AP History Notes

Posts Tagged ‘archives’

Know Your Archives: American Friends Service Committee Or Friends in Low Places

Today’s post is a continuation of our “Know Your Archives” Series. Previous posts include information about the National Archives at College Park, American Antiquarian Society, LDS Church History Archives (and others related to the next generation of Mormon Studies), and the Archdiocese of New York, to name only a few. Readers embarking on their own research trips are invited to submit “Know Your Archives” pieces to Cara.

Our guest contributor is Guy Aiken, a PhD Candidate in American Religions at the University of Virginia. Guy’s dissertation, “Quaker Relief and the Politics of Neutrality, 1919-1941: Triumph and Tragedy,” will be about the American Friends Service Committee’s massive child feeding programs in Germany after the Great War and in southern Appalachia during the Great Depression. In this post, Guy recalls his first introduction to the archivists of the American Friends Service Committee.

Guy Aiken

Deep in the bowels of the earth, a man sits alone at his desk. He is an archivist—no, more than that: he is a finding aid. Linear feet collapse comfortably in his brain. He mentally bestrides mountains of material like a colossus. He is Don Davis, archivist and finding aid for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Philadelphia.

According to Don, “The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker based organization. Founded in the tumult of World War I, the AFSC provided relief to the civilian casualties of World War I and provided conscientious objectors a means by which they could contribute without being placed in a position to do harm to another human being. The AFSC operated relief missions throughout the world during and after both World Wars and afterwards worked in support of peace issues throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, Latin America and Caribbean.  Currently the organization works on programs that promote lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action.” The AFSC has thorough archival records of all of this work.

Well, ok, so maybe the archive isn’t actually deep in the bowels of the earth, but only a few feet under ground. And maybe Don Davis doesn’t have millions of documents filed individually in his brain like some extorting genius in Sherlock Holmes, but only the box or range of boxes where you’re likely to find what you’re looking for. Still, he is a friend (among Friends) in low places who, when asked where the finding aid is, points at his head. Where can I find documents about the AFSC being responsible for the initial publication of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”? Just ask Don. What about the AFSC’s Rights of Conscience Fund for legal defense in civil liberties cases? Don knows. The AFSC’s share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947? The child feeding on both sides of the Spanish Civil War? The Quaker-Gestapo summit after Kristallnacht in December 1938? Yup, you guessed it.


Don and I met online. Two years ago when I started working on American Quakers in post-Great War Germany, where the AFSC teamed up with fellow Quaker Herbert Hoover and his European Children’s Fund to feed millions of children and mothers slowly starving from war and blockade, I had no idea where to start. I had a small summer research grant from UVa and an “incomplete” in a graduate seminar I needed to, well, “complete.” I poked around the library’s online catalog until I found an article in Quaker History on the AFSC’s feeding in Poland. I emailed the author (Lyn Back), who put me in touch with Don, who had me fill out a digital info sheet with my requested dates for visiting (second week of June 2013) and my research topic (AFSC child feeding in Germany). That was it.

Late May 2013. I’ve moved my trip up a week to avoid the men’s U.S. Open (golf) outside Philly. I’ve borrowed a friend’s digital camera. I’m ready to go. Then I get an email from Don. He’s going to be out of town that Monday when I’m supposed to arrive. I’m momentarily dismayed. But he has an assistant (Nathaniel Doubleday). The assistant will be there. And he (Don) will set out some boxes.

Finally I’m there. Sure enough, boxes from 1920 are waiting for me tucked in a corner cubicle of the AFSC’s Finance Department. Off the opposite corner sits the archive with its automated shelving—metal arms flexing and stretching atop the shelves—and its row upon row of boxes—gray sometimes fading impossibly into bright pink for the early years, tan or off-white for more recent times. My boxes are a dull gray.

The stories they hold are anything but. Hoover asked the AFSC in late 1919 to run the feeding in Germany. The AFSC was barely two-and-a-half years old, and had been founded primarily not as a relief agency but as an alternative to the armed forces for draft-eligible Quaker college boys and other conscientious objectors to the Great War. Yet these Quakers seized their chance to show the world what it meant to love one’s “enemies.” The first 18 AFSC volunteers crossed the Atlantic aboard an ocean liner whose cargo included the largest shipment of mail in history, and they arrived in Berlin via Hamburg just after the New Year, 1920. But the ship carrying their food had to turn around due to mechanical problems. A second ship docks at Hamburg—with whiskey instead of food. Meanwhile, parents in Saxony are reportedly selling their daughters for a sack of potatoes each. Finally, the first ship, now seaworthy, returns with food, and the first feeding takes place in Berlin at the end of February.

