Catholicism and the U.S. Presidency: Context and Resources

While Catholics have been an integral part of American history for hundreds of years, President-elect Joseph R. Biden will be only the second U.S. President who is Catholic. At University Libraries, you can find a wealth of research and records on the intersection of Catholicism and the United States Presidency.

Anti-Catholic Pamphlet from 1928
Anti-Catholic literature attacked Democratic candidate Al Smith in 1928.

The first major presidential candidate of Catholic faith was Al Smith. Smith was a New York City politician of working-class origin. After working to enact social reforms into law, he served four terms as Governor. In 1928, he earned the nomination of the Democratic Party for candidate for president. Anti-Catholic sentiment was pervasive at the time, however, and this prejudice greatly affected Smith’s fortunes. The Ku Klux Klan, newly resurgent in the 1920s in part because of anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant sentiment, burned crosses to protest the Democrat’s election campaign. Smith lost to Herbert Hoover, who was inaugurated in 1929.

For more information on Al Smith and anti-Catholicism, visit the American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, which preserves and maintains original records relating to these events. Their Anti-Catholic Literature Collection features anti-Catholic pamphlets circulated at the time of the 1928 U.S. presidential campaign. Blog posts in our Archivist’s Nook series, including one on the eve of Pope Francis’ campus visit, include digitized versions of these pamphlets. In addition, the department maintains other collections of anti-Catholic literature.

Picture of JFK
The Alumni Association presents then-Senator John F. Kennedy with the Cardinal Gibbons Award in 1956.

The first American Catholic to be elected U.S. President was John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was the son of a businessman (who served as first SEC chair and Ambassador to Great Britain), a hero of World War II, and a U.S. Representative, then Senator, from Massachusetts. In 1956, the University’s Alumni Association awarded Kennedy the Cardinal Gibbons Medal at November’s homecoming dance. The Alumni Association had given the award annually to a person who “rendered distinguished service to country, Church, or the Catholic University.” Digitized copies of student newspaper The Tower, maintained by University Libraries, detail Kennedy’s acceptance speech.

Like Smith, Kennedy faced anti-Catholic prejudice in his 1960 run for the presidency. For example, a Protestant organization led by Norman Vincent Peale, the “National Conference of Citizens for Religious Freedom,” politicized Kennedy’s religious faith by accusing him of being captive to the Roman Catholic Church’s views. The young senator dedicated an entire election speech to his political independence and swore that if “[the] office [of the presidency] would require me to either violate my conscience, or violate the national interest, then I would resign.” While Kennedy achieved a narrow win against Richard M. Nixon (who was raised as a Quaker), he faced a double-standard: the win required him, and not his rival, to frequently address his religious faith.

Since Kennedy’s untimely death in 1963, only two Catholics have been nominated by a major political party for the U.S. Presidency: Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, and President-elect Biden. (Pat Buchanan ran under the obscure Reform Party ticket in 2000.) Kerry lost to George W. Bush in 2004, and later served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.

Joe Biden Official Portrait
Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing office at the White House, 2013

Kennedy’s visit in 1956 is one chapter in a series of presidential visits to Brookland. President-elect Biden visited campus at least three times in the 1970s, usually as a guest of student government to speak on the topic of being a Catholic in politics. Keep reading our What’s Up blog for future blog posts on Biden’s connections to The Catholic University of America.

In addition to the archival collections, blog posts, and online documents linked above, check out the online resources linked below to learn more about JFK and religion in U.S. politics.

The author would like to thank Special Collections Archivist Shane MacDonald for assistance in research for this blog post.

References

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life : John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 . 1st ed., Little, Brown, and Co., 2003.

Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Crisis of the Old Order, 1919-1933 . Houghton Mifflin, 1957.

Related Online Resources

Burns, James MacGregor. John Kennedy : a Political Profile . Open Road Integrated Media, 2017.

Casey, Shaun. The Making of a Catholic President Kennedy Vs. Nixon 1960 . Oxford University Press, 2009.

Dallek, Robert., and Robert. Dallek. John F. Kennedy. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Kennedy, John. “John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.” John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, Project Gutenberg.

Smith, Robert Charles. John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance. SUNY Press, 2013.

CUA Papyri

The Catholic University of America has a teaching collection of Coptic, Greek, and Arabic papyri (mostly fragmentary) acquired by Msgr. Henry Hyvernat (1858-1941) in the early twentieth century. This includes 157 numbered items (CUA Museum Hyvernat Collection), along with one Demotic papyrus fragment. The materials are housed in the Semitics/ICOR library.

Bibliographical Note
1984. Leslie S.B. MacCoull, “Coptic Documentary Papyri in the Hyvernat Collection.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 27 (1985) 53-60.
2015. James G. Keenan, “Payment Order for Cavalry Fodder: SB XIV 12116,” Zeitschrift fūr Papyrologie und Epigraphik 193 (2015) 244-248.
2016. Nikolaos Gonis, “A Receipt and Credit Note from Sixth-Century Hermopolis,” Archiv fūr Papyrusforschung 62.1 (2016) 119-120.
2020. Lajos Berkes and Nikolaos Gonis, “Monastic Wine Distributions in the Eighth Century: Papyri from The Catholic University of America,” Journal of Coptic Studies 22 (2020) 1-27.

In 1984 former ICOR Curator Dr. Leslie S.B. MacCoull drew public attention to the CUA collection with her edition of 57 of the papyri. In 2006-2008 Visiting Associate ICOR Curator and papyrologist Dr. Chrysi Kotsifou focused on much-needed conservation initiatives, working with APIS (Advanced Papyrological Information System) representatives. In January 2008 at her suggestion the University Libraries, the Institute of Christian Oriental Research (ICOR) and the Center for the Study of Early Christianity sponsored a two-day conservation seminar in the Semitics/ICOR Library to instruct a group of CUA Libraries staff, faculty and graduate students in the conservation, imaging and cataloging of papyri. Invited participants were trained in APIS-level standards of papyrus conservation. Over the next 18 months the Semitics/ICOR Library held 19 papyrus conservation workshops and successfully treated 107 papyri, removing acidic cardboard mounts and tape; cleaning and aligning papyri fibers, making joins, checking for mold, and glass-mounting papyri. Writing was found under the cardboard mounts of more than one-third of the treated papyri.

