The Archivist’s Nook: A Tale of Two Artists – A Traditional Attribution or a Forgotten Master?

The following is a selection from Catholic University student Annaliese Haman’s class paper on a piece of Renaissance-era Italian art held by Special Collections at the University. Ms. Haman’s piece was submitted as an assignment for Professor Tiffany Hunt’s course ART 272: The Cosmopolitan Renaissance and edited by Special Collection’s Dr. Maria Mazzenga. The students used art from the University collections for their papers.

When choosing a piece to research from the Catholic University Archives’ collection, I did not know where to begin. Certain pieces, such as the antique furniture, held a certain mystery and intrigue about them; they were also unique. The few triptychs available were of immediate interest as I have a fondness for altarpieces. However, I wanted to research something simple and fairly straightforward, so I looked at the few paintings available in the collection.

Figure 1: The Madonna with Child, Saints, and Angels, circa 1500-1550.

The Madonna with Child, Saints, and Angels oil painting on wood (Fig. 1) caught my attention, firstly because of its proximity to my dormitory. Having easy access to this piece immediately was a bonus. Yet as I examined the piece further, it continued to grow in its benefits. The piece needs restoration, but even with its cracks and damage, it was in very good condition and seemed worth pursuing for my projects.

Going to the Catholic University Archives for my designated research time sparked many interesting thoughts. I was glad that the archives did indeed have files on my piece. Though much of my file consisted of inventory records, there was a great deal of substance on the provenance of this painting. It originally belonged to Jeane Dixon. Dixon was a rather interesting character. She was born in 1904, and she was a devout Roman Catholic and a prophet. This was self-described but was attested to by many people around her. Her supposed psychic abilities garnered her fame and fortune. Dixon resided in Washington D.C. with her husband, who was involved in real estate and automobiles. She had many friends in high places and most importantly with respect to this painting, she was a friend of Monsignor James Magner, an administrator at Catholic University and a collector of art and historical objects. Magner donated much of his collection to the University’s Special Collections.

Ruth Montgomery’s book, A Gift of Prophecy: The Phenomenal Jeane Dixon A Gift of Prophecy: The Phenomenal Jeane Dixon notes that Dixon first saw Madonna with Child, Saints, and Angels at the 1939-40 World’s Fair. The painting later showed up in Washington, D.C. where Dixon saw it again.[1] This time, she bought the piece. She held on to it for many years, though it was kept at a friend’s house. When she began looking to donate it, Msgr. Magner leaped at the opportunity to acquire it. She agreed to donate the painting to Catholic University in her husband’s name and honor. [2] This new object of the university was a great point of pride: “Catholic University was so proud of its acquisition that it later exhibited the painting on a television program and reproduced its likeness on the school’s official Christmas cards.”[3]

Both Montgomery’s book and correspondence in the archives note the acquisition of the painting. The book notes the supposed artist of the piece for the first time: “Innocenzo da Imola’s sixteenth-century painting of the Madonna and Child in a nativity scene…” This tells us that when Dixon purchased the painting, the artist’s identity was known.[4]

Many inventory documents support Innocenzo as the artist. He was Italian, living between 1490 and 1545, and he worked primarily in Bologna, though he did spend some time in Florence.[5] His work shows this Florentine influence through his formation of composition. According to Oxford Art Online, many of Innocenzo’s works were focused on the Madonna and Child with varied saints. This painting seems to fit right in with his known repertoire. It is unknown where the initial connection to him was made; there is no signature that can be seen in the present day; perhaps it was visible in 1939-40, but no known documentation exists confirming this. How Innocenzo became connected to this piece is missing from the provenance.

One document in the archives contains an appraisal. Here we get a name for the piece, The Madonna with Child, Saints and Angels. It is rather generic for a work of art, but many Renaissance pieces followed this type of structure of a Madonna and Child in a nativity scene surrounded by either the shepherds or various saints depending on the purpose of the painting. This appraisal helps provide many details about the piece, and gives weight to Imola’s name. “If it is, indeed, a work of Imola, it is an important find.”[6] This appraisal also notes the date of the gift, the Summer of 1956.