Five years later, about 30 AFSC volunteers have worked with about 30,000 German ones to feed one meal every day for six months to one quarter of all German children born between 1909 and 1919.

That’s about as far as I got in 2013. It’s two years later, and I’m spending the semester in Philadelphia to be close to the AFSC archive. I’ve discovered that some of the AFSC volunteers came back to humanitarian work in the US; one helped run the AFSC’s feeding in Appalachia in the early 1930s. Others stayed vitally engaged with international affairs: one was named municipal commissioner of Jerusalem by the UN in 1948; another worked down the hall from H. L. Mencken as a foreign-affairs editor at The Baltimore Sun; still another accompanied John Nevin Sayre to Nicaragua in 1927-8 as part of a joint FOR-AFSC effort to keep US Marines and General Sandino from fighting each other. Several went back to Central Europe in the 1930s under the AFSC and helped Jews and non-Aryans emigrate from the Reich and its domains. And one wrote a devotional classic that got me interested in the whole story to begin with.

I take the train to Suburban Station in Center City almost every day—“suburban,” literally “below the city.” If you got off the train and immediately tunneled due north for two blocks you’d end up in Don Davis’s office. He’s so equable he’d probably just smile, shake your hand, and ask you what you’d like to see. He’d show you the bathroom so you could clean off some of the dirt and rubble. And then you’d walk back into that corner cubicle and find your boxes waiting for you.

Roman Sources for the History of American Catholicism: A New Perspective

This month Cushwa welcomes Matteo Binasco, who has been working as a postdoctoral fellow based in Rome since September 2014. He holds a PhD from the National University of Ireland in Galway, and his research focuses on missionary expansion within the Atlantic area; Irish communities within the Italian peninsula; and Irish communities in the Caribbean during the early modern period. Matteo recently helped to organize a symposium in Rome on Roman Sources for the Study of Global Irish Catholicism. His primary project for Cushwa, however, has been the massive task of compiling a guide for English-speaking historians to the many archives of Rome, including those of religious orders and Vatican congregations, which can shed light on the history of American Catholicism and indeed, as with the example he gives of a letter from a Union officer, on American history in general.

Matteo Binasco

Since September 2014 I have been involved in a new exciting research project, supervised by Professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings in cooperation with Professor Luca Codignola and Professor Matteo Sanfilippo, which aims to prepare a guide to Roman archival sources related to the history of American Catholicism for the period from 1763 until 1939.

View of Rome, taken just outside the Archives of Propaganda Fide

This project follows a path which was first laid out almost a century ago. In 1911, American historian Carl Russell Fish set the agenda by publishing his Guide to the Materials for American History in Roman and Other Italian Archives. His Guide was a remarkable work which was completed within a very short time. In its broad geographical scope Fish included all documents related to North America, the Caribbean, and the northern part of Mexico.

Fish’s Guide opened a research path that, since the mid-1960s, has been progressively expanded thanks to the research carried out by a series of American, Canadian, and Italian historians who have worked in the main religious archives of Rome, namely the Vatican Secret Archives and the archives of the Sacred Congregation “de Propaganda Fide.” The latter was the Roman ministry founded in 1622 to oversee missionary activity in Protestant and non-Christian regions. These investigations resulted in the publication of articles, books, and essays, but also guides, among which L’Amérique du Nord française dans les archives religieuses de Rome, published in 1999, stands out.[1] This guide, which covers the years from 1600 to 1922, provides the best overview of the Roman sources for the history of the Catholic church in Canada to date and includes a number of items of interest for US historians.



Yet, up until now, there has been no guide specifically devoted to the Roman sources for the history of American Catholicism for the period 1763-1939. The two chronological limits correspond to the end of the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) – which substantially altered the political and religious pattern of North America – and the beginning of World War II, the date after which the majority of the holdings within the religious archives in Rome are closed for consultation. This longer period is of crucial importance because it permits us to understand and assess the different phases experienced by American Catholicism, from its establishment and development to its rise as a global phenomenon. 
Urban College of Propaganda Fide, near archives
The guide I have been compiling aims to be a new research instrument for both established historians and graduate students who must draw on the Roman material for their researches. It will provide three key pieces of information: 1) contacts details of the archives, that is, their address, phone numbers, email addresses, websites, names of the current archivists, and modality of access; 2) a brief history of the archives and of the institutions associated with them; 3) a description of the holdings with special regard to American Catholicism, mentioning some exemplary documents.

