese tissue and new alum tawed (a calf leather prepared with a liquid solution to create a white appearance) sewing supports sown in. The text was covered with a handmade non-adhesive paper binding to protect the spine and text.

2. Instruccion del Estado del Regno de Mexico, 1794 (MS 121)

MS 121 – The exposed textblock (left). After stabilization, the covered work (right).

This volume lacked any binding, leaving the textblock fully exposed. The spine was loose, with tears in the page caused by abrasive iron gall ink used in the original writing. Iron gall ink was a widely used ink in European works until the nineteenth century, made of iron salts and tannic acids. The conservators worked to stabilize the spine and remove – but conserve for our records – some of the abrasive papers and glue in the spine. They cleaned, stabilized, and mended the tears caused by the ink on the first few pages of the text. A paper binding was created to cover and protect the work.

3. Meditationes Beati Bernardi Abbatis, ca. 1400 (MS 126)

The text’s binding and end cover boards (front and back) were loose, with the boards completely detached from the textblock. This binding was a nineteenth-century addition to the original text.

MS 126 – Left: Detached cover boards. Right: Cover boards reattached to the textblock.

The conservators cleaned the spine and end boards, stabilizing them. They then carefully reattached the endsheets (blank sheets often bound at either end of a textblock to protect the text) and end boards to the textblock. Utilizing microscopic analysis, they reviewed the ink of the text to see if any stabilization was required and noted that none was currently necessary. 

4. The interior Christian or a sure guide for those who aspire to perfection in the spiritual life, 1796 (MS 262)

The leather cover was worn along the spine, but the most grave concern about this work was that the binding and textblock was split down the middle of the spine. The work was literally falling in half, with the two halves stiff and difficult to open.

MS 262 – One the left image, the split in the spine is visible. One the right, the mended spine.

The conservators stabilized the leather front and back cover boards, as well as cleaned the interior of the text. They gently lifted the leather spine and added new sown bindings to stabilize the textblock and make it accessible to readers again. The original spine was removed and safely stored with our records, with a new paper spine created to cover the binding.

5. Theologiae polemicae, 1733 (MS 264)

MS 264 – Top shows the red rot damaged cover, with the loose pieces on the spine. Bottom: the new cover.

This work’s leather cover was heavily damaged through red rot. The spine of the cover had completely disintegrated over the years, leaving the threads of the binding exposed. However, the threads were heavily compromised, offering no support to the text and thus rendering the pages loose. Some damage was noted along the pages that had been in close contact with the leather binding. The binding is original to the text, but was so damaged that it needed to be replaced (but with the threads and cover boards kept). 

The conservators unbound the text and carefully paginated the pages to maintain proper order. The spine was cleaned and tears throughout the text mended with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. The textblock was resewn, with new endsheets added to protect the original pages. A historically similar binding with boards was created to protect the text.

To find out more about these books or the general Catholic University Rare Books collection, please contact us at: lib-rarebooks@cua.edu

Our digitized manuscripts may also be viewed at this link.

The Archivist’s Nook: The Dress at the End of the Rainbow

If you were around during the Golden Age of Hollywood, you would have heard of Mercedes McCambridge. She had an Oscar winning role as Best Supporting Actress in the 1949 movie All the King’s Men. She was nominated for the same award in the 1956 film Giant. If you haven’t seen either of those classics or are more into horror, you might have heard her voice the demon Pazuzu in the 1973 film classic, The Exorcist. Indeed, she was renowned for her voice. Orson Welles, who, incidentally, addressed Catholic University’s first class of drama students in 1939, called her “the world’s greatest living radio actress.”

A Mercedes McCambridge publicity photo from the 1949 film All the King’s Men. (Photo: AP Wirephoto.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McCambridge was also an artist-in-residence here at Catholic University from 1972-1973, lured, no doubt, by the University’s stellar drama program and its illustrious head, Father Gilbert Hartke (1907-1986). McCambridge once commented on Father Hartke’s sartorial tastes, which extended well beyond the Dominican robes of his order to include a silk Nehru jacket, a six foot long aviator scarf, a Russian fur hat and light blue canvas sneakers, among many other articles of clothing.

Most of these articles were gifts given to him by those who knew he loved clothing and costumes. And were it not for his extravagant tastes, we perhaps might not today have an absolutely precious piece of cinematic history: one of the dresses Judy Garland wore on the set of The Wizard of Oz. Articles in The Tower and The Washington Post allude to it, and rumors have swirled for years that Hartke had the dress, but it wasn’t until recently that Matt Ripa, Lecturer and Operations Coordinator at the Drama Department rediscovered it. I asked Mr. Ripa how he found the dress, and he responded that he too, “had heard rumors that Father Hartke was gifted Dorothy’s dress and that it was located somewhere in the building.” But “I could never get confirmation on exactly where it was located.” He explains:

I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail. I assumed it was a tall tale (of which many exist for Father Hartke). Our building is in the process of renovations and upgrades, so I was cleaning out my office to prepare. I noticed on top of the faculty mailboxes a trashbag and asked my co-worker to hand it to me. On the trashbag was a note for our former chair stating that he had found ‘this’ in his office and that he must have moved it when he moved out of the chair’s office… I was curious what was inside and opened the trashbag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoe box was the dress!! I couldn’t believe it. My co-worker and I quickly grabbed some gloves and looked at the dress and took some pictures before putting it back in the box and heading over to the archives. I called one of our faculty members and former chair, who always told me the dress existed and that it was in the building to let her know that I had found it. Needless to say, I have found many interesting things in the Hartke during my time at CUA, but I think this one takes the cake.

McCambridge gave Father Gilbert Hartke one of the dresses Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when she was an artist in residence in the early 1970s. Though rumors of the dress have swirled for decades, the dress was only recently located by Matthew Ripa in the Drama Department. Father Hartke is pictured here with student Carol Pearson holding the dress, ca. 1975-76. There are several photos of Hartke holding the dress in the University’s Special Collections. (Photo: Special Collections, The Catholic University of America)

As archivists, we were obliged to work on gaining additional documentation for this popular culture national treasure. Objects such as this one might be forged and passed off as authentic because of their cultural and monetary value. So how do we know the dress is the real thing? We do not yet know how Mercedes McCambridge got the dress, though we do know she was a Hollywood contemporary of Judy Garland’s and that they were supposedly friends. McCambridge was friends with many luminaries in the film and radio industry. Garland had died by the time the dress went from McCambridge to Father Hartke. Moreover, we have several photos of Father Hartke holding the dress, and the abovementioned articles from The Tower and The Washington Post referencing it. So the circumstantial evidence is strong.

Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz dress in June, 2021. Judy’s name is written by hand on the inside of the dress, as the second image shows. (Photos by Shane MacDonald and Maria Mazzenga)

 

Nonetheless, we reached out to experts in cultural memorabilia at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Museum has several artifacts from the Wizard of Oz set, including a famous pair of Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. Curator with the Division of Cultural and Community Life, Ryan Lintelman, an expert in the Museum’s Oz memorabilia, offered a wealth of information he’s gathered on the history of the film’s Dorothy dresses. There were several of them, though it appears that five, excluding the University’s dress, have been verified as probably authentic. All of the dresses have certain verifiable characteristics: a “secret pocket” on the right side of the pinafore skirt for Dorothy’s handkerchief, “Judy Garland” written by hand in a script specific to a single person who labeled all of the extant dresses in the same hand, for example. Apparently, the thin material of the blouse was prone to tearing when Garland took it off after filming, and a seamstress often repaired it before she donned it for the next shoot. The Hartke dress has all of these characteristics, including blouse tears where the pinafore straps sat on the shoulders.

Smithsonian staff members, from left, Dawn Wallace, Sunae Park Evans, and Ryan Lintelman examine the dress, June 2021. (Photo by Maria Mazzenga)

 

 

Lintelman, along with his colleagues at the Museum, Dawn Wallace, Objects Conservator, and Sunae Park Evans, Senior Costume Conservator, paid us a visit to view the dress. Employees at the Museum are not authorized to authenticate objects like this one, but they suggested that the dress was consistent with the other objects from the film, and that the evidence around the dress was strong.

Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz dress, once the province of myth, is now a real object in the University’s Special Collections. We can now preserve it in proper storage in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. By the way, if any of you readers have your own story connected to this dress, drop us a line!

A scene that needs no explaining… (Photo: Silver Screen/Getty)

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Mary Jo Santo Pietro, Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy (Washington, D.C. The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), 201.

“Father Hartke: Kudos from the President, A Look At the Past,” The Washington Post, May 17, 1975, B1. The article alludes to “the original gingham dress that Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz,” hanging in his closet.

McCambridge talks about her relationships with various Hollywood figures throughout her autobiography, and specifically mentions her residency at Catholic University in the early 1970s in her autobiography, The Quality of Mercy (New York: Times Books, 1981), see pages 107, 189 for mention of her year as artist-in-residence. See also, Richard Coe,  “Backstage And Back In Town,” The Washington Post, September 9, 1972, C9.

 

The Archivist’s Nook: Old Baltimore, a Bonaparte, and the Young University

Aside from belonging to the branch of American Bonapartes, Charles Joseph Bonaparte (June 9, 1851–June 28, 1921) is perhaps best known for serving as Attorney General in the administration of Theodore Roosevelt. A prominent Baltimorean and a devout Catholic, he was also one of the men responsible for seeing that The Catholic University of America survived its teenage years.

1906 photograph of Charles Joseph Bonaparte by Frances Benjamin Johnston.

The story of the American Bonapartes begins two generations earlier with a pair of star-crossed lovers: Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson (1785–1879) and Jérôme Bonaparte (1784–1860), Napoléon’s youngest brother. Legend has it that Betsy escaped from her father’s summer estate in Sykesville, Maryland and rode a mule twenty miles east to Baltimore to attend the ball where she’d heard Jérôme would be. When they danced that night, the two supposedly became entangled… his gold chain in her hair, or her necklace on one of his buttons… accounts vary, but the symbolism stands up. They were married on Christmas Eve in 1803 by none other than John Carroll, the first American archbishop. Significantly, although Napoléon eventually succeeded in breaking them up by imperial decree, preferring that his baby brother make a marriage of convenience to Catharina of Württemberg, the Pope refused to annul Jérôme’s first marriage—a moral victory of perhaps some consolation for the heartbroken Betsy who lived bitterly ever after in Baltimore. Her only son, Jérôme Napoléon “Bo” Bonaparte (1805–1870), would go on to have two sons by a wealthy American woman; Charles was the younger.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Charles Bonaparte shared Teddy Roosevelt’s interest in civil service reform. He served as Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Navy before being appointed Attorney General in 1906. In that capacity Bonaparte successfully prosecuted the American Tobacco Company (a major victory on the trust-busting front) and established, in 1908, the Bureau of Investigation—which, in 1935, would become the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Meanwhile, founded in 1887, Catholic University was facing financial ruin by 1904. Detailed accounts of the financial crisis can be found in C. Joseph Neusse’s Centennial History (1990) as well as in the chapter on Charles Bonaparte in Martin J. Moran’s Luminaries (2018), but for now, suffice to say: “The crisis was caused by the University placing its entire endowment in the control of one man [Thomas E. Waggaman], with no oversight” (Moran, p. 169). (Loyal Nook reader and CatholicU alumnus Paul Rybczyk, 1972 and ‘77, recently brought this Washington Post article mentioning Waggaman to our attention!) In January 1904, an “extraordinary meeting” took place at which “Bonaparte of Baltimore” was present; a Finance Committee was formed and Bonaparte was appointed to it; his motion requesting that the “Committee be entrusted with full control over all property […] whether real, personal or mixed” was adopted unanimously. Still the situation took years to straighten out. (For the play-by-play, see the Board of Trustees Meeting Materials, Box 67, especially Folder “Nov. 1904”—which contains correspondence between Waggaman and Bonaparte, albeit by proxy, that was reproduced as exhibits in the relevant legal proceedings.) In the end, Bonaparte recommended that the University accept a settlement which would allow it to recoup 40% of the funds that Waggaman (who had since died) owed. As Moran explains, because Bonaparte was living in D.C. then—serving in T. R.’s administration—he was “available on short notice for consultation during this critical time”; as a result, he “became the principal decision maker right from the start” (Moran, p. 170).