Image from Library Papyrus Conservation Workshop
Library Papyrus Conservation Workshop
Participant at Library Papyrus Conservation Workshop
Library Papyrus Conservation Workshop

More attention has been paid to the collection over the past five years. In 2015 James G. Keenan re-edited CUA p75.73 with a new interpretation of this 6th century Greek payment order for cavalry fodder. In 2016 Nikolaos Gonis published a revised edition of CUA p75.02, a 6th century Greek fragmentary text of the reimbursement of an oil worker named Apollos. This year Lajos Berkes and Nikolaos Gonis have published a collection of 17 CUA texts in their article, “Monastic Wine Distributions in the Eighth Century: Papyri from The Catholic University of America.” The texts include a collection of wine delivery orders (Greek-Coptic 8th century), as well as 6th/7th and 7th/8th c. fragments of letters, receipts and accounts. On the first page of this article they provided a succinct description of the CUA collection: “The papyri of the Catholic University of America are mainly Coptic, but there are some (unpublished) texts of the Roman period as well. The bulk of the collection seems to stem from a monastic context.”

CUA p75.20 Wine distribution account.

Papyri from the CUA collection were reviewed in a May Gallery workshop directed by Meghan Howard (Semitics dept. graduate student) following her March 27, 2019 Hyvernat Eve Lecture, “From the Nile to the Seine: Working with Coptic Documentary Papyri from the Collection of the Sorbonne.” In July 2019 Jacco Dieleman, Research Associate Professor (Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures) identified the Demotic papyrus fragment in the collection as part of a larger papyrus scroll from the so-called Tebtunis Temple Library. Papyri were featured in the Oct.-Dec. 2019 May Gallery exhibit for the Center for the Study of Early Christianity’s Christian Culture Conference: “Treasures New and Old: Christian Cultures and Culture in the Patristic Age.” In the Spring 2020 academic semester Janet Timbie, Adjunct Associate Professor (Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures) introduced a new course: SEM 783 Studies in Coptic Epigraphy supported by the Coptic epigraphic (papyri and ostraca) and manuscript collections in the Semitics/ICOR library.

Machine Learning and AI in the Library

Every two years, the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee publishes in College & Research Libraries News an article on the top trends and issues affecting academic libraries and the change our institutions are experiencing. We will be highlighting some of these trends through a number of blog posts over the next few weeks.


When you think of AI, what comes to mind? There are dichotomous images in books and movies. In one view, there is the AI created to support and supplement the work of humans. In the other view, there is the robot uprising. In the library, AI and machine learning can be powerful tools. As with any tool created by man, AI can project biases or inaccurate readings into a situation. With that in mind, responsible and limited use of AI and machine learning can be a resourceful method of expanding limitations within libraries. Image of humanoid robot

What is AI and machine learning?

Encyclopedia Britannica defines AI as “Artificial intelligence (AI), the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.” Machine learning is the branch of AI that programs computers to learn from experience. (Encyclopedia Britannica). John McCarthy, professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University, coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ during the Dartmouth Conference in 1956.

Growth of Research in AI Although the concept of artificial intelligence has been around for decades, popular awareness has grown exponentially. As popular awareness increases, so too does the number of research papers and books. An examination of the Google Books Ngram Viewer indicates a steep increase in the number of books published on the topic of machine learning. The same trend is also evident in the journal literature.

Fig 1: Analysis of term appearing in Google Books Ngram Viewer, 10/27/2020

Web of Science shows 36,603 results for artificial intelligence and 105,220 for machine learning over the past 10 years. The past two years have seen the greatest growth, with an increase of 10,000 titles on machine learning between 2018-2020.

Fig 2: Analysis of term appearing in Web of Science entries, 10/27/2020

Libraries and AI

But what, you may wonder, does a library have to do with artificial intelligence? One lesson we have all learned from the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine is that libraries provide much more than physical collections. The infrastructure that provides access to ebooks, journal articles, and services online also provides access to the big data that could be used to analyze general user needs. For example, adding AI to a bibliometric analysis of required course readings could lead to a forecasting of student research needs, potentially improving student retention as the library pivots to meet those needs. With AI, library collections and services could become more individualized in much the same way that Amazon makes purchase recommendations based on past searches. AI has already changed the way many person-centered jobs are performed. “By 2022, today’s newly emerging occupations are set to grow from 16% to 27% of the employee base of large firms globally, while job roles currently affected by technological obsolescence are set to decrease from 31% to 21%. In purely quantitative terms, 75 million current job roles may be displaced by the shift in the division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms, while 133 million new job roles may emerge at the same time” (World Economic Forum, Future of Work, 2018).

World Economic Forum. (2020) Strategic Intelligence: Bias and Fairness in AI Algorithms. https://intelligence.weforum.org/topics/a1Gb0000000pTDREA2

If you have a smartphone, consider how many times a day you turn to your device to check your calendar, search for the name of a song or an actor, watch a video, or even interact with other smart devices around you. During the pandemic, you may have had more conversations with Alexa or Google Assistant than with a real person. The question may occur to you whether an artificial intelligence bot could do as good a job at service occupations such as librarians. Research shows that acceptance of AI bots for service functions increases based on the anthropomorphism of the bot and the emotional ability of the person to accept AI. (Gursoy, 2019) While we may never see AI bots taking the place of librarians at a university library reference desk, librarians are already using AI to assist with research inquiries. Librarians help researchers navigate and understand the biases that algorithms develop. As Geneva Henry, Dean of Libraries at George Washington University writes, “Searching the internet using popular search engines, for example, can employ deep learning algorithms that continually learn from previous searches.” (Henry, 2019) Librarians often are called to help narrow a search and target the best results from hundreds of thousands that a search engine or database returns.