Given the large number of archives which are in Rome and which I had to opportunity to visit during this year, it is rather difficult to emphasize which depository is more important rather than another. However, I would like to emphasize the wealth of material for the history of American Catholicism contained in the “minor” archives. By “minor” I mean archives which have been overlooked by the majority of the historians who instead have devoted their attention to the Vatican Secret Archives or to the Archives of Propaganda. 

Letter from Capt. Henry Seton to Dom Bernard Smith, 1862
One example of the potentialities offered by these “minor” archives is provided by the Abbey of St. Paul Outside the Walls. This preserves the correspondence of the Irish Benedictine Dom Bernard Smith (1812-92). He had a prominent role in Rome, where he acted as pontifical agent for a number of Australian, English, Irish, and North American bishops and clerics from the early 1840s until the late 1880s. Smith corresponded with the majority of the American bishops. His letters are literally a goldmine for reconstructing the development and expansion of the most prominent American dioceses. Beyond the members of the hierarchy, Smith also established links with influential lay people. One of them was Henry Seton (1839-1927), second son of William and Emily Seton and captain of the Unionist Army, who, at mid-July 1862, funneled to Smith a report on the Civil War from Virginia, stressing how “[t]his is a war to the death – no compromise.”[2]

The archives of St. Paul Outside the Walls also contain a bundle of letters written by Paolo Marella, an Italian cleric who worked as auditor at the apostolic delegation of Washington during the years from 1922 to 1933. One of his letter provides a very funny perspective that the Italian people had on the Americans during that period. Indeed, in a letter dated March 1922, Marella stated: “[I]t is full of Protestants of any sect. When I see the boys on the street I pity to think that the great majority of them are heretic,” and, “there is no noise as in Rome; cars rarely honk the horn, the traffic is regulated by the police.” (Researchers will have a chance to verify whether Marella’s commentaries still apply to today’s Rome!) [3]

Other interesting material has been found in the archives of the Capuchins. These contain information on the history of the American provinces from the mid-nineteenth century to the early decades of the twentieth century. Beyond the traditional requests for financial support or permissions to found new convents, the documentation offers an insight into the impact of the Capuchins’ activity among the American people. Of particular interest is a letter that, in 1917, James Malone, the Senator from Kansas, sent to Rome on the issue of the Capuchins’ whiskers. Malone recounted that the Capuchins were seldom recognized or invited to participate in the public functions of the communities. According to him, the only reason for this was their beards, because “the appendage on their face, which the people refer to as hairy entanglements, are repulsive to the American idea of appearance.”[4]

Given the impressive amount of material which is in Rome, I could offer many more examples in order to emphasize how the “Roman” perspective is an essential avenue for understanding the transnational dimension of American Catholicism. At present I am completing my research on the archives and, at the same time, I am drafting the descriptions of the depositories examined. We intend for this guide to simplify access for historians to the archives of Rome, which will hopefully enrich the challenging and stimulating field of American Catholic Studies. Beyond being a new research tool, this guide might be used as platform for developing new projects in other areas, periods, and themes in Catholic history, thus demonstrating the global dimension of the material which is preserved in the “Eternal City.”

[1] Pierre Hurtubise, Luca Codignola, and Fernand Harvey eds., L’Amérique du Nord française dans les archives religieuses de Rome, 1600-1922 (Québec: Les Éditions de l’IQRC, 1999).

[2] Letter of Captain Henry Seton to Bernard Smith, 17 July 1862, Suffolk, Archivio Storico di s. Paolo [thereafter ASSP], serie Monaci dell’Ottocento, shelf no. 27, palchetto c, Smith II, 1862-1876, not foliated nor paginated.

[3] Paolo Marella to ?, March 1922, ASSP, shelf no. 19, palchetto c, Miscellanea, “E’ pieno di Protestanti di ogni setta. Quando vedo i ragazzi per le strade mi fa pena il pensare che gran parte di essi sono eretici. Non c’è qui il chiasso di Roma: gli automobili non suonano la tromba che raramente: il traffico è regolato dai poliziotti.”

[4] Letter of John Malone, senator of Kansas, to the Capuchins’ Minister General, Herndon, Kansas, 16 August 1917, Archivio Generale dei Frati Minori Cappuccini, series G97, Provincia Pennsylvanica, Sectio XIII, not foliated nor paginated.