Cardinal Gibbons and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt with warm greetings for each other in 1918. (CUA Archives)
Cardinal Gibbons and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt with warm greetings for each other in 1918. The two were supposedly introduced at Bonaparte’s home in 1891 (Moran, p. 171).

Although in Catholic University history Charles Bonaparte is best remembered for his role in averting the financial crisis, his involvement with the University neither began nor ended with the Finance Committee. Not long after the University first opened in 1889, it planned to add a School of Philosophy, Letters and Sciences; on April 27, 1892, the cornerstone of the new Hall of Philosophy [i.e., McMahon] was laid during a ceremony at which both Bonaparte and his good friend and fellow Baltimorean Cardinal James Gibbons spoke. (According to Moran, Bonaparte actually introduced Cardinal Gibbons to Teddy Roosevelt at his home in 1891; all three were lifelong friends (Moran, p. 171).) As The Church News reported on May 1, 1892, “The lecture hall of the divinity building [Caldwell Hall] was crowded at 4:30 o’clock Wednesday afternoon by invited guests, when the addresses preceding the laying of the corner-stone were delivered.” In his address, Bonaparte called out the mistaken idea that a seminary or university “primarily denot[ed] a building”—a “fairly logical corollary to the view,” he argued, that “education” meant the injection of “book learnin,’” and that “schools of every grade constituted intellectual hypodermic syringes of varying calibres to perform the operation” (Bonaparte, p. 292). “According to this theory,” he added jokingly, “a young man is loaded with information for his life as a camel with water for its desert journey.” Further on, Bonaparte expressed what he believed should be the mission of any education: “to keep ever present to the student’s mind the immensity of his ignorance” (p. 295).

Letter from Charles Bonaparte to the University Rector dated April 11, 1892, describing his intention to “go into temporary retirement for four or five days […] for the purpose of getting [his] address in shape”—presumably referring to the address he gave when the cornerstone of McMahon Hall was laid on April 27, 1892. (Office of the President/Rector, Box 1, Folder 5.)
Humility was a theme with Bonaparte. In his 1907 Commencement Address—delivered in the Assembly Room of McMahon Hall—Bonaparte advised the graduates, should they ever attain “undeserved eminence through holding public office,” and find themselves showered with compliments as a result, “to disclaim deserving such praise, so as to increase their reputation for modesty” (see CU Bulletin, Vol. 13, 1907, p. 500). Furthermore, if they were ever invited to give speeches, Bonaparte counseled them not to talk about themselves, “and not too long about anything.” On the same occasion, Cardinal Gibbons remarked: “You all may not be Attorney-Generals or Ministers, but that is not essential. […] If you are faithful to your post, you will be honored by God and man, and though your name may not be written on history’s pages it will be found glorious on the pages of the book of life.”

In 1915 Bonaparte was awarded an honorary LL.D. from the University—which celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary that year, having officially opened in the fall of 1889. (Incidentally, Lawrence Francis Flick was also among the men to receive an honorary degree on that occasion.)

This year marks not only the bicentennial of Napoléon’s death on May 5, 1821, but also the centennial of Charles Bonaparte’s death on June 28, 1921, just weeks after his seventieth birthday—and just months after the death of Cardinal Gibbons on March 24, 1921.

Works Cited

Bonaparte, Charles J. “Address of Charles J. Bonaparte, Esq.” Year Book Vol. 1, 1889–1894, pp. 290–300.

Moran, Martin J. Luminaries of the Catholic University of America. Moranco Publishing, 2018.

Nuesse, C. Joseph. The Catholic University of America: A Centennial History. CUA Press, 1990.

The Archivist’s Nook: Rare Book Acquisitions, 2021

Special Collections, including the Rare Books Department, like the rest of the world, is emerging from the shadow of the COVID Pandemic. Fortunately, we were able to acquire new books and related materials during the vicissitudes of 2020, which we reported on in a November blog post, and are pleased to announce further significant purchases during 2021 from reputable dealers to grow our collections.

English Recusant Prayer Book with Book of Hours, 1630. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The first item is a work reflecting the response of English Catholics to persecution in their homeland. It is a English Recusant’s Prayer Book titled ‘Exercitium hebdomadarium, collectore Ioanne Wilsono sacerdote Anglo; in gratiam piorum Catholicorum’ from 1630 bound along with a Book of Hours titled ‘Officium passionis Iesu Christi ex oraculis prophetarum desumptum’ originally published in 1621. This pocket prayer book was compiled by Jesuit priest John Wilson, who managed the English College Press at St. Omer. The two books were edited by Wilson and printed in the same typographic format at Antwerp at the Plantin Press of Balthasar Moretus. Both parts include Flemish Baroque engravings in the style of Antoine Wierix, including the second part with a series of nearly a dozen scenes showing the Passion of the Christ. (1) Both editions are considered scares and this second edition was purchased from Samuel Gedge Books of England.

L’Histoire de Jansenius et de Saint-Siran, ca. 1695. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The second item is a book related to the Jansenist Heresy, primarily active in France, which emphasized original sin, divine grace, and predestination.  It is titled ‘L’Histoire de Jansenius et de Saint-Siran’ and was published in Brussels, ca. 1695, anonymously, due to its scurrilous content regarding an imaginary dialogue between Cornelius Jansen and the Abbe de Saint-Cyran in a supposed conference about 1620 at the Bourgfontaine Monastery with a plot to overthrow the established church. The latter had introduced Jansen’s doctrine into France, in particular among the nuns of Port-Royal. This rare sole edition is 192 pages, bound in contemporary calf, with the joints and spine a little chipped. It also has a stamp on the blank flyleaf of an English boarding school of St. Edmund’s College, Ware, and was purchased by Catholic U. from Inlibris of Vienna (2).

Calendario Dispuesto por Don Mariano Joseph de Zuniga…1814, Special Collection, The Catholic University of America.