Ethics of AI

As with all software, AI can evidence the biases written into algorithms by humans. Additionally, because machine learning software is made to develop new neural networks, the algorithms can develop biases not initially observed. A bias can be as simple as listing the most likely link first in a results list, or as insidious as not recognizing the faces of people of color. To overcome bias in AI and machine learning, it’s important to work toward diversity and inclusion in the workplace and programming.

Additional Reading

B.J. Copeland, Artificial intelligence, Encyclopædia Britannica, August 11, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/technology/artificial-intelligence.

McCarthy, John, Marvin L. Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, and Claude E. Shannon. (2006) “A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence, August 31, 1955,” AI Magazine 27, no. 4, 12–14, https://doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v27i4.1904.

Gursoy, D., Chi, O., Lu, L., & Nunkoo, R. (2019). Consumers’ acceptance of artificially intelligent (AI) device use in service delivery. International Journal of Information Management, 49, 157–169, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2019.03.008

Henry, Geneva. (2019) Research Librarians as Guides and Navigators for AI Policies at Universities. Research Library Issues, 299, p. 47-65, https://doi.org/10.29242/rli.299.4

Griffey, Jason, ed. (2019) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Libraries. Library Technology Reports, 55, no. 1, https://doi.org/10.5860/ltr.55n1

Kennedy, Mary Lee. (2019) What do artificial intelligence (AI) and ethics of AI mean in the context of research libraries? Research Library Issues, 299, p. 3-13, https://doi.org/10.29242/rli.299.1

Padilla, Thomas. (2019). Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research, https://doi.org/10.25333/xk7z-9g97

Young, Jeffery R. (2019) “Bots in the Library? Colleges Try AI to Help Researchers (But with Caution),” EdSurge, June 14, 2019, https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-06-14-bots-in-the-library-colleges-try-ai-to-help-researchers-but-with-caution.27

Curbside Pickup and Study Space Reservations: Expansion of Services

The University Libraries has made the following adjustments to our curbside pickup and study space reservations to accommodate more of the university community:

Effective immediately, curbside pickup hours have been expanded.  Once a library patron receives notification that an item is available for pickup, he/she may schedule pickup between the hours of 10 am-noon, M-F and between the hours of 4-5, M, W, and F.

Effective, October 13, the hours that study spaces may be reserved have been adjusted to 11-1, 2-4, and 5-7, M-F.  The gap hour between reservations is for sanitizing the study spaces.  Library users may reserve two time slots per day for a total of 4 hours, but must exit the building after each time slot. All library users will be required to submit a reservation request at least 12 hours in advance of the selected reservation time.

OLL Blog – A 7 de Setembro Like No Other

On this September 7th, both the United States and Brazil are celebrating. In the United States, Labor Day is commemorated on the first Monday of September to honor workers and remember their contributions to society. The date became a national holiday in 1894 and throughout the years also became an informal marker for the end of summer. In 2020, this date coincides with Brazil’s Independence Day. 

Although this year’s celebrations are very different from years past due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both Brazilians and Americans have found ways to remember. Due to these circumstances, we were not able to host our annual exhibit at the Mullen Library to gather friends and colleagues. Nevertheless, we instead gathered virtually last month to officially mark the beginning of a collaboration between the Brazilian Senate and the Oliveira Lima Library that is wrapped in historical importance. The Senate’s Special Curatorial Commission, led by Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, has the mission to organize celebrations of the approaching 200th years of Brazilian independence. On August 17th, in a live meeting broadcast via the Senate’s Youtube Channel, Provost Aaron Dominguez and I met to sign the agreement with members of the Senate’s Special Curatorial Commision, including: Senator Randolfe Rodrigues; Vice President of the Senate Editorial Council and Secretary of the Commission Esther Bermeguy; Heloísa Sterling, historian and member of the Curatorial Committee; and Ilana Trombka, the director general of the Senate.

It is with great pleasure that on this 198th Independence Day, the Oliveira Lima Library announces that with the signature of this cooperative agreement with the Senate’s Special Curatorial Commission, we will have an active role in the celebrations of the Bicentennial of Brazilian Independence in 2022. The Memorandum of Understanding’s stated purposes are to  establish a cooperative relationship between the Federal Senate and the Catholic University of America, aiming at the promotion of knowledge, preservation and dissemination of the personal collection that resulted in the library of the great Brazilian diplomat and historian Manoel de Oliveira Lima, and to establish a partnership in the organization of materials and contents to be exhibited at events related to the theme of the bicentenary, the publication of unpublished works or re-edition of works featured in the collection or other joint initiatives on specific topics of common interest.

Lima, O. (1922). O movimento da independencia, 1821-1822. S. Paulo [etc.]: Comp. melhoramentos de S. Paulo, Weiszfolg irmāos incorporado.
No. 6, O Brasileiro em Portugal: Lisboa 13 de Julho de 1822. Na Typographia Rollandiana. The Oliveira Lima Library Pamphlet Collection.

The projects are underway. Shortly, we will be announcing details on the publications we are preparing. New editions of Oliveira Lima’s books alongside edited volumes of long forgotten and hard to find works are being prepared. Finally, the well-known Independence Pamphlets Collection, which includes documents exclusively found in our collection, will be available for a wider audience in print.

This collaboration fulfills the mission of the Oliveira Lima Library as envisioned by its founder, Manoel de Oliveira Lima, who wished to establish in the United States an institution that would be a source of information for the study of the history of Brazil and a promoter of greater understanding between the two countries. By providing access to documents never before seen in Brazil, illuminating a pivotal moment in history and shedding light on voices of the unheard, we take another step in that direction. Although this is not the 7 de Setembro we had envisioned, we certainly do have a lot to celebrate. Feliz Dia da Independência!