H-Net Book Review and MSUL Research Opportunties

Today’s guest post comes from Bobby Smiley, the Digital Scholarship and American History Librarian at the Michigan State University Libraries. Before joining the MSUL in November 2013, he was a library science and digital humanities graduate student at the Pratt Institute, where he also interned at Columbia working on the NYC Religion web archiving project. Previously, Bobby received his M.A. in Religion from Yale, where he studied with Kathryn Lofton, and researched changing historiographical trends in American Church/religious history using Sydney Ahlstrom’s lecture notes. His current research interests include finding ways to read algorithmically historiographical patterns at scale and over time, intersections between the popular and the religious, and exploring how digital humanities and academic librarianship can be usefully conjoined.

Bobby Smiley

After some time in abeyance, I am excited to announce the revival of the Book Reviews section for the H-Net network, H-AmRel. H-Net (Humanities & Social Sciences Online) is one of the earliest online communities for scholarly discussion, with manifold networks covering areas in the humanities and social sciences. Hosted at Michigan State University’s History Department, H-Net is best known for its numerous disciplinary listservs, as well as posting CFPs, job postings, and books reviews.

The H-AmRel Reviews network has been, to be charitable, pretty moribund in the past decade (last review added in 2004). Since becoming its new editor in April, I’ve been actively soliciting reviewers, and I’m about to post our first review (on Andrew Hartman’s A War for the Soul of America with several more in the hopper. However, I encourage and would welcome more reviewers to participate, especially, graduate students and faculty. If you’re interested in reviewing for H-AmRel Reviews, please send along a CV and writing sample (preferably of review length—1000–1200 words), and I’ll dispatch a list of our current inventory (I’m also happy to consider books not listed), and guidelines for reviews.

I’m incredibly keen on bringing new life to the H-AmRel Reviews, and think this opportunity could afford potential reviewers a chance not only to build up their library, but also to publish digitally in a peer-esteemed open access venue.

In my other capacity, as Digital Scholarship and American History Librarian at Michigan State (where I also work with David Stowe and Amy Derogatis on the religious soundmap project. I’m also excited to announce, as part of the MSU Libraries’s Humanities Data Collection, the release of (for free and public download) our dataset of 19th century American Sunday School Books. Derived from MSUL’s earlier Shaping the Values of Youth digital project, this dataset provides students and scholars interested in large-scale text analysis with a pre-cleaned corpus with which to work. Published between 1809 and 1887, the books in this corpus include 66 volumes from a variety of sectarian publishers. For anyone interested in topic modeling, text analytics, or experimenting with digital humanities techniques and tools, this dataset furnishes a subject relevant corpus readied for immediate analysis.

For H-AmRel book reviewing or questions about MSUL’s Humanities Data Collection, please feel free to contact me at bsmiley at msu.edu

Grant Announcement: The Historical Society of The Episcopal Church

Michael Utzinger

The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church invites applications from individual scholars and academic and ecclesiastical groups for grants to support significant research, conferences, and publications relating to the history of the Church of England, the worldwide Anglican Communion, and Anglican and Episcopal churches in North America.

Grants are usually modest, generally $1,000-$2,000, though more or less may be awarded depending on number of awards and amount of funds available in any year. Typical grants include travel to archives, collections or resources, dissertation research, and seed money for larger projects.

The deadline for submission is May 1, 2015.

Applications must include:

  1. A statement of the subject and purpose of the project of no more than 500 words;
  2. A bibliography or reference list of the project, no more than a single page;
  3. A concise curriculum vitae;
  4. A projected total budget for the project and specific amount requested (with detail of how it will be used).  If less than the total budget, it must be made clear how a grant would help and what other resources are available or being pursued;
  5. At least two letters of recommendation or support (in the case of a graduate student, we expect one will be from the project’s main supervising professor);
  6. A sample of recent scholarly writing (an article, essay, or chapter of no more than ten pages).

Submitting
To submit an application, send an email with all materials attached (PDF preferred) to hsec_a573@sendtodropbox.com. If total file size is over 5MB, you may send the files as separate emails. If one file is over 5MB, contact the Director of Operations (administration@hsec.us) for directions on how to submit.

Grant recipients are announced in July. It is expected recipients will make an appropriate submission to Anglican and Episcopal History.