The third item is as much artifact as publication and a unique addition to our materials related to Latin America titled ‘Calendario Dispuesto por Don Mariano Joseph de Zuniga y Ontiveros Agrimensor por S. M. (Q. D. G.) Para el Ano del Senor de 1815 Los Seis Meses Primeros.’ It is the only edition of an 1815 colonial Mexican sheet almanac by Mariana Jose de Zuniga y Ontiveros, published in 1814 in Mexico City the last of the pre-Independence Zuniga dynasty of Mexican printers. The almanac records eclipses and other celestial events, lunar phases, meteorological predictions, astrological data, feast days, and key moments in the Catholic calendar. It is printed in seven columns within a typographic border on each side and includes small woodcuts of the Virgin of Guadeloupe and San Felipe de Jesús. Similar to European almanacs, Mexican almanacs were printed in the months preceding the forthcoming year. Zúñiga was a mathematician, land surveyor, and member of the Royal Board of Charity of Mexico. The only other year of this type of sheet or series is the 1805 edition held at the University of Texas at Sah Antonio. (3) The Catholic University almanac was purchased from William Cotter Books of Austin, Texas.

Manuscript Sermon by the Minister of Trinity Church, San Francisco, 1856. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The final item is a significant addition to our growing body of Anti-Catholic materials and is titled a ‘Manuscript Sermon Preached by the Minister of Trinity Church in San Francisco in 1856 on Hebrews XIII:  “We have an Altar whereof they have no right to eat those who serve the Tabernacle.”’ It is a firebrand sermon preached in 1856 in San Francisco at the Trinity Episcopal Church by the Reverend Stephen Chipman Thrall. He was the third rector of Trinity Church, 1856-1862, and the biblical text is the stimulus for his assault on what he considered the blasphemous dogma of the Roman Catholic Church (4).  It is a nineteen page, 8 ½ by 13 ½ inch, ink manuscript on blank versos of forms from the Custom House Collector’s Office, written in a contemporary hand and purchased from David Lessor Books of Connecticut.

These four new acquisitions, covering three continents and three centuries, are a further enhancement to the diverse Special Collections at Catholic University. We hope to post further updates regarding acquisitions as well as conservation work before the end of 2021. Please contact us with any questions.

(1) Samuel Gedge Ltd, Norwich, England, Catalog 30, 2020, p. 23.

(2) Thanks to David Rueger of Antiquariat Inlibris.

(3) William S. Cotter Rare Books at https://www.wscotterrarebooks.com/

(4) California Historical Society Quarterly, Sep., 1955, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1955), pp. 231-237.

(5) Special thanks to STM and BM for their assistance.

The Archivist’s Nook: Commencement Firsts

Last year marked the first time that The Catholic University of America celebrated commencement virtually; this year’s commencement, to take place in-person with social distancing at FedEx Field, will mark the first time the ceremony has ever been held away from campus. This blog post will run through some other notable firsts in the University’s commencement history.

The earliest commencement exercises on record took place in the Assembly Room of McMahon Hall, which was constructed between 1892 and 1895 (shortly after the University first opened in 1889 with the completion of Caldwell Hall). By the early 1920s the commencement ceremony was being held in the gymnasium (today’s Crough Center), a practice that would endure for decades.

Built in 1918, the gymnasium was one of many campus construction projects initiated by Rector Thomas Shahan. The lower image shows the interior decorated for a commencement ceremony, ca. 1950. Both from Photo Collection, Box 35, Folder 7.

In his excellent pictorial history of Catholic University (2010, Arcadia), Robert P. Malesky notes: “Many large-scale special events took place in the gym, from the 50th anniversary celebration in 1939 to rock concerts in the 1960s and an address from Pope John Paul II in 1979” (p. 67). Conspicuously absent from his list of “large-scale special events,” however, are the annual commencement exercises—an omission that would probably dishearten the 1923 Commencement Week Committee, which, on the front page of The Tower, pleaded with students and alumni to COMMENCE COMING TO COMMENCEMENT. The Committee felt that “a Commencement Week combining the dignity of academic exercises with the delight of social and of athletic events serves as a sort of epitome of University life,” and lamented that CatholicU, though “still pretty young,” had yet to sow the seeds of a “mighty tradition” like that of “the ‘Proms’ of American Universities, the ‘Commemoration’ of Oxford, [or] the ‘May Week’ of Cambridge” (see “Commencement Week,” The Tower, April 13, 1923). Hoping to rectify that and to entice more people to attend the end-of-year festivities, the Committee added a Senior Ball to the program.

1933 witnessed a “Historic Commencement” at which the sitting President of the United States, FDR, was a guest of honor. (Granted, CatholicU has an extensive history with our country’s chief executives.) According to the Catholic University Bulletin, “a new attendance record was set by the five thousand who attempted to secure admission to the University Gymnasium, [but] the audience that witnessed the affair was not to be compared with the vast radio audience of ten million people to whom the commencement exercises were brought” (July 1933, Vol. 1, No. 5, p. 1). Upon receiving his honorary Doctor of Laws, FDR offered the following unscripted remarks.

The 1962 commencement ceremony was “the first held outdoors.”

1962 marked the first time that commencement was held outdoors, against the backdrop of the recently-completed Pangborn Hall. In a Tower article hyperbolically titled From Hell to Heaven, one student celebrated the improvement in venue—ridiculing the idea of “columns of robed students receiving their diplomas here beneath the basketball nets.” Sadly for him, though, it would be a few more years before others came to feel as strongly as he did that the gym was appropriate (only) for “basketball, volleyball, crab soccer, effervescent cheerleaders, and 1-2-3-4 calisthenics.” The 1965 commencement exercises (at which then-President LBJ delivered the address!) were the last to be held in the gym. (Incidentally, two days earlier, he had also given the commencement address at Howard University.)

1966 marked the triumphant return to outdoor commencement exercises. This time, the ceremony took place in front of Mullen Library.

Graduates pictured in front of Mullen Library in 1967, the year after commencement was first held in this location. From Photo Collection, Box 61, Folder 4.

Although the University Mall has remained the traditional venue for the annual commencement exercises, in 1973 the ceremony did an about-face.

1973 marked the first time that commencement was held on the East Portico of the National Shrine. From Photo Collection, Box 61, Folder 5.
In 1977, rain drove the commencement celebrants into the Great Upper Church of the National Shrine.