 

The Archivist’s Nook: Conservation in Rare Books

St. Jerome with lion, Epistolae, ca. 1400 (MS 168) Learn more about why Jerome is often pictured with a lion here.

Beginning last year, Special Collections staff began a process of reviewing Catholic University’s Rare Books collection for works facing conservation issues. With over 65,000 works in the collection, we had to focus on the most immediate concerns. Of particular interest was the manuscripts collection, which holds over 200 one-of-a-kind handwritten texts from the medieval to the early modern period, ranging from alchemy treatises to choral books.

After working alongside graduate students and faculty from the Department of Greek and Latin, our staff selected four initial works to send offsite for conservation with local vendor Quarto. The four we chose exhibited serious binding and textual issues that threatened not only the long-term survival of the works but also severely limited their safe access by patrons.

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.

We would like to keep the campus community informed about the progress of this long-term project, so whenever we finish with a batch of books, we will post a blog on the highlights of the returned works. And so without further ado, we present the four most recently conserved works for your consideration:

1. De emandatione pectoris [and various other works], ca. 1450 (MS 114)

This work from the mid-fifteenth century contains theological and spiritual works from a number of late antique and medieval authors, ranging from Caesarius of Arles to Leonardo Bruni.

MS 114 – before (left) and after (right) conservation.

Comparing the before conservation photos (left column) with the after conservation (right column) reveals a subtle, but important, difference. This late medieval text was rebound sometime in the 18th century, with a leather covering that was beginning to experience red rot (a common degradation in vegetable-treated leather). The leather cover was cracked and loose, most notably along the spine. This cracking made it difficult to access the text without further damaging the leather covering and binding around the spine.

To resolve the issues limiting access, the conservators repaired and reaffixed the damaged part of the spine. They also used treatments to clean the textblock (the stacks of pages inside the covers and binding) of the manuscript and slow the process of decay of the leather binding.

2. St. Jerome, Epistolae, ca. 1400 (MS 168)

This northern Italian manuscript of Jerome’s letters is a beautiful work with a gorgeous miniature (a small illustration) on its opening text page (as pictured above). Sadly, accessing the work was difficult without its stabilizing boards attached.

MS 168 – Top and left center photo show the manuscript prior to conservation, with the bottom and right center image after.

Medieval and early modern books are usually bound with wooden boards over the front and back pages, offering stabilization and protection to the textblock contained between them. The boards, which are bound together with the textblock, are then covered with leather. These wooden boards can experience rotting or damage, but in this case, the binding had loosened, causing the boards to become completely detached from the textblock and spine. This made accessing the text difficult without adding damaging pressure onto the first few pages of the text.

In the collage on the right, you can see what the manuscript looked like a year ago, including how the front and back cover boards were completely loose.  On the bottom and right center photos, you can see the work Quarto did to restore the binding. The conservators rebound the boards to the textblock and added chemical solutions to stabilize the cover’s leather.

3. Johannes Canonicus, Quaestiones supra octo libros physicorum, 1364 (MS 169)

This may have been the most challenging of the works sent offsite. A manuscript reflecting on Aristotle’s Physics, the entire binding and cover boards of the work were warped, pest damaged, and decayed to such a degree that it was virtually impossible to safely open the manuscript. But this was a popularly requested manuscript from researchers!

MS 169 – Top photos are before conservation, with the bottom two after.

To complicate matters, the cover boards appear to be original to the text, dating from the 14th century. However, the spine is coated and bound in a much later (19th century) paper binding, including bits of newsprint. This paper binding had rapidly deteriorated and was marked with evidence of past insect infestation. The binding was effectively non-existent, with the work and its textblock loose. Even attempting to open the book was difficult and caused damage to the text. Serious work was needed to stabilize it for continued use.

You can see the end result of Quarto’s work above. Keeping the original boards and binding was nigh-impossible, so the conservators created replica boards and alum-tawed calf cover (a calf leather prepared with a liquid solution to create a white appearance) — mimicking the style and weight of the original — with new binding.

MS 169 – String and paper binding shown on top, with original board on bottom.

But fear not! We do not toss out book materials in rare books! These pieces can tell us so much about the original production of a work or later restoration, rebindings, or conservation work. So the original boards, spine, and threads have all been kept and added to our collections. Patrons wishing to access the collections may see these pieces, alongside the restored manuscript.

4. German prayer book, 1440-80 (MS 178)

Our final work is a fifteenth-century prayer book from Germany. A small, but bulky text, this work presented an interesting challenge. Not only was the front board missing and the original binding exposed, but several pages were loose throughout the text. The back board was still present and attached, with the original leather partially covering it (but cracking and brittle). With cracking leather and an exposed textblock, handling this work was precarious.

MS 178 – Left column of images are before conservation, with the right after.

In the left column, you can see the manuscript prior to conservation. On the right is the manuscript after conservation. The goal was to stabilize the textblock for access and preserve the original binding, board, and leather. In order to do so, Quarto crafted a facsimile board for the cover, worked to stabilize the surviving leather, and reattach the loose pages. Without modifying or removing the original binding threads, the conservation team attached the new board to the front and developed a paper chemise (a case in which a book is stored) to offer an extra layer of protection to the text and binding. This chemise is easily removable (as seen in the photos) and will allow patrons to study the original binding, board, and leather. When not needed for viewing, the chemise can be slipped back on to protect these original components.

While there are many details that this post did not cover with respect to conservation efforts — especially when it comes to cleaning the textblock’s pages — we welcome all patrons to send us questions about the conservation process or these manuscripts.

As we work on our conservation efforts, we will continue to update the community. In the meantime, if you have any questions about accessing the above manuscripts or any materials in Rare Books or Special Collections, please contact us at: lib-rarebooks@cua.edu

Our digitized manuscripts may also be viewed at this link.