A list of previous grantees can be found on the Society’s webpage: http://www.hsec.us/grants/

Amusing Archive Finds

Emily Suzanne Clark

How many times have you read something in the archives or in a primary source that made you smile, chuckle, or even lol? For some research topics, the answer might be never. But hopefully everyone finds topics for the classroom that allow us to think about funny things in American religious history.

This is on my mind because in both my courses last week, Religions in America and African American Religions, my students had primary source readings that made some of them (and me) chuckle. Last week in my African American Religions class, students read excerpts from the FBI’s files on the Moorish Science Temple from the 1930s and 1940s. These are a great read for students because they reveal so much about how outsiders saw the Moorish Science Temple, the politics of monitoring raced religions, and still the files describe some elements of the Moorish Science Temple. As a class we commiserated over our frustration at what’s blacked out in the declassified files. And the place of employment of one interviewee’s brother made us smile. The interviewee’s brother, who helped keep order at the meetings, worked in a “potato chip shop.” Something about the idea of a store that specializes in and sells potato chips makes me smile. No, not lol levels, but still some amusing archives. After the jump break I share what’s funny from my own current research—what I like to call seance snark.

My current research makes me laugh from time to time. I’m working on a group of Afro-creole men in New Orleans who practiced Spiritualism from just before the Civil War through the end of Reconstruction. Calling themselves the Cercle Harmonique, they received political, social, and religious guidance for the world of the dead. Lucky for me, they recorded the messages the spirits sent them. Sometimes the spirits were a bit cheeky. A certain Capuchin priest named Ambroise was a frequent spirit guide of the Cercle Harmonique. One day while delivering a message critical of the Catholic institution he formerly served, Ambroise lamented how the Catholic hierarchy “build splendid residences and Theaters … pardon, churches, at your expense.” Misspeaking, pausing, and then correcting himself, Ambroise called attention to the hypocrisy he saw. And since he delivered numerous messages that were critical of the Catholic hierarchy, he likely didn’t misspeak on accident but rather did so to draw a direct comparison between “Theaters” and opulence of Catholic church buildings.

Ambroise’s cheekiness was not alone. In particular the spirit of Claire Pollard, a Cercle Harmonique medium’s mother, proved that mom—in this world or in the spirit world—is concerned with the politeness and courtesy of her children. One day the Cercle Harmonique wrote down some rules for their seances. This would keep order and ease the cultivation of harmony between the Spiritualists and the spirits. One of these rules was punctuality. Despite the importance of arriving on time, someone must have arrived late to the next seance. The first message recorded underneath the rules came from one medium’s mother. She chastised the latecomer. “It is understood, my brothers,” Claire communicated, “that the belated ones, arriving after the lecture, would take their places at the table with respect and in deep meditation so as not to disturb the harmony already established …” One can assume that the tardy Spiritualist felt a bit of shame. On another occasion Claire told the group “listen to your mother.” My mom taught me to be polite, and my subjects’ mothers did too. And when they didn’t fulfill mom’s expectations, she called them out. There is something a bit comforting about that—even in death, mom is with you. I think there’s something a little funny here. Don’t ignore mom’s advice. She’ll still lecture you, even from beyond the grave.

What amusing things have you found in either archival research or in the readings you assign your students?

Bonus primary source entertainment! Last week in my Religions in America class, we looked at religion and health in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. They read an excerpt from Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s The Living Temple. In class we talked about the Battle Creek Sanitarium and discussed the reading. When asking them what Kellogg thought was a godly diet, we all had to chuckle a bit. Kellogg recommended grains, nuts, and fruits as the main 3 food groups. Vegetables were a far off fourth choice. “Lastly we may mention vegetables as part of the necessary food supply,” Kellogg wrote, “though it must be confessed that this class of foods is far less important than those previously mentioned.” What’s funny, we decided as a class, was that kids could argue that on a doctor’s order, they didn’t need to eat their vegetables.

Menopause as Crisis: Gender and the Spiritualist Body

Carol Faulkner

Andrew Jackson Davis, Clairvoyant Physician

As a young, and increasingly famous, clairvoyant, eighteen-year-old Andrew Jackson Davis learned how to heal. Though he had little formal education, he communicated with the ancient Greek physician Galen (d. circa 200 AD) while in a trance state. From Galen, Davis learned physiology, medicine, and how to treat diseases with a rod. Renouncing any economic motives, he decided to use his powers to help others, writing “I seemed to be a sort of a connecting link between the patient’s disease and its exact counterpart (or remedy) in the constitution of external Nature” (From The Magic Staff, p. 252). Indeed, Davis’s letters to his friend, follower, and benefactor, William Green Jr., in Yale University’s Manuscripts and Archives, are filled with medical advice. In many of the letters, Davis asks Green for money (on June 5, 1848, he assured Green, “If ever it is within my power to reciprocate benevolence and duty it will be done according to my predominating affection”), but he also prescribed homeopathic remedies and coached William’s wife Cornelia as she went through menopause, or what Davis called “the crisis.” To be clear, Cornelia’s health problems were much more serious than Davis realized. Did he take advantage of the Greens? Maybe. But his letters offer a tantalizing peak at Cornelia’s physical and emotional experience, albeit from a male perspective.