A 2016 letter from Christopher Daly to Archives staff member, Katherine Santa Ana, and Art Department professor, Dr. Nora Heimann, provides a great deal of previously unknown information on the painting. He references the piece as, Nativity with Saint Genesius, Saint Blaise, a Young Martyr, and the Archangel Raphael with Tobias. The three previously unidentified saints and angels are named. Their attributes are easily visible, so it is not too difficult to figure out who they are. Having a firm statement of their identities is a great addition to our knowledge of the piece.

What is most interesting about Daly’s letter is his bold claim that Innocenzo is not the artist. “As mentioned, I believe the painting is a characteristic work by Ranieri di Leonardo, formerly known as ‘The Master of the Crocefisso dei Bianchi.’”[7] Daly proceeds to give some information about Ranieri, namely, that he was Pisan and active in Lucca between 1502 and 1521.[8] In his letter, Daly explains how he connected this Nativity with Ranieri. “Although CUA’s painting is heavily repainted, the composition and stiffly-posed figure types as well as some morphological details, such as the round, fleshy faces and the bony fingers, are legible…” which he connected to Ranieri’s work.[9]

Daly wrote and published a chapter in the book Filippino Lippi: Beauty, Invention and Intelligence. Daly’s chapter is titled Filippino Lippi: Reconsidering Lucchese Painting after Filippino. What is most beneficial about this chapter is that many other paintings by Ranieri are given as examples in this chapter on Lucchese school painting. These paintings help to solidify this Virgin and Child as an Italian painting. The two attributed artists do strongly support its Italian origins, but having substantial examples of other Italian paintings from the same school helps to provide a greater understanding of how this painting fits into the style and techniques of its time. Daly gives a summary description of the painting before explaining how he connected this piece to Ranieri when it had been attributed to Innocenzo da Imola.

Not only are Ranieri’s characteristic bloated and restrained figure types clearly visible through the altarpiece’s heavily repainted surface, its unusual iconography – with a group of saints flanking a Nativity group rather than the customary Virgin and Child – allows it to be identified with the ‘Nascita di nostro Signore con l’arcangelo Raffaele e altri Santi,’ commissioned from Ranieri by the operai of San Tommaso in Pelleria, Lucca, on 26 March 1510.[10]

In his research on this piece, Daly was able to find the contract that connected it to Ranieri. The reason this piece has connections to the Church is that the Church had a chapel dedicated to St. Genesius. The Church had also previously contracted Ranieri to create another altarpiece. Contracts hold keys to discovering many of the intricacies of Renaissance paintings. They can explain the globalization of the works, along with the localization. Yet within that localization, there can still be found aspects of the globalization of the cultures of the time.

This painting was commissioned by an Italian church to an Italian artist. And to further limit the scope of this painting, it was a church local to the artist. And yet this supposed limitation does not mean the painting does not exhibit the globalization of the world. Looking at the fabrics in the piece, little details in their patterns come out. Saint Raphael (Fig. 2) has a subtle pattern of little golden dots on his clothes. His collar also sports this gilding. Yet these are not the grand patterns and designs of the Netherlandish painters. In fact, these clothes are in a contemporary style.

Figure 2: detail, The Madonna with Child, Saints, and Angels, circa 1500-1550

The setting of this nativity is not the traditional setting of Bethlehem. As the Renaissance progressed, artists began using more and more motifs and settings that placed scenes and saints in the contemporary world. Though there are only two slim windows of viewing, a lovely green countryside can be seen in the background, behind Saint Genesius and Saint Raphael respectively. Part of this countryside can be seen in Figure 2. There is also the climbing vine along the front entrance of the stable. It could possibly be native or live in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas, but it is much more likely that this was a vine native to Italy, and possibly the Lucca region specifically. That stable also has much more of an Italian style to it than something built in ancient Judea. The round arch and the smooth walls without any indication of stonework or woodwork appear to be stucco.