Since then, except in extreme circumstances—such as those of 1977 (not to mention those of the past two years)—commencement has been held on the East Portico of the National Shrine. (In 1977, rain drove the commencement celebrants into the Great Upper Church of the National Shrine. A few days later, then-President of the University Clarence C. Walton, the first lay person to lead the University, wrote to the Assistant Director of the Shrine to thank him for “the thoughtfulness and the help [he] provided when, as escapees from rain clouds, the Shrine became our graduation home.” Walton was also sensitive to all the effort that went into setting up and breaking down the unused chairs.)

The Archivist’s Nook: Morris J. MacGregor – Historian of Racial Justice

Morris J. MacGregor (1931–2018), who died three years ago this month, was a native Washingtonian and an alumnus of The Catholic University of America. Over his lifetime he served both his country and his church; as a dedicated and fearless historian, he documented the tangled record of both the United States Army and the Roman Catholic Church on the tortured subject of race relations. I was acquainted with him first and foremost in my capacity as an archivist who provided him access to primary source materials for his research and writing. But he was also a friend who mentored me in my own historical writings and who gave me very sage advice at a crucial time on how best to face my wife’s terminal cancer prognosis.
Morris MacGregor. The Cardinal Yearbook, 1953. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

MacGregor was born on October 11, 1931 in Washington, D.C. to Morris J. MacGregor, Sr. (1903–1979), a paper salesman, and Lauretta Cleary MacGregor, a homemaker. He grew up in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, and attended the now defunct Catholic boy’s school at Mackin, the old St. Paul’s Academy, in Northwest Washington.  He earned his bachelor’s in 1953 and his master’s in 1955, both in History, from Catholic University, and also studied at Johns Hopkins University, 1955–1959, and the University of Paris on a Fulbright Scholarship, 1960–1961. He was an affiliate of the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., 1959–1960. He then served as an historian of the Historical Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, 1960–1966, then as Acting Chief Historian of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1966–1991.

Integration of Armed Forces 1981 by Morris J. MacGregor. Courtesy of Amazon.com.

One of his books, The Integration of the Armed Services, 1940–1965 (1981), received a commendation from then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberg and is still considered an authoritative account of this sensitive subject. In it, MacGregor addresses how the military moved from reluctant inclusion of a few African Americans to their routine acceptance in a racially integrated establishment. This process was, he argues, part of the larger response to the civil rights movement that challenged racial injustices deeply embedded in American society. MacGregor’s book also explores the practical dimensions of integration, showing how the equal treatment of all personnel served the need for military efficiency. His other military studies include two edited works with Bernard Nalty—the 13-volume Blacks in the Armed Forces (1977) and Blacks in the Military: Essential Documents (1981)—as well as Soldier Statemen of the Constitution (1987), co-authored with Robert K. Wright, and The United States Army in World War II: Reader’s Guide (1992), co-authored with Richard D. Adamczyk.

The Emergence of a Black Catholic Community, the second of three CUA Press books written by Morris J. MacGregor. Courtesy of Amazon.com

A practicing Catholic, MacGregor authored several books on American Catholic History, including The History of the John Carroll Society, 1951–2001 (2001), published by the John Carroll Society in Washington, D.C., and three published by Catholic University Press. The first was A Parish for the Federal City: St. Patrick’s in Washington, 1794–1994 (1994).  St. Patrick’s is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Washington, D.C., witnessing the city’s evolution from a struggling community into a world capital.  As Washington’s mother church, MacGregor argues it transcended the usual responsibilities of an American parish; its diverse congregation has been pivotal in shaping both national policies and the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.  The second was The Emergence of a Black Catholic Community: St. Augustine’s in Washington (1999), which presented in detail the history of race relations in church and state since the founding of the Federal City. MacGregor relates St. Augustine’s from its beginning as a modest chapel and school to its development as one of the city’s most active churches. Its congregation has included many of the intellectual and social elite of African American society as well as poor immigrant newcomers contending with urban life.  The third was Steadfast in the Faith: The Life of Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle (2006), an account of the churchman responsible for the racial integration of D.C. Catholic Schools as well as a driving force in Catholic Charities.

A Catholics in the Civil War themed issue of Potomac Catholic Heritage, Fall 2006. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

MacGregor was a member for many years of the Catholic Historical Society of Washington, D.C., serving as co-editor and contributor, along with friend and fellow Catholic University alum Rev. Paul Liston, of the Society’s quarterly glossy magazine, Potomac Catholic Heritage (previously the Society’s Newsletter), 2005–2015. Issues of the publication are archived in the Special Collections at Catholic University along with many records that were central to MacGregor’s research on the American Catholic Church, especially in relation to African Americans (see our research guide on African American History Resources).

The Archivist’s Nook: Telling Us Who They Are

The manuscript was originally submitted in April 1966 as a Ph.D. dissertation for Catholic University’s Department of Anthropology under the title “Behavior and Values of Streetcorner Negro Men.” Under the title “Tally’s Corner,” it doubled as Liebow’s Final Report for Project No. M-MHSC-59 in the Adolescent Process Section of the Mental Health Study Center at NIMH.

Elliot Liebow (January 4, 1925–September 4, 1994) was an anthropologist best known as the author of Tally’s Corner: A Study of Negro Streetcorner Men (1967, Little, Brown and Co.) and Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women (1993, Free Press).

The two books, written more than twenty-five years apart, rather neatly bookend Liebow’s career at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over the course of which he rose to become Chief of the Center for the Study of Work and Mental Health. While Tally’s Corner—originally submitted as a Ph.D. dissertation to Catholic University’s Department of Anthropology—had grown out of research that Liebow conducted through the Health and Welfare Council of the National Capital Area on a grant from NIMH, Tell Them Who I Am punctuated the end of his career with the federal government. Liebow wound up writing Tell Them Who I Am after abruptly retiring on disability in 1984, having been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer and given six or eight months to live. (See Biographical Note and the preface to Tell Them Who I Am for further details.) Happily, he lived for another decade after his diagnosis.