Historical experiences of menopause are hard to find. When suffragist Lucy Stone went through menopause at age 46, she was severely depressed, but such evidence about nineteenth-century women is rare.* Judith Houck’s book, Hot and Bothered: Women, Medicine, and Menopause in Modern America, examines the medicalization of menopause over the course of the twentieth century, including the adoption of hormone therapy, and the way women (particularly feminists) and their doctors redefined the physiological stage. At the end of the nineteenth century, however, doctors viewed menopause as having no “medical consequence.” When women did consult doctors about hot flashes and other symptoms, “Physicians generally treated these patients with education and reassurance, supplemented, perhaps, with prescriptions for bland food, sensible fashions (no corsets), and temperate living” (p. 5-6).  Yet in a society that valued women as wives and mothers, menopause raised questions about “the nature of women” and the “breadth of women’s roles” (p. 3).

Even as a supporter of women’s rights, Andrew Jackson Davis’s treatment of Cornelia Green was based on his belief in the biological and moral differences (harmonious ones) between women and men. Beginning in 1850, from his home in Hartford, Connecticut, Davis put himself in a trance state in order to examine Green in her home in Boonton, New Jersey. In a document titled “Mrs. Green’s Prescription,” Davis advised taking a mixture of cramp bark, valerian, sage, elecompane, squaw bine, brandy, and molasses by teaspoon six times a day. To improve her bowel function, he recommended sage and mint tea as well as a cold flax seed poultice. 

In another paper titled “Cornelia’s Physical Condition,” he attributed her problems to her stomach and “organs of reproduction” (surprise!). Davis advised rest, baths, and riding, but cautioned against long walks. By July 1851, Davis optimistically concluded that Cornelia’s “change of life” would resolve by the fall. Cornelia did not improve, and Davis suggested that William carry her into the hall twice a day for a change of scene. He also prescribed belladonna and iron. She died later that year.

In “Cornelia’s Physical Condition,” Davis wrote that her crisis was aggravated by “mental and spiritual disturbances.” Though Davis did not go into detail, he may have referred to the Greens’ tumultuous religious search that culminated in their embrace of Spiritualism. In the early 1830s, the Greens had been respectable middle-class evangelicals. William Green Jr. was a friend of the Tappan brothers and a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Cornelia Green was a member of the New York Female Moral Reform Society. By the end of the decade, they had severed these ties in favor of perfectionism.** In the 1840s, impressed with Davis’s clairvoyant ability, the Greens placed their spirits and bodies into his care. I have been unable to find any mention of a subsequent religious crisis, though Davis comments on Cornelia’s morbid concern for her adult children. While the Greens had made these religious choices together, Davis assumed they had been more “disturbing” to Cornelia. He connected her spiritual state with her gendered body. At the end of the document, he addressed the former: “Let us Love God and Be Happy.”

Andrew Jackson Davis diagnosed Cornelia’s illness as a result of a physiological change, compounded by spiritual anxiety about death and motherhood. Though she probably would have received the same tips–at least for her menopausal symptoms–from a trained physician, Davis may have been more sensitive to Cornelia’s mental state. I wish had some evidence of Cornelia’s perspective. Did she share her husband’s devotion to Andrew Jackson Davis? Did she know something else was wrong with her? Did she want to consult other medical or spiritual experts? After her death, Davis and William Green continued their friendship. Davis wrote Green with medical advice, especially for his bowels, and Davis made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Cornelia in the spirit world. After Green’s death, Davis sought new legitimacy for his medical skills, founding and enrolling in a short-lived, unaccredited medical college in New York City (discussed in his second memoir Beyond the Valley). Even without the respect of the medical profession, Davis viewed himself as a physician. And ultimately, like many nineteenth-century doctors, Davis saw menopause as another example of women’s emotional and physical delicacy. 