At this point is it worth noting that Daly commented that this painting had been repainted and reworked.[11] These details could have been added later, to achieve this same effect of bringing the Holy Family and the Nativity to Italy. This possibility cannot be fully answered without an x-ray look at the painting and a more detailed study by experts. And yet this painting exhibits a beautiful and traditional scene that shows how the Renaissance and its artists recognized the importance of seeing day-to-day settings in the context of important events. And how fitting that this piece would be found at a World’s Fair, a modern example of the great global exchange that the Renaissance began in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

 

Notes:
[1] Ruth Montgomery, A Gift of Prophecy: The Phenomenal Jeane Dixon (New York: Bantam Books, 1965), 137. [2] Montgomery, Gift of Prophecy, 138. [3] Montgomery, Gift of Prophecy, 139. [4] Montgomery, Gift of Prophecy, 137. [5] Any information about Innocenzo da Imola comes from The Getty website and Oxford Art Online. [6] Unknown author, inventory document from approximately 1981. [7] Christopher Daly, “Letter to Ms. Katherine C. Santa Ana and Dr. Nora Heimann,” (letter, collection of The Catholic University of America Archives, 2016). [8] Daly, “Letter to Santa Ana and Heimann,” 2016. [9] Daly, “Letter to Santa Ana and Heimann,” 2016. [10] Christopher Daly, “Filippino Lippi: Reconsidering Lucchese Painting after Filippino,” in Filippino Lippi: Beauty, Invention and Intelligence, ed. Paula Nuttall, Geoffrey Nuttall, and Michael Kwakkelstein, (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 316. [11] Daly, “Letter to Santa Ana and Heimann,” 2016.

 

Bibliography
Daly, Christopher. “Letter to Ms. Katherine C. Santa Ana and Dr. Nora Heimann.” Letter, Collection of The Catholic University of America Archives, 2016.
Daly, Christopher. “Filippino Lippi: Reconsidering Lucchese Painting after Filippino.” In Filippino Lippi: Beauty, Invention and Intelligence, edited by Paula Nuttall, Geoffrey Nuttall, and Michael Kwakkelstein. 297-321. Leiden: Brill, 2020.
Montgomery, Ruth, A Gift of Prophecy: The Phenomenal Jeane Dixon. New York: Bantam Books, 1965.

 

The Archivist’s Nook: Adeptio-Rare Book Acquisitions, 2021-2022

Special Collections, including the Rare Books Department, like the rest of the world, is continuing to emerge from the shadow of the COVID Pandemic. We continue to purchase new books and related materials, which we reported on in our November 2020 and November 2021 blog posts, and are pleased to announce further acquisitions during the 2021-2022 fiscal year from reputable dealers in order to further enhance our collections. This was a banner year, with eight purchased Rare Book acquisitions, four of which are featured below. The others are listed in the footnotes and more information is available upon request.

[Reverendissimo patri domino] Hipolito Aldobrandino Mantuanorum feudorum Processus de partibus vigore compulsorialium generalium factus pro partas perillustris et reverendissimi Claudii et eius consortium de Gonzaga per compulsiv… Die30martii 1583…SpecialCollection,The Catholic University of America.
The first item is a Sixteenth century Italian manuscript, 11 x 8 inches, regarding a dispute between the Gonzaga family of Mantua and the Vatican represented by its auditor, Ippolito Aldobrandini (1536-1605), later Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605). The manuscript is a notarial deed concerning the February 4, 1583 trial held in Mantua in the San Pietro Cathedral.  It is a certified copy written in the Bishop’s Mantua palace on March 16, 1583 and given to Aldobrandini, who was representing the Holy See appearing in this trial as the judge commissioner. The trial, initiated at the request of Claudio Gonzaga, Abbott of the Benedictine Church of Santa Maria di Felonica in Mantua, addressed the validity of feudal rights claims by Felonica concerning properties used by the church. The manuscript has 90 leaves, or 180 written pages, with contemporary inscriptions on front cover and many pages with a notary stamp. This was purchased in June 2021 from Portuguese dealer Sandra Antunes, who in turn obtained it from Sotheby’s of Italy, in 2005.[i] Incidentally, it is often claimed that the spread of Coffee’s popularity is due to Pope Clement VIII’s influence. Supposedly responding to criticism of the beverage as ‘Satan’s drink,’ he tasted it, declaring it would be a pity to permit infidels to have exclusive use of it, so he blessed the bean, arguing it was better for people than alcohol.