The Archivist’s Nook: Teleworking in the Archives

After a few months away, finally back in the stacks. Something seems different?

During spring break week in mid March, as many of the Catholic University community were away from campus, the Archives staff met to discuss our contingency plans for the spreading pandemic. Our researchers from across the United States and the world were beginning to cancel or delay scheduled appointments, and we began to determine how best to shift our services and resources online. With little time to prepare, we readied the stacks for a possible long-term closure.

Friday, March 13, 2020 would end up being the last normal day of work at the Archives. (Yes, Friday the 13th was when our “luck” ran out.)

When we think of essential workers during the current crisis, we rightly think of medical professionals, delivery drivers, grocery and pharmacy employees, custodians, etc. But even among those professions mostly teleworking, there are those who exercise an essential function. In addition to the facilities staff (a huge shout out to them!), many administrators and librarians at Catholic University have continued coming to campus to assist in the transition to online instruction, to guarantee that students and faculty (as well as most staff) could remain safely at home.

My home office, with a book to prop up my laptop for Zoom sessions and serve as comforting reading when I need a break.

As for the Archives staff, we need to monitor our collections to guarantee that the humidity and temperature levels are maintained at proper levels, that leaks are not occurring, or that bugs are not infesting the stacks! Plus, as many online collections as we have, most of our materials are still only available onsite. Each of our staff received a letter marking us as essential employees, able to come in to protect the collections during the strictest period of the DC shutdown.

Does that mean we took unnecessary risks to visit the stacks? No. Most of us continued to telework, with two of our staff (who live close by or can drive in) stopping in one to two days a week to check the collections. (A special thank you to Archivist, John Shepherd, and Special Collections Technician, Brandi Marulli, for keeping the onsite stacks maintained during the first few months of the pandemic. Not to mention Curator, Maria Mazzenga, and Graduate Library Pre-professional, Amanda Bernard, for expanding our digital presence during the shutdown.) As for me? I began to return to the onsite collections in June.

“Stay Home” signage lines the streets of my neighborhood. One morning, I found one such sign sitting like this just outside my house. Cleaning up or an artistic statement?

Overall, I have been fortunate thus far. I’ve been able to mostly telework, have kept my livelihood, and been healthy. As a current graduate student, despite my displeasure at endless Zoom sessions, my remote classes have kept me busy. (Knitting during Zoom classes tends to help me stay focused on the lecture/discussion!)

With that said, I do live alone. Many days are long, with my small basement apartment becoming the center for my entire life. For over four months, often the only outdoor activity I may get is an occasional walk or an early morning trip to the grocery store.

My family is back in central Nebraska, and they reside mere blocks from a meatpacking plant forced to remain open, despite becoming a hot spot for the virus. My family had no options for teleworking and the local authorities seemed unwilling to take the pandemic seriously. For months, almost every morning, before logging into my laptop to work remotely, I would talk to my relatives on the phone to see how everyone was doing and check in myself. (So far, so good!)

George Avenue in late March, after the Maryland and DC “stay at home” orders went into effect. This is at the height of rush hour, when this road is usually bumper-to-bumper traffic.

All this has made me reflect on my short- and long-term plans. Every year, I visit my family several times. But not in 2020. Maybe not in 2021. Wherever I have been in life, I have always found my way back to Nebraska every Christmas and New Years, to see my family and childhood friends. This may be the first time in my life I must skip that journey, for fear of risking my family’s safety by traveling.

I worry about finances, as so many schools and businesses face tough economic choices. I consider my meager savings now as not only a cushion for myself but possibly for my distant family and friends.

While taking graduate coursework during a pandemic is a challenge unto itself, I am relieved to have the distraction. But also taking these courses has helped provide a sense that my life is not stagnating in quarantine, that I am advancing in some capacity while sitting at home most of the week.

I have friends and family who are public school teachers, rewriting their wills as they are potentially put back into classrooms too early, grocery store workers and truck drivers on the “front lines” for months on end with no breaks, and childcare workers furloughed. I know people who (incorrectly) claim the virus is a hoax, and others who will never leave their homes out of fear of getting sick. I know people afraid, people struggling, and people offering hope.

I live mere blocks from a food pantry. One to two days a week since late March, a long line has stretched down the street from it. It is heart-breaking to see, but it is also encouraging that the pantry keeps helping. Volunteers still go in, despite any personal risks to health. Food is still being handed out to each person in that line. Donations keep coming in.

Mullen Library main stairwell, with not a soul around.

Collecting stories can be exhausting – reliving my own experiences of the pandemic or empathizing with those submitting their own accounts – but it is crucial work to preserve our tales for the future, to vocalize our experiences, and to help us understand that we are part of a broader web of human experiences during challenging times.

There are millions of stories during this pandemic. Many negative, some positive, and most still being written.

Keeping a journal myself, I want to end with one short reflection I wrote a few weeks ago, after I came to campus and had entered the still-closed library:

As I entered Mullen Library at 6:30 in the morning to check on the collections, I found myself alone in the building. Staring over my face covering and fogged-up glasses, I found a sight I usually love – a quiet, uncrowded library.

But not like this.

Not for these reasons.

Not due to a pandemic keeping patrons away and staff at home. Not from an economic crisis forcing us to make hard choices about what services we can provide. Not due to BIPOC students feeling targeted on campus, thus feeling unwelcome in their own library.

So many of us as individuals, groups, and localities have sacrificed to slow this pandemic, have helped those hurting economically, and have protested and started the long-term processes of confronting our own internalized and institutionalized racism.

Staring around me at dawn, this quiet library served as a reminder of both these challenges facing us and the collective actions we are taking to address them.

It is shuttered to help us control the spread of a virus. It is quiet due to staff mostly teleworking, with the Library working to maintain their employment and health in uncertain times. It is a time in which libraries are further reflecting on and working to address institutionalized racism in the profession, while providing (usually digital) sources to help others learn about these issues.