 * See Leslie Wheeler, Loving Warriors, p. 189. Stone’s physical and psychological response to menopause must have been strong, as even Elizabeth Cady Stanton (p. 257) commented on it.
**For discussion of the Greens see Anne Boylan’s essential The Origins of Women’s Activism, p. 45-46.

Rome in America: Reflections on the 2014 Rome Seminar

(Today’s post is by Cassandra L. Yacovazzi, who just this month defended her dissertation and received a Ph.D. in History from the University of Missouri — our congratulations to her! Cassandra joined 23 scholars (graduate students, professors, and archivists) in Rome from June 6-19, 2014, for the 2014 Rome Seminar, sponsored by the Cushwa Center as well as several other entities at the University of Notre Dame: Italian Studies, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Office of Research. The Cushwa Center, which already offers the Peter R. D’Agostino Research Travel Grant for research in Italian archives, plans to offer a Rome Seminar on a regular basis, and is currently developing a guide to Roman archives for scholars interested in American Catholicism.)

Participants in the 2014 Rome Seminar at the Salesian Archives
Cassandra L. Yacovazzi
I consider myself a historian of U.S. Catholicism (my research focuses on anti-Catholicism and anti-convent/nun sentiment in the U.S. in the first half of the nineteenth century). I’ve never thought of myself as a transatlantic historian, let alone a global historian. But my experience participating in the 2014 Rome Seminar impressed upon me the global reach of my subject. The seminar, entitled “American Catholicism in a World Made Small: Transnational Approaches to US Catholic History,” featured presentations by a series of prominent historians and visits to key archives in Rome.

The 2014 Rome Seminar Hard at Work

In the seminar’s opening talk, Simon Ditchfield from the University of York encouraged seminar participants to think of Rome not only as a place, but also a malleable concept, setting the tone for talks to follow. True to Ditchfield’s concept, I found that simply being in the “eternal city” overwhelmed me with a sense of the connectedness of Catholic history in time and place. For anti-Catholics in nineteenth century America, “Romanism” stood for decadence and decay; the city’s grandeur itself symbolized all that they feared and found fascinating about Catholicism. For Catholics, Rome symbolized institutional authority and Catholic triumph, offering a storehouse of relics of the most revered saints and a well-spring of missionary efforts, funding, and doctrine. Either way, Rome was in America. Walking through the Piazza San Pietro toward the Vatican, I thought about how decisions made there have shaped Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world for centuries. Participating in the Corpus Christi Mass at the Basilica of San Giovanni led by Pope Francis impressed upon me not only the historical importance of the moment but also of the past. Emperor Constantine erected the basilica as the first Christian church in Rome. Being there seemed to make real for me the concept of “a world made small.”

While all of the presentations offered a rich breadth of information, a snapshot of a few displays some of the innovative approaches to American Catholicism being undertaken by historians. Timothy Matovina’s presentation challenged a history of U.S. exceptionalism by assuming a hemispheric (rather than just U.S.) approach to American religion. John T. McGreevy provided an illuminating example of how global Catholic history can be done in a presentation on his current project on nineteenth century Jesuits in the U.S. Daniele Fiorentino, of the Università di Roma Tre, discussed the peculiar diplomatic relationship between the U.S., Italy, and the Vatican since 1870 — a political background which shaped interactions between Catholics and non-Catholics in America. And finally, Kathleen Cummings discussed her upcoming book Citizen Saints, describing how a transnational approach had informed her research on the process of canonizing “American saints.”

Transnational Material Culture!
Visiting seven Catholic archives throughout Rome, including the Vatican Secret Archives, provided overwhelming evidence of Catholicism’s global reach. Historians of American Catholicism, who have worked largely in American archives, might find the necessity of dealing with foreign archives inhibiting; demystifying Roman archives is a necessity for a transnational approach to Catholic history, however. We enjoyed going over useful vocabulary for navigating the Roman archives, such as “la fonte” (the source), “la cartella” (the folder), and “vorrei visitare l’archivo” (I would like to visit the archive). But while knowing these and other terms and phrases certainly is helpful, all the archivists that we met spoke English and were very approachable. Since I study the history of American women religious, of all our visits the one we made to the General Archives of the Society of the Sacred Heart and the Archive of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians interested me the most and helped me to consider the importance of the transnational and often global character of religious orders. The General Archives of the Society of the Sacred Heart houses biographies, letters, Constitutions, and Approbations for the order from the early nineteenth century to the present, from the motherhouse to provinces in the U.S. and all over the world; the Daughters of Mary have had a missionary presence in 94 countries, and their archives, too, testify to the global nature of Catholicism.
The 2014 Rome Seminar Hard at Work
Going back to my current home in Columbia, Missouri to work on my dissertation, made my Rome experience seem like a dream. Yet I haven’t been able to look at my work in quite the same way since. I’ve become more aware of depictions of the “Old World” in the anti-convent literature I examine. I’ve also become more sensitive to the relationship different women’s religious orders in America had with their motherhouses, which were often in Europe. I still need to explore these questions to give them justice in my project, which does of course, mean more work. But I’m intrigued by the new angles and intricate connections across cultural, national, and religious boundaries. And I hope that the exploration takes me back to Rome.