The symmetry of Liebow’s two books is underlined by the fact that both are examples of participant observation—a traditional anthropological approach which until Tally’s Corner had rarely been applied in a Western, urban setting. “In participant observation,” Liebow explains in the preface to Tell Them Who I Am, “the researcher tries to participate as fully as possible in the life of the people being studied” (p. vii). He goes on to poke fun at himself “Doing Research (that is, hanging around)” (p. x). Despite his modesty, Liebow’s ability to get close to his subjects is the stuff of legend. In his foreword to the 2003 edition of Tally’s Corner, Charles Lemert marvels at Liebow’s informality with Sea Cat: “Liebow “flopped” on the bed. When the condoms fell out, he felt no shame either in putting them away for Sea Cat or in asking about his use of them” (p. xi). Similarly, in her review of Tell Them Who I Am—which she calls “a work full of pathos and insight”—Katherine S. Newman of Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology writes: “Virtually every social scientist in the United States was raised on a diet that included Tally’s Corner. Elliot Liebow is the exemplar of the engaged ethnographer” (see Box 49, Folder 33).

Beloved classic though it is, Tally’s Corner (1967) has regularly been critiqued for the inclusion of the word “Negro” in its subtitle. A notable example of this critique (among others) in the Liebow papers comes from letters written in 1974 by Black students, who, not even ten years after the book’s publication, largely find it dated and distasteful (see Box 11, Folder 5).

The Liebow papers provide strong evidence of his research methods in participant observer studies. That said, the overwhelming majority of his copious field notes and tape recordings must be kept closed for the time being out of consideration for the privacy of his informants. Per the terms of the gift agreement signed by Harriet Liebow (Liebow’s widow), “field notes and related material, marked ‘confidential,’ […] shall be subject to a sixty (60) year restriction from the date of creation of said notes.” The finding aid indicates which materials are open for research and which are closed (and until when).

The first time I heard Liebow’s voice, I was surprised by how deep it was. I was listening to some tape recorded life history interviews with informants for Tell Them Who I Am (see Box 50), and I couldn’t help but be charmed by his parting words to one especially deferential interviewee: “You don’t have to call anybody anything but their first names,” he assured her, “[no] Miss Anybody […] and it’s just plain Elliot.” Tape recordings like that one offer some of the most vivid pictures of Liebow to be found anywhere in the papers; unfortunately, the collection contains very few photographs of him (and what few there are are rather poor quality). Because his role as participant observer seems so unavoidably personal, I found the lack of photographs both frustrating and tantalizing. While it’s true that he gives physical descriptions of himself in both of his books—6’1” tall, 185 pounds at the time of Tally’s Corner (p. 164) and ten pounds lighter, with white hair, by the time of Tell Them Who I Am (p. x)—these cursory accounts fall far short of capturing his charisma. In an obituary that appeared in the November 1994 issue of Anthropology Newsletter, Kim Hopper, the one-time president of the National Coalition for the Homeless, recalls Liebow’s incredible capacity to disarm (see Box 49, Folder 47):

Liebow was a consummate (some would say relentless) ethnographer and teacher. Two cardinal virtues of that dual profession—an ability to listen closely and a gift for storytelling—he held in abundance. Legend (confirmed) has it he once interviewed two men he had interrupted in the process of stealing the alternator from his parked car. (They desisted; “Give the man back his bolts!,” one of them reminded the other as they took their leave.) “It’s amazing what you can learn if you just don’t get excited,” was Liebow’s comment on the episode.

Perhaps the most lingering and impressive aspect of the Liebow papers is the documentation of his so-called retirement, during which, faced with his own imminent death, he steadfastly went on telling us who they are—tossing out stereotypes of the underclasses, just as he had in Tally’s Corner.

On July 11, 1986, Liebow was appointed the first occupant of the Cardinal O’Boyle Chair at Catholic University’s National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS). In January 1990, he was presented with Catholic University’s President’s Medal.

To learn more about the Elliot Liebow Papers, please see the newly published finding aid.

The Archivist’s Nook: Christopher J. Kauffman – American Catholic Historian

Guest blogger Tricia Pyne. Ms. Pyne is director of the Associated Archives at St. Mary’s & University in Baltimore, MD. She earned her doctorate in U.S. history from The Catholic University of America. Dr. Kauffman was on her dissertation committee.

Dr. Christopher J. Kauffman, educator, scholar, mentor, husband, father, colleague, and friend passed into the hands of God on January 30, 2018.

Dr. Kauffman was the youngest of four children born to Dr. Daniel E. Kauffman and Bernice O’Brien, in St. Louis, Missouri. He was raised by his mother and maternal grandfather after the premature death of his father. He attended parochial schools before entering St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he earned his B.A. Graduate studies at St. Louis University followed, where he earned a M.A. and Ph.D.

His first meaningful foray into U.S. Catholic history was through a series of institutional histories he was commissioned to write. The first was a two-volume history of the Alexian Brothers (1976) followed by histories of the Knights of Columbus (1982), the U.S. Province of the Society of St. Sulpice (1989), the founder of the Glenmary Home Missioners (1991), the U.S. Catholic healthcare system (1995), and the Marianists in the United States (1999). The writing of institutional histories was a genre Dr. Kauffman not only mastered, but helped to transform.

Dr. Christopher Kauffman poses near a few of his many Catholic histories. (Image: Special Collections, The Catholic University of America)

While researching and writing these works, he also served as general editor for two highly-regarded series, the six-volume Makers of the Catholic Community (Macmillan), commissioned for the bicentennial of the establishment of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy and published in 1989, and the nine-volume American Catholic Identities: A Documentary History (Orbis Books) published over the period 1999-2003. If his institutional histories had established him as one of the field’s leading historians, the influence of these two series was even more far-reaching. Both encompassed a broad range of topics associated with U.S. Catholic life that represented the evolution of the field’s historiography with volumes dedicated to the issues of gender, race, ethnicity, regionalism, spirituality, Catholic thought and practice, and episcopal leadership. Makers of the Catholic Community signaled the sea change that had been occurring within the field with its shift from traditional ecclesiastical history to the new models of social history. American Catholic Identities reflected his ongoing commitment to recognizing the diverse experiences of the people that comprise the U.S. Catholic community.

In September 1989, Dr. Kauffman began another important phase of his life when he entered academia with his appointment to The Catholic Daughters of the Americas Chair in American Catholic History at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., a position he held until his retirement in 2008. In this role, he instructed undergraduates and graduate students in the classroom and served on the committees of many M.A. theses and Ph.D. dissertations.