What will define this empty library – the challenges of the present moment or the work that hopefully helps and changes our culture? I’m a historian, not a seer, but I’ll do my best with my small platform in this currently quiet library to help.

In a few short weeks, there may be more people going up and down these stairs. While I’d like to see that, I do have concerns. So I’ll keep my mask and hope handy.

Just one account among many during these times of pandemic, social change, and economic upheaval.

To learn more about submitting your own story, please see this form. Questions or concerns can be addressed to: lib-archives+covid19@cua.edu

Suddenly Teaching Online? Help is Here

While we look forward to the return of students and faculty to campus, it’s quite evident that this upcoming academic year will look very different from any in the past. The last two weeks of the Fall 2020 semester will be taught remotely, and final exams will be take-home or online. In addition, many classrooms on campus will be upgraded to support hybrid learning environments.

With this in mind, many of our faculty are working hard to move course content online, as well as refine courses that were moved online on short notice this past spring. University Libraries has compiled some resources to support faculty in these efforts.

LinkedIn Learning Courses

LinkedIn Learning Logo
The LinkedIn Learning video course library is available to all within the CUA community.

Members of the CUA community have access to LinkedIn Learning, an online video training library with thousands of courses and videos on a range of topics. Here are some relevant courses and sections:

Learning to Teach Online

  • Beginner Skill Level, 46 minutes
  • This course is designed to help instructors update their skill sets to teach effectively online. The course instructor shows the links between high-quality instruction and online education. He provides a framework for creating a digital classroom and guidance to get students interacting with the course material, the instructor, and each other.
  • Link to course: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/learning-to-teach-online/

Moving Your Class Online Quickly and Efficiently

  • General Skill Level, 1 hour 7 minutes
  • As the name suggests, this course breaks down how to move a course designed for face-to-face instruction online. The instructors provide strategies for breaking down your existing syllabus and a step-by-step guide for moving the course online. This course covers the process of incorporating both synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning opportunities into a newly virtual classroom.
  • Link to course: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/moving-your-class-online-quickly-and-efficiently/

Teaching with Technology

Image of student watching online teacher
Courses available through LinkedIn Learning provide strategies for engaging students in online courses.

Teaching Techniques: Making Accessible Learning

  • Intermediate Skill Level
  • The section linked below provides an overview of some tools that can be used to increase accessibility for online course content.
  • Section 4 (16 minutes): Technology Accommodations for Learning

Teaching Online: Synchronous Classes

  • Intermediate Skill Level, 1 hour 12 minutes
  • This course provides tools, tips, and techniques for leading real-time virtual instruction. No matter which teaching tool you use, from Adobe Connect to Blackboard to Google Hangouts, instructors can apply these lessons to their digital classroom to increase collaboration and connection among students in a synchronous online class.
  • Link to course: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/teaching-online-synchronous-classes/welcome?u=56747785

Blackboard Essential Training

  • Intermediate Skill Level, 49 minutes
  • While faculty at CUA already use Blackboard, the online test feature may be new to some. These sections walk through the process for developing, distributing, and evaluating tests through Blackboard.
  • Section 9 (45 minutes): Creating Online Tests
  • Section 10 (38 minutes): Deploying and Grading Tests

Teaching Technical Skills Through Video

  • Intermediate Skill Level, 43 minutes
  • For professors who teach technical skills such as programming, this course provides a variety of tools to deliver lessons via video. The instructor shows how to understand each student’s learning style and then use support material, adapt existing online content, and record videos to teach technical skills.
  • Link to course: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/teaching-technical-skills-through-video/

 e-Books

Image of a distance learner working on an online course.
Some of the e-books in the library’s catalog include interactive sections to support the process of online course design.

A Guide to Online Course Design: Strategies for Student Success

  • From the publisher description: “This book…includes effective instructional strategies to motivate online learners, help them become more self-directed, and develop academic skills to persist and successfully complete a program of study online. It also includes a more in-depth understanding of instructional design principles to support faculty as they move their face-to-face courses to the online environment” (emphasis added).
  • Stavredes, T., & Herder, T. (n.d.). A guide to online course design: strategies for student success (1st ed.). Jossey-Bass.

The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips

  • From the publisher description: “Covering all aspects of online teaching, this book reviews the latest research in cognitive processing and related learning outcomes while retaining a focus on the practical. A simple framework of instructional strategies mapped across a four-phase timeline provides a concrete starting point for both new online teachers and experienced teachers designing or revamping an online course. Essential technologies are explored in their basic and expanded forms, and traditional pedagogy serves as the foundation for tips and practices customized for online learning” (emphasis added).
  • Boettcher, J., & Conrad, R. (2016). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

The Blended Course Design Workbook: A Practical Guide

  • From the publisher description: “The Blended Course Design Workbook meets the need for a user-friendly resource that provides faculty members and administrators with instructions, activities, tools, templates, and deadlines to guide them through the process of revising their traditional face-to-face course into a blended format. Providing a step-by-step course design process that emphasizes active learning and student engagement, this book will help instructors adapt traditional face-to-face courses to a blended environment by guiding them through the development of course goals and learning objectives, assignments, assessments, and student support mechanisms with technology integration in mind. It will also help instructors choose the right technologies based on an instructor’s comfort level with technology and their specific pedagogical needs” (emphasis added).
  • Linder, K. (2017). The Blended Course Design Workbook: A Practical Guide. Stylus Publishing.

The New Roadmap for Creating Online Courses: An Interactive Workbook

  • From the publisher description: “Whether you are an instructor, instructional designer, or part of a team, this interactive workbook will help you create effective online courses to engage your learners. Key features of the workbook include integrating cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of learning; explaining the central role of self-reflection, dialogue, and realistic application; the incorporation of themes, scenarios, and characters to provide relevant and meaningful learning experiences; and the use of semiotics for inclusion of diverse learners.”
  • Barber, C., & Maboudian, W. (2020). The New Roadmap for Creating Online Courses: An Interactive Workbook. Cambridge University Press.