In Good Faith, a Collaborative Research Project of the ATLA: Results!

Emily Suzanne Clark

A while back I posted here about a collaborative research project overseen by the American Theological Library Association, the Catholic Library Association, and the Association of Jewish Librarians and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project, “In Good Faith: Collection Care, Preservation, and Access in Small Theological and Religious Studies Libraries” focused on the creation, distribution, and analysis of a survey focused on the care and preservation needs and challenges of small religious studies libraries. Our goal was to collect information from the librarians and archivists at small religious studies and theological libraries and get a sense of the collection care and preservation needs that were unique to these smaller institutions. I joked with the librarians and archivists that I worked with on the advisory board that I felt like the “token researcher,” particularly as they referred to library and archive jargon that went over my head or referenced abbreviations and groups they all knew and I didn’t. But I think my presence and participation in the project was important. I was able to represent the researchers who use the materials at these institutions.

The results of the survey we created are in, and the project’s research consultants have put together a great report of our analysis of the data. We discovered a lot of things – some alarming and many of interest to those of us who use the sources in these institutions. Many of these small religious studies and theological libraries and archives have low budgets and a surprising low number of employees (some without anyone full-time). Many of them don’t have disaster plans. Many of them don’t have online finding aids! So when we go hunting for documents, we have no way of knowing the rich treasure-trove of sources these places have. Part of the survey included a write-in area for them to list their most valuable and vulnerable holdings. And, dissertation and book project alert, they had some great stuff! Personal writings of Mother Katherine Drexel, meeting minutes from every kind of religious group you can imagine, families bibles dating to the 1700s, artwork, old Hebrew books brought over by immigrants in the 1800s, the personal effects of the founders and foundresses of religious orders, and newspapers, letters, diaries, and manuscripts galore. Researchers like you and me need to be able to find these sources. Additionally, many of them had holdings that had yet to be processed and cataloged. In other words, some of the libraries and archives didn’t even know what all they had!

In you want to know more, look at the survey results. Or sit in on the upcoming webinar that our project consultants have planned. Our next steps are providing resources to help these small institutions and develop ways to make their unique holdings known to researchers like us.

Rhetoric, Religion, and the Civil Rights Movement — 2 volumes now!

Paul Harvey

Scholars interested in religion and the civil rights movement need to be aware of a couple of primary source compilations. One is a nice 2-vol. book (vol II of which has just come out), and one consists of some newly digitized interviews that have been part of the Stanford Special Collections archive, now available online. Together they provide some of the best and most accessible material on this subject that we’ve ever had. (I would also mention the transcribed oral history collections from the University of Southern Mississippi –covering not just the civil rights movement but Katrina and numerous other topics. I’m not specifically highlighting those here because they’ve been around a bit longer and are more generally known among scholars).

Back in 2007, I reviewed the first volume of Davis Houck and David Dixon, Rhetoric, Religion, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965, a nearly 1000 page volume for which scholars should bow down and give thanks. Back then here’s what I wrote upon reading the volume (ok, quite a bit of the volume :) )

Rhetoric, Religion, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965DavisW. Houck and David E. Dixon, eds., Rhetoric, Religion, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965. Baylor, 2006.
That rhetoric and religion “have conspired to cocreate reality” may be a truism, and that rhetoric and religion co-conspired memorably and effectively in the civil rights movement (a basic thesis underlying this book) is no great surprise. Yet to see these standard statements played out in hundreds of pages of rich primary source material is a treat and an invaluable service to scholarship. Scholars Houck and Dixon have compiled a massive compendium, an embarrassment of riches, that fleshes out that relationship. Starting with the Moses Moon collection, consisting of some eighty hours of audio tape collected in the early and mid-1