Special Collections at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., is happy to announce the receipt in September of the donation of eight small collections of Pro-Life archival materials from The Sisters of Life of New York City. While the Sisters decided to donate the bulk of their archives, centered on the Joseph Stanton Papers, to Harvard’s Schlesinger Women’s History Library, it is nevertheless gratifying for Catholic University to host at least a portion of this valuable archive dedicated to an issue of vital importance to the American Catholic Church.
The Sisters of Life are a uniquely American, Roman Catholic religious institute, following the Augustinian rule. It is both a contemplative and active religious community, dedicated to the promotion of pro-life causes. Their abbreviation S.V. stands for Sorores Vitae, which is the Latin version of their name. They were founded under the auspices of John O’Connor (1920-2000), the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York in 1991, when eight women gathered in New York to begin the new community. Since then, they have grown to over a hundred Sisters from across the globe, in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, and the Philippines. They have also expanded missions from their birthplace in New York beyond to Denver, Stamford, Philadelphia, Washington, and Toronto.
The new collections at Catholic University total fifty-one boxes, over sixty linear feet, covering the 1970s to 2000. They include the Abortion Parental Consent Legal Research Case Files from the University of St. Thomas Law School, the Center for the Rights of the Terminally Ill Collection, The Long Island Grass Roots Pro-Life Collection, March for Life Memorabilia, National Right to Life News Complete Collection, Natural Family Planning Archival Collection, Pro-Life Movement Newsletters and Periodicals, and various rare Catholic and other periodicals.
Each of these collections will be processed, primarily by student workers and practicum volunteers, to create online finding aids (inventories), joining those presently on the Special Collections website.(1) We also plan to craft a Pro-life research guide to the related materials. For more information on these and other collections, including another order of homegrown sisters, please contact us at https://libraries.catholic.edu/special-collections/archives/about/contact-us.html
(1) Special thanks to Brandi Marulli, both for visiting the Sisters of Life in person in 2020 to assess their records, and for her help with this blog post.
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:
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)
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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com
Our digitized manuscripts may also be viewed at this link.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This Spring semester has been challenging in many ways that we could not have anticipated when 2020 started. The changes have been immense. Nevertheless, as a community we grew stronger together, adapting, facing and overcoming new obstacles in order to provide our students with the best of us. As we reach the end of the term and reflect on what we have done, I invited our graduate research assistant at The Oliveira Lima Library, Erin Mir-Aliyev, to share her thoughts on her experience .
Erin is a graduate student in the Library and Information Science Department at The Catholic University of America and the first recipient of the Flora de Oliveira Lima Fellowship for Graduate Students in Library and Information Science. The fellowship honors Manoel de Oliveira Lima’s wife, a bibliophile in her own right who took charge of the library after his passing and left an unequivocal imprint on it.
Reflections on my first semester as OLL Copy-Cataloger
Flora de Oliveira Lima Fellowship for Graduate Students in Library and Information Science – The Oliveira Lima Library
Working as a graduate research assistant for the Oliveira Lima Library this spring has been a rewarding experience. Not only have I started to apply first hand in my work what I have been learning in my classes; I have gotten to work in a special collection focusing largely on resources containing information about history and culture, something that allows me to incorporate my social sciences interests and undergraduate degree in anthropology into my library career.
There were many different tools and software programs I’d heard about in my Fall classes, but not having worked in a library since high school, I was not in a position in which I got the chance to use them. As a visual and tactile learner, I was concerned that I was not truly grasping what was being taught. Since beginning to assist the Oliveira Lima Library with processing its collection late last Fall, I have noticed there are three areas in particular where I have learned a lot already and begun to grow more confident: accessing and using OCLC Connexion and Alma, and understanding MARC21.
OCLC is a global library cooperative which provides a tool, OCLC Connexion, through which libraries can create and share their bibliographic records with other libraries. It allows copy-catalogers to find already-existing bibliographic records for their collection’s materials so that librarians don’t have to repeat work that has already been done. Before shadowing a cataloger, I had not realized how long creating one bibliographic record from scratch can take – often over an hour per record. OCLC Connexion has made it possible for me to discover and import into Alma bibliographic records for about 500 books since January, some of which are not very common. As a result, we have been much more efficient than we otherwise would have been at incorporating materials into the library. Going through this process has also allowed me to better understand which elements of a record are the most important for identifying it.
Alma is a cloud-based platform that allows libraries to manage their catalog by importing and editing bibliographic records found in OCLC. So far, I have completed this process for hundreds of books, as well as creating holding and item records for them. My understanding of the differences between a work, expression, manifestation, and item (as expressed by FRBR) has increased greatly as a result of going through this process. These differences are reflected in the differences between bibliographic, holding, and item records for a specific book.
MARC21 is a set of international standards for digital formatting of intellectual and physical traits of bibliographic materials, in my case, books. It struck me as very complicated and difficult to understand while in class, and I have been slowly memorizing the various field codes and formats for descriptions. Copy-cataloging for OLL is a more detail-oriented process than for a lot of collections due to the rare and unique nature of many of its materials, as individual books often contain inscriptions, signatures, or other markings and materials left by people significant to the history of the collection. The MARC fields most significant for cataloging of OLL resources are some fields also commonly used by general collections such as 100 (Main Entry – Personal Name), 245 (Title Statement), and 260 (Publication Information). However, culturally, historically, or biographically important information also needs to be included in the record; other fields like 561 (Ownership and Custodial History), 562 (Copy and Version Identification), and 590 (Local Note) focus on books’ rare and unique traits. This is where I am able to record details about who or what institution previously owned a book, or autographs and bound-in items like letters.
As I continue to work into the next semesters, I look forward to being able to learn even more, such as copy-cataloging for books written in other languages, how to classify and manage archival materials, and how to handle, categorize, and catalog artworks.
From 9/16/2019 – 10/25/19, the University Libraries has arranged trial access to Access World News. Access World News consolidates current and archived information from newspaper titles, as well as newswires, web editions, blogs, videos, broadcast transcripts, business journals, periodicals, government documents and other publications. The database covers more than four decades of information. With easy-to-use, customizable search features, Access World News provides full-text information and perspectives from 4,000 domestic and over 6,000 international news sources, each with its own distinctive focus offering diverse viewpoints on local, regional and world issues. Date coverage varies with individual newspaper. Access Business is a shortcut to the wealth of business information in the database.
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