Faculty members who are looking for e-resources to include in course syllabi may visit the Libraries COVID-19 Information Guide section on e-resources. The library website also has guides for specific subjects that include e-resources for students and researchers. Finally, faculty are encouraged to contact their subject liaison librarians to request specific resources and/or provide support for online and face-to-face instruction.

OLL Blog – Un acercamiento a la historia africana a través del Vocabulario de Bluteau – Andrea Guerrero-Mosquera

Un acercamiento a la historia africana a través del Vocabulario de Bluteau

Andrea Guerrero-Mosquera

Profesora en la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco

E-mail: guerrero.andrea10@gmail.com

Twitter: @Andreag1086

La Biblioteca Oliveira Lima posee una importante colección de libros raros, en los que se puede encontrar rastros de la histórica relación entre Brasil y África, y, no es para menos, la historia africana y brasileña comparten una historia común marcada por la trata de africanos.

Pero ¿qué podemos encontrar en la Biblioteca Oliveira Lima al respecto? Entre otras cosas, la Relaçam annual del jesuita Fernão Guerreiro (1605), De gedenkwaardige voyagie de Andrew Battell (1706), entre otros textos que nos permiten introducirnos e iniciarnos en la historia de África como lo es el texto de Olfert Dapper (1673). En esta ocasión, nuestro interés se centrará en este último texto en mancuerna con el diccionario de Bluteau.

Semanas atrás, la Dra. Nathalia Henrich nos mencionó: “No collection of literature of the Lusophone world worthy of its name is complete without the presence of Camilo Castelo Branco”; a lo que quisiéramos agregar, ninguna col

Bluteau, Rafael. Vocabulario portuguez…1716. Oliveira Lima Library, The Catholic University of America.

ección lusófona está completa sin el Vocabulário portuguez e latino de Bluteau (1716). Este reconocido erudito de la lengua portuguesa escribió ocho tomos de un diccionario lexicográfico que nos permite entender algunos aspectos relevantes del uso del portugués del siglo XVIII e incluso, de años anteriores.

La relación entre estos dos textos radica en que Bluteau cita, en varias ocasiones, el texto de Dapper (la versión francesa de 1686), en las que menciona algunas palabras que hacen referencia directa a África. Por ello, en esta ocasión, sólo mencionaremos dos vocablos: pombeiros y mandingas.

En la primera, hace referencia específicamente al comercio esclavista al mencionar que los portugueses en Angola les enseñaron a leer, escribir y contar a los pombeiros para que pudieran negociar en los pumbos(1720, 588) que estaban en sertão. Más adelante, hace referencia a Dapper (1686, 359) para anotar que los pombeiros solían estar fuera de “casa de seus senhores” años enteros dado que se encontraban “ocupados em comprar escravos, marfim, cobre, & outras mercancías” (Ibíd.). Esta definición en particular, no sólo nos ofrece el contexto geográfico: Angola; si no que, además testifica la trata negrera era realizada por mediadores que previamente habían sido “entrenados” para esa labor.

Este aspecto es muy importante a la hora de conocer parte de la historia de la trata negrera por tres razones: primero porque nos muestra que el comercio iba de la mano de otras actividades comerciales; segundo, porque nos ilustra el periodo que podría tardarse todo el proceso, lo que nos ubica, de una u otra manera en otra dimensión del proceso comercial que va más allá de lo popularmente se nos enseña en los libros de textos; y, tercero, nos reseña cómo se desarrolló la trata negrera en África central, actividad en la que estaban involucrados los europeos y sus mediadores, en este caso los pombeiros.

El segundo vocablo se aleja un poco del contexto esclavista y nos sumerge en la herencia africana en América. Cuando Bluteau intenta definir qué es Mandinga no se limita con ilustrar acerca del origen de este grupo de personas, sino que va más allá, y, retomando el texto de Dapper (1686, 245), los describe como grandes hechiceros (feiticheros) que, según Fromont (2020, 7), es una acepción derivada de un lusitanismo que los marineros portugueses acuñaron de la palabra “fetiche”, que a su vez fue un vocablo usado en Guiné para nombrar a los “ídolos”.

Posteriormente, hace referencia a las bolsas mandingas, elementos a los que otorga poderes de protección que “fazem impenetraveis às estocadas, como se tem experimentado nesta Corte, & neste Reyno de Portugal em varias ocasiones” (1716, 286).

Vendedoras con amuletos colgados al cuello y la cintura

Pero, ¿qué son las bolsas mandingas? Se dice que eran amuletos usados en el contexto atlántico portugués, e incluso se dice que llegaron al Caribe hispano y a la India. Estos elementos consistían en pequeños paquetes de tela cosida; podían contener semillas, cabellos y papeles con oraciones. Dichos amuletos eran usados como protección, y, en el caso de las personas esclavizadas, se sabe que las bolsas eran usadas como ayuda para evadir los abusos de los esclavistas y, también se usaron en cuestiones del “bien querer, es decir, en situaciones de tipo amoroso. También servían, como ya lo ha citado Bluteau, para evitar que las armas penetraran en el cuerpo ya fueran puñaladas o heridas de bala, y, asimismo, se usaban para evitar picaduras de serpientes.

Carlos Julião, Negras vendedoras de rua, (s.f.) Biblioteca Nacional de Brasil.

En líneas generales, las bolsas mandingas sirvieron a la población como forma de protegerse ante diversos eventos. Estos elementos hacen parte de la cultura material de la herencia africana, y su presencia es indiscutible en el mundo atlántico portugués, e incluso, más allá. De ahí la importancia de conocer su origen y su utilidad dentro de la población de origen africano.