His greatest contribution to the profession, however, began when he took over as editor of the U.S. Catholic Historianin 1983, a position he held for the next 30 years. This was not the first journal he had been associated with in his career. While in St. Louis, he had served as associate editor of Continuum, the journal founded by his close friend and mentor, Justus George Lawlor. The experience helped prepare him for this new undertaking. To describe Dr. Kauffman as an editor, or the U.S. Catholic Historian, as a journal, however, does not convey what he achieved through this publication or what it came to represent to the profession. He used the journal, with its distinctive thematic format, to promote new scholarship, provide a forum for diverse and frequently underrepresented voices, encourage dialogue across disciplines, and challenge both contributors and readers to examine issues from new perspectives.

Dr. Kauffman poses with several books he edited as part the Makers of Catholic Community series he edited in this 1990 photo. (Photo by Denise Walker, Catholic University Archives)
Baltimore Archbishop William Borders gifts Pope John Paul II with the series of books edited by Dr. Kauffman and published in 1989, Makers of the Catholic Community. (Image courtesy Archdiocese of Baltimore)

Dr. Kauffman’s contributions to the profession were recognized with his election as president of the American Catholic Historical Association in 2004 and at a conference organized by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism the following year aptly entitled “The Future of American Catholic History.” His gifts to the larger Catholic community in his role as historian will be longer lasting. Through his commitment to exploring what he described as “the interaction between religion and culture and between faith and lived experience so as to provide an integrated perception of the organic character of Catholic life” he helped to broaden and enhance how we understand the U.S. Catholic experience. To honor his memory and continue his legacy, an effort is underway to fund the Christopher J. Kauffman Prize in U.S. Catholic History with the American Catholic Historical Association. The prize is to be awarded to the author of a monograph that provides new and/or challenging insight to the study of U.S. Catholic history. Please contribute today at: https://achahistory.givingfuel.com/make-a-gift-to-the-acha.

 

 

 

The Archivist’s Nook: Catherine Ann Cline – An Historian for All Seasons

Catherine Cline with CUA President, William J. Byron, S.J. ca. 1990. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

March is Women’s History Month, so why not celebrate a pioneering woman who was an historian: Catherine Ann Cline, distinguished scholar of Great Britain in the twentieth century and former chair of the History Department at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  She was especially interested in the rise of the British Labour Party and the roots of the British appeasement of Fascism in the wake of the controversial Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War. Cline was also a gifted teacher of erudition who mentored many students as well as being a lover of the arts. Her archival papers are among those of many notable History department faculty along with those from other disciplines at Catholic University housed in Special Collections.

Cline’s framed clipping of the so called ‘Lost Battalion’ in which her father served in the First World War. This is the name given to the nine companies of the 77th Division, about 550 men, isolated by German forces after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Nearly 200 were rescued but the remainder were killed, captured, or missing. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline was born on July 27, 1927 in West Springfield, Massachusetts, to Daniel E. Cline and Agnes Howard. She earned a B.A. from Smith College in 1948, an M.A. from Columbia University in 1950, and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College, where she worked with Felix Gilbert. She taught at a number of universities between 1953 and 1968: Smith College, St. Mary’s College of Indiana, and Notre Dame College of Staten Island. In 1968, Cline became an associate professor of history at Catholic University and rose to full Professor in 1974. She served as Chair of the History Department from 1973 to 1976 and again from 1979 to 1982. Noted for her integrity, and in recognition of her long service to Catholic U she was awarded the Papal Benemerenti Medal on April 10, 1995, Catholic U’s Founders Day. She continued teaching at CUA until her death in 2006 after a long illness.

Book cover of Catherine Cline’s 1963 book exploring the rise of the British Labour Party. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline was an expert in modern British history, especially the early twentieth century and the rise of the Labour Party. She was the author of the book Recruits to Labour: The British Labour Party, 1914-1931 (1963). It was an innovative prosopography of nearly seventy political converts in the era of the First World War who reshaped Labour’s domestic and foreign policy in the postwar environment.  Cline’s second book, E. D. Morel, 1873–1924, The Strategies of Protest (1981), is an authoritative political biography of an outspoken reformer who demanded democratic control over British diplomacy. He was jailed during the war by the British government for his anti-war activism.[1] Morel is also notable for defeating Winston Churchill in the 1922 Parliamentary election, taking Churchill’s Scottish seat in Dundee and effectively knocking Churchill out of the Liberal Party. Churchill only found has way back into Parliament later as a Conservative.

Cover of Catherine Cline’s 1981 biography of Labour reformer E. D. Morel. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline’s third area of research, published in articles in The Journal of Modern History and Albion and presented in papers at scholarly conferences, examined British public opinion and the Treaty of Versailles. Seeking the roots of British appeasement, she uncovered ways that British elites promoted a negative view of the peace treaty and their impact on interwar diplomacy. She also wrote numerous articles and book reviews for the American Historical Review, Catholic Historical Review, and Church History. Additionally, she was a research fellow of the American Philosophical Society and a member of the Faculty Seminar on African History at Columbia University as well as a member of the American Historical Association, the American Catholic Historical Association, and the Conference Group on British Studies. She served on several prize committees of these organizations.[2]

Her former colleague and distinguished professor of British history in his own right, Dr. Lawrence Poos, described Cline as:

“Cathy Cline was instrumental in my being hired as a faculty member in the History Department, and what I remember of my first impression of her is what remained throughout her career here and after her retirement: personally and professionally she was gracious, in an old school sense (and I mean that as a most sincere compliment).  Even when she was strongly opposed to something, she would find the right occasion to make her opinions clear in the proper setting.  She was also famous for the New Year’s breakfast (really, brunch) she hosted in her apartment each year, in homage (so we always understood) to the famous salon-style breakfasts and conversations of Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone.”[3]

In conclusion, while I only met her briefly a few times on campus, I was most impressed by her first published work, before she emerged as a scholar of modern Britain, which was an excellent 1952 article [4] on the coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania, a subject near and dear to my heart. It always struck me that the gain to British labour history was a loss to American labor history!

[1] Carole Fink, February 1, 2006. American Historical Association web site- https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/february-2006/in-memoriam-catherine-ann-cline

[2] Ibid.