Fifteen (15) items in one volume, 1682-1709. Bound in contemporary sheep with gilt title on spine (“Paneg[yrique]. Jans[eniste]. [et] Div[erse]. Autre Ecrits”. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.
The second purchase is a remarkable Sammelband, 7.6 x 6 inches, of fifteen Jansenist tracts, 1682 to 1709, in contemporary binding titled “Paneg[yrique]. Jans[eniste]. [et] Div[erse]. Autre Ecrits”.  Several of the items are not recorded in any American institutional library. The rarity of these tracts may be due to their heterodox nature as at least seven were added to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Books prohibited to Catholics) soon after publication. Many were written anonymously by Gilles de Witte (1648-1721) who followed Jansenist ideas of reading the Bible in the vernacular. He had already attracted the attention of the authorities by publishing a Dutch translation of the New Testament in 1696. He also wrote approvingly of Cornelius Jansenius with a biography of the Bishop of Ypres and an overview of the Jansenist conflict, affirming that many Jesuits has similar views and had not been condemned.[2] This was obtained in September 2021 from David Rueger of InLibris.

The Church Affirms its Stance on Abortion – Printed in Mexico Rodríguez, Mathías (active 17th c.); Innocent XI, Pope (reg. 1676-1689), 1684.

The third accession was a book printed in Mexico, then a province of Spain, by Por Dioego Fernandez de Leon in 1684, titled: Explicacion de las sesenta, y cinco proposiciones prohibidas por la santidad de N.M.S.P. Innocencio XI. mandadas publicar por el Excellentissimo Señor Don Diego Sarmiento de Valladares, obispo inquisidor general: y publicadas por el Santo Tribunal de la Inquisicion de esta Nueva España en siete de abril de mil seiscientos, y ochenta. Author el padre fr. Mathias Rodriguez, predicador, y confessor, de la Santa Provincia de San Diego de religiosos descalços de N.P.S. Francisco de esta Nueva España ; dedicada al Capitan Don Francisco de Alarcon, y Espinosa alcalde ordinario, que fue de la ciudad de la Puebla de los Angeles, su regidor, y thesorero general de la Santa Cruzada.  This is a first edition, 7.5 x 6 inches, with an armorial woodcut on the second leaf, bound in contemporary vellum with remnants of the original ties. The text was written by Fransican friar Mathias Rodriguez of San Diego, New Spain, examining a papal bull condemning sixty-five supposed heretical propositions or ‘laxism’ by Jesuits relating to fornication, gluttony, robbery, and usury. This includes the original Latin of the bull, the Spanish text of the heresies, and Rodriquez’s commentary. In order to expand their ministry, many Jesuits adopted a less stringent approach to theology (‘probabilism’), resulting in Pope Innocent XI’s condemnation in 1679 reasserting Conservative ‘rigorism.’[3] Among the condemned propositions in this book are two related to abortion. Obtained in January 2022 from Liber Antiquus.

Salesman’s Sample Book, Saint Etienne, les Succs de Bochard. Ca. 1935.

The fourth acquisition is a salesman’s sample book of sacramental textiles from the French firm of G. Bochard, which operated in St. Etienne from the late nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century. The company focused primarily on embroidered silks, not only for vestments, but also table cloths, banners, and book braids. Examples in this volume include swatches of numerous priestly vestments, including cincture, maniple, stole, chasuble, cape, dalmatic, surplice, and cotta represented in vivid woven silks as well as embroidered and tapestry fabrics, many with stock notes, and other related marginalia in French. This burgundy board scrapbook, ca. 1935, has a string tied with matching silk braid, approximately 10.5 by 8 inches, containing 16 card stock leaves mounted recto and verso with 92 original silk sample swatches. There are also three black and white mounted photo illustrations of finished patterns.[4]  This was purchased in March 2022 from Type Punch Matrix.

In addition, there were four other purchased acquisitions, listed below. These new arrivals are a further enhancement to the diverse Rare Books Department of Special Collections at Catholic University. They are already making an impact via perusal by patrons and instructional purposes for various university classes. If you are a faculty, student, or alumni with interest and expertise in rare books and have acquisition suggests, please contact us. We can not make any promises but will seriously consider any proposals.

[1] Sandra Antunes, R. Dr. Augusto Jose da Cunha 9 Menos-2C,1495-240 Alges, Portugal.

[2] David Rueger, Inlibris LLC, 245 9th Ave, #166, New York, NY 10011.

[3] Paul Dowling, Liber Antiquus, 7306 Brennan Lane, Chevy Chase, MD, 20810.

[4] Type Punch Matrix, 1111 E. West Hwy, Suite 300, Silver Spring, MD, 20910.

[5] Small format Prayer Booklet to the Holy Family, partially titled, ‘Tierna, Y Dulce Memoria…’ printed in Puebla by Manuela de la Ascension Cerezo, 1753, purchased in June 2021 from W. S. Cotter Rare Books, 4615 Cedar Point Drive, Auston, TX, 78723.

[6] Broadside by Adolph Sutro, titled ‘Sutro and the A.P.A.’, printed in San Francisco, 1894, regarding the anti-Catholic American Protective Association, obtained in June 2021 from David Lesser, Fine Antiquarian Books, One Bradley Road, Woodbridge, CT, 06525.

[7] Two catechisms in English and Odjibwe, titled ‘Katolik Anamie…’ 1880, and ‘A Baltimore Short English-Odjibwe Catechism..’ 1896, bought in February 2022 from William Reese Company, 409 Temple Street, New Haven, CT, 06511.

[8] Collection of Sixteen Anti-Catholic Pamphlets from the Rail Splitter Press, ca. 1920-1935, acquired in April 2022 from Walkabout Books, P.O. Box 22, Curtis, WA, 98538.

The Archivist’s Nook: Rare but Numerous – ‘Imitation of Christ’ in Rare Books

Thomas à Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Leiden, 1658

“Why do you need so many copies of the same work in your collection?” Such a question can be easily asked by any patron after finding in the library catalog that Rare Books houses 36 cataloged copies of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. It blows some people’s minds and raises questions: Why so many? Is not one or two copies enough, especially since there are multiple modern editions and translations available in the general stacks?

As the matter of fact, most of the books, pamphlets, and other kinds of resources housed in Rare Books are preserved on our shelves not only because of the text they contain (though this may be the case for some extremely rare or unique editions) but rather because of some other unique or special features of the books as physical objects, such as print and type, binding and tooling, illuminations and miniatures, paper and watermarks, corrections and marginalia (personal notes, images, and doodles left on margins by previous readers), bookplates and inscriptions, association with prominent historical figures, items left between the pages, and many more. Similar to twins, that develop unique features of their look and character as they grow, so the books even if they came out of the same printing press on the exact same day, will differ significantly in their appearance and each will have its own story to tell.

Scholars in various disciplines study rare books as objects that possess historical, evidential, and informational value through their physicality. They can provide insights on the history of book printing and binding, circulation and ownership, reading habits and purposes (both recreational and educational), aesthetic preferences, changes in society, and more. That’s what makes our books special: they are always ready to give a personal witness to the past.

Thomas a Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Cologne, Germany, 1507
Thomas à Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Cologne, Germany, 1507

“The Imitation of Christ” is one of such popular works translated and reproduced abundantly through the centuries. It has always and continues to be deeply respected, loved, read, studied, and praised by many, religious and laypeople, artists and soldiers, and novelists and scholars alike. It has brought comfort to many historical figures, such as St. Theresa of Avila, George Eliot, Thomas Merton, and St. Thomas More, who, according to some, had a copy of The Imitatio with him while waiting for his execution, as well as fictional characters such as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, who used to keep a copy at her bedside and read a few chapters every night. But the main reason, it has been chosen as the hero of this story is its astounding 600 years jubilee which we celebrate today.

Well, not exactly “today,” for we do not know the year in which De Imitatione Christi was composed. Various scholars agree only on the timeframe between 1410 and 1425, which gives us still plenty of time to commemorate the date and salute this great work. Though it first appeared anonymously, De Imitatione Christi is now commonly attributed to a German-Dutch canon regular and member of the modern devotional movement (aka Devotio Moderna) Thomas Hemmerken from the town of Kempen, better known as Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380 – 1471). 

In homage to his inspirational work, we’d like to highlight today three of our special copies of The Imitation of Christ, offering also a glimpse into Rare Books holdings and encouraging everyone interested to come and see the original volumes in person.

A copy with a secret (Cologne, Germany, 1503)

Various museums and libraries in the U.S. and overseas preserve peculiar books that have a hidden compartment in their bindings. Sometimes it can be as wild as a place to hide a pistol. Our volume is not a book of a criminal or a smuggler, but rather of an early 16th-century passionate reader, who just wanted a convenient spot to keep their reading spectacles and to never have to ask one of the eternal questions of mankind: “where did I put my glasses?

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An annotated copy (Cologne, Germany, 1507)

There are always people who like to make notes on the margins of a paper book one studies deeply: agreeing or arguing with the author, developing their own ideas about the topic, or recording insights and expanding the perspective. That is one of the ways to collaborate with the author and create a personal relationship with the book: both, the work and the object (Though we don’t encourage it in any other than one’s own books!). Another of our early 16th-century copies of the Imitatio, which was previously part of the collection of a book lover and our great donor Msgr. Arthur Connolly, holds marginal notes of a scholar who was deeply immersed in the text. It’s still waiting for its researchers who would like to transcribe and study the thoughts and insights of this early reader of the Imitation of Christ.

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The Musica Ecclesiastica (New York, 1891)

As a devotional work, The Imitation of Christ was meant to be not only studied by the educated but read and put into practice by anyone. To assist with that, there were numerous attempts conducted to translate it from Latin into vernacular languages making it accessible to everyone. There are multiple translations of the Imitatio known and available today, but in this unique late 19th-century American edition, the translator, an English theologian, Oxford professor, and a personal friend of Lewis Carroll, H. P. Liddon, endeavored to preserve its original beauty. According to him, the Imitatio was also called “Musica Ecclesiastica” or “The Church Music”, because of the rhythm and melody of the original Latin, which the translator wished to catch and preserve. Maybe it’s not as old as other copies that are shown here, but it is trying to be faithful to the original intent of the author as well as is faithful to the spirit of its own time: in its language, appearance, binding, and other features.

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Each one of these books, as well as any other copy of The Imitation of Christ in our collection, can be accessed by appointment in Rare Books (Mullen 214, lib-rarebooks@cua.edu) by any patron or researcher interested in studying them more closely. 

 

Sources:

  • Becker, Kenneth Michael. From the Treasure-House of Scripture: an Analysis of Scriptural Sources in De Imitatione Christi. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2002.
  • Thomas, à Kempis. The complete Imitation of Christ. Translated and commented by Father John-Julian. Brewster, Mass.: Paraclete Press, c2012.
  • Thomas à Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Leiden, 1658

The Archivist’s Nook: Catholic University’s Sisters of Life Collections

March for Life Program Journal, January 22,1990 edition. March for Life Memorabilia, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

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.

Natural Family Planning Pamphlet, n.d. Natural Family Planning Collection, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

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.

Secular Feminist Publication, Spokeswowan, November 1, 1979. Catholic and Other Periodicals Collection. Special Collections, The Catholic University of Amerca.

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.

Report Newsletter, July/August/September 1990 Edition. Center for the Rights of the Termininally Ill Collection. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

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.

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.

 

SAGE Video Collection: Trial through July 8, 2021

The University Libraries offers a trial of a rich and diverse collection of videos across the social, behavioral, and health sciences.  The SAGE Video Collection is designed to support instruction, learning, and research in colleges and universities.  The subject areas represented in this trial include business & management; counseling & psychotherapy; criminology & criminal justice; education; geography, earth & environmental science; health & social care; leadership; media & communication; nursing; politics & international relations; psychology, social work, and sociology. The videos range from documentaries to in-practice classes, interviews, tutorials, and raw observational footage.

Enjoy exploring and tell us what you think of this resource.  To get started, click here. To let us know what you liked or didn’t like, click here.

The Archivist’s Nook: Attainment-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.

OLL Blog – Reflections on my first semester as OLL Copy-Cataloger – Erin Mir-Aliyev

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

Erin Mir-Aliyev  

Master of Science in Library and Information Science – The Catholic University of America

Flora de Oliveira Lima Fellowship for Graduate Students in Library and Information Science – The Oliveira Lima Library

OLL books waiting for their catalog record to be found in OCLC.

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 Connexion

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

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. 

MARC

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.

Detail of a book with the OLL stamp.
Example of a book inscribed by Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes to OLL’s former Curator Manoel Cardozo in 1963.

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.

Database Trial thru 10/25: Access World News

From 9/16/2019 – 10/25/19, the University Libraries has arranged trial access to Access World NewsAccess 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.

The University Libraries may consider this subscription in the future and we welcome your feedback.  Click here and tell us what you think about this database.  Thank you!