Por todo lo anterior, en esta pequeña entrada quisimos explorar algunos aspectos de la historia de África que se pueden consultar en la Biblioteca Oliveira Lima, que, como se pudo ver en el texto, indagar sobre las culturas africanas en las colecciones de la biblioteca es factible. Lo anterior, teniendo en cuenta que el acervo documental es extraordinario, y, por medio de este, podemos acceder a algunos textos que nos pueden ayudar a entender el entramado comercial de la trata negrera y, al mismo tiempo, son textos que nos permiten comprender de dónde provenían algunas de las manifestaciones culturales africanas, cómo eran representadas en la literatura y cómo estas están enmarcadas dentro de un contexto narrativo particular: el de los viajeros.

Bibliografía citada

AHU, Fundo do Conselho ultramarino, Série Angola, Cx. 8, D. 959. Consulta do Conselho Ultramarino ao rei D. Afonso VI sobre o requerimento dos oficiais da câmara e moradores de Angola.

Battell, Andrew. De gedenkwaardige voyagie van Andries Battell van Leigh in Essex, na Brasilien : en desselfs wonderlijke avontuuren, zijnde gevangen gebragt van de Portugijsen na Angola, alwaar en waar ontrent [sic] hy by-na 18. jaren gewoond heeft. Ao. 1589. en vervolgens. Te Leyden: By Pieter Van der Aa, 1706.

Bluteau, Rafael. Vocabulario portuguez, e latino, aulico, anatomico, architectonico, bellico, botanico … autorizado com exemplos dos melhores escritores portuguezes e latinos e offerecido a El Rey de Portugal D. Joaõ V. Coimbra, No Collegio das Artes da Companhia de Jesu, 1716.

Bluteau, Rafael. Vocabulario portuguez, e latino, aulico, anatomico, architectonico, bellico, botanico … autorizado com exemplos dos melhores escritores portuguezes e latinos e offerecido a El Rey de Portugal D. Joaõ V. Coimbra, No Collegio das Artes da Companhia de Jesu, 1720.

Dapper, Olfert. Die Unbekante Neue Welt, oder, Beschreibung des Welt-teils Amerika, und des Sud-Landes. Darinnen vom Uhrsprunge der Ameriker und Sudländer und von den gedenckwürdigen Reysen der Europer darnach zu.  Wie auch von derselben Festen Ländern, Inseln, Städten, Festungen, Dörfern, vornähmsten Gebeuen, Bergen, Brunnen, Flüssen und Ahrten der Tiere, Beume, Stauden, und anderer fremden Gewächse; Als auch von den Gottes-und Götzen-diensten, Sitten, Sprachen, Kleider-trachten, wunderlichen Begäbnissen, und so wohl alten als neuen Kriegen, ausführlich gehandelt wird Zu Amsterdam: Bey Jacob von Meurs, auf der Keysersgraft, in der Stadt Meurs, 1673.

Fromont, Cécile. “Paper, Ink, Vodun, and the Inquisition: Tracing Power, Slavery, and Witchcraft in the Early Modern Portuguese Atlantic.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion Vol. 88, No. 2, 2020, pp. 460-504.

Guerreiro, Fernão. Relaçam annal das cousas que fezeram os padres da Companhia de Iesus nas partes da India Oriental, & no Brasil, Angola, Cabo Verde, Guine, nos annos de seiscentos & dous & seiscentos & tres, & do processo da conuersam, & christandade daquellas partes, tirada das cartas dos mesmos padres que de là vieram Em Lisboa: Per Iorge Rodrigues, Impressor de liuros, 1605.

OLL Blog — My path to librarianship and the Oliveira Lima Library

Earlier this month, Fine Books & Collections posted an interview with me as part of their series Bright Young Librarians. While my tendency toward self-deprecation would lead me to question those qualifiers – months of sheltering-in-place I has got me feeling particularly dim and old – I was nevertheless thrilled to be featured in a publication of such note among my colleagues. It was a wonderful chance to speak about both the work Dr. Nathalia Henrich and I have been doing at the Oliveira Lima Library and the circumstances that brought me here. In the interest of highlighting the immense value of our collection and our role in maximizing that value, I’d like to take this opportunity to expand a bit on my remarks.

Apart from my love of history, what most drew me to the the field of librarianship was the social commitment of the library, the idea that the guarantee of access and use of library materials should be the driving force behind the development and implementation of theory and practice. To me, that idea is best expressed in the concept of stewardship. As Sharon Farb puts it, stewardship is, among other things, ‘service on behalf of users and on behalf of society.’ As library professionals such as Daniel Greenstein and Meg Bellinger have noted, while the Digital Age has challenged us to rethink our notions of preservation and ownership, it has also offered us opportunities to think of documented cultural memory in terms of interconnected networks, where the movement and exchange of knowledge takes precedence over the mere guardianship of materials.

This idea of stewardship has greatly eased my own personal anxieties and insecurities as a professional still relatively wet behind the ears. I often agonize over just the right content and structure of catalog records, wading through the mire of numbers and codes. In publishing a new record to our online catalog, I hope to create something laudable and unassailable by my peers. While these are certainly worthy goals, they should never get in the way of access. If I am uneasy about a record I have just created, I can rest assured that by making available to the public materials previously unknown, I am starting a conversation that will never end. Whatever gaps in my knowledge will be filled by those who come to use our collection. Nothing, certainly not my work as a cataloger, is written in stone. Beyond that, if our society’s current discussion has taught me anything, monuments to the past neither are nor should be protected from serious conversations.

In a way, this last point informs the work of Dr. Henrich and I. To be sure, we have been bestowed with the responsibility of keeping alive the memory of Manoel and Flora de Oliveira Lima; we are not, however, in the business of apotheosizing their memory nor the materials in their collection. The purpose of our work is to offer our holdings to the scrutiny of those wishing to undertake the serious and responsible endeavor of scholarship, regardless of their academic titles and honors. I find this in keeping with the legacy of Dr. Oliveira Lima, a man who was neither diffident in debate, intransigent in his political and social views, nor lacking in humor, even when it came to the caricatures of himself which often exaggerated his corpulence.