[3] Poos to Shepherd, email, March 3, 2020.

[4] Cline, Catherine Ann. ‘Priest in the Coal Fields, The Story of Father Curran,’ Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Vol. 63, No. 2 (June 1952), pp. 67-84.

The Archivist’s Nook: The Manternach-Pfeifer Papers – Life, Love, and Joy Their Way

Cover of the 1991 Teacher’s Edition of This Is Our Faith. Manternach-Pfeifer Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University.

Guest author Tricia Campbell Bailey is a graduate of the Catholic U. Library and Information Science (LIS) Department.

Before I returned to school to become an archivist, I spent 20 years as a journalist and corporate communications specialist. Much of that time was spent on science and technology writing; I quickly learned how to break down technical information clearly and how to find the “hook” that lurks in every story beneath the technical details and scientific jargon. In fact, the most important lesson I learned as a writer was: There’s no such thing as a boring assignment.

Happily, when I took on my first archival project as a CUA graduate student, I learned that that lesson applied to archival work, as well. And last month, when I returned to CUA as a part-time archives assistant, I discovered it all over again. Every boxful of papers and every crumpled photograph tells a story. On the surface, this story is about two religious educators and business owners — but it’s also about faith, love, and living life on one’s own terms.

The collection, newly acquired by the Catholic University Archives, is the personal papers of Janaan Manternach and Carl Pfeifer, who revolutionized Catholic education for children beginning in the 1960s. Together they wrote multiple religious education textbooks and curricula, along with many columns, books, and articles about the best way to teach children about the Catholic faith.

Revamping the Catechism

Until the 1960s, religious instruction in the U.S. was based on the Baltimore Catechism, which used a rote question-and-answer format that many children found difficult to engage with. However, many Catholics today learn about their faith very differently — largely due to Manternach and Pfeifer’s work.

In the late 1950s, the National Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) Center became aware of Sister Mary Janaan (born Shirley Marie Manternach), a young Franciscan sister from Dubuque, Iowa who incorporated poetry, art, and music into her religion class at an inner-city Chicago school. In 1960, she was reassigned to Washington, D.C. to study Religious Education at The Catholic University of America — and to work with CCD Director Rev. Joseph Collins on a textbook series to replace the Baltimore Catechism.

Pfeifer and Manternach (third and fourth from right) at a conference in Rome, ca. late 1960s or early 1970s (pre-1976). Manternach-Pfeifer Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University.

Three years later, in a graduate class at CUA, Sister Mary Janaan met Father Carl Pfeifer, a young Jesuit priest and teacher from St. Louis. He shared her interest in making religious education more accessible to children, and she eventually proposed to the CCD Center that he be assigned to work with her on the textbook project. This sparked a professional and personal partnership that was to last for more than 40 years.

“I Could Not Live Without Him”

From 1963 to 1975, Sr. Manternach and Fr. Pfeifer were co-assistant directors of the CCD Center, where they not only authored the Life, Love, Joy textbook series but also represented the Center to diocesan directors nationwide; consulted for various Church religious education groups; and were instrumental in the creation of the National Conference of Diocesan Directors (NCDD). In 1975, they left to form their own freelance writing business, also called Life, Love, Joy.

Together, they traveled to dioceses across the country introducing the series and training catechists. For example, notes from Manternach’s notebook point to her love of using art and music in her teaching, and to finding ways to engage children through stories: “The Bible’s not enough! Generate spinoffs – poetry – music – story – art/culture rises up around it – multiple tellings.”

But by this time, they were discovering something else — their successful professional partnership was becoming something more. In 1976, both Sr. Manternach and Fr. Pfeifer requested and received permission to be released from their vows, and they were married on November 20, 1976. In her personal writings from the early 1980s, Manternach notes candidly, “I decided to marry him because gradually I became aware that I could not live without him.”

Leaving religious life caused some temporary backlash against the two in the Church, but their success as catechists and devotion to their work earned them forgiveness, and they continued to be influential in the religious education movement even as laypeople.

Pfeifer and Manternach in front of their home in Arlington, VA., December 1985. Manternach-Pfeifer Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University.

A Life of Love and Joy

 In addition to the Life, Love, Joy series, which was revised many times (it was later known as the Silver Burdett Religion Program, Growing in Faith, and finally This is Our Faith), the couple wrote syndicated columns for many Catholic publications and traveled extensively to present workshops and lectures. In 1985, both Pfeifer and Manternach received their Doctor of Ministry degrees from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.

Far beyond their passion for their work, however, the collection’s extensive amount of correspondence reveals the human side of the couple. An entire box of the collection is reserved for Manternach and Pfeifer’s holiday newsletters, which they circulated to their wide-ranging circle of friends and family at Christmas and Easter. Despite the initial controversy around their transition from religious life, two bulging folders contain well-wishes for their 1976 wedding. Both stayed in regular touch with their families in the Midwest. And although they were unable to have children of their own, they doted on their four godchildren. Extensive correspondence from the early 2000s shows that Manternach and her goddaughter Angela communicated almost daily, often through multi-page handwritten letters and photo collages.

In the early 2000s, Pfeifer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and he and Manternach returned to Manternach’s home state of Iowa to care for him and for her elderly mother. Pfeifer died of complications from Alzheimer’s in 2007; Manternach, now in her 90s, lives on her own in Dubuque, about 25 miles from her hometown of Cascade. She remains active as an author; most recently she published I’d Do it All Over Again and I’d Do it Better: A Caregiver’s Journey through Alzheimer’s (ACTA Publications, 2020).

The Manternach/Pfeifer collection has not yet been fully processed, but work is underway and a full online finding aid will be available. This collection is a rare glimpse into two people who spent decades passionate and joyful about their faith — and about one another. Their lives and work can best be summed by a quote from Manternach found scrawled in a notebook with other thoughts on catechesis: “Hope is part of the structure of most of our existence.”

Works Cited

Manternach, D. (n.d.). Janaan Manternach and Carl J. Pfeifer. Biola University. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.biola.edu/talbot/ce20/database/janaan-manternach-carl-pfeifer

Carl Pfeifer Obituary, 1929-2007. (2007, July 15). The Washington Post. https://www.legacy.com/amp/obituaries/washingtonpost/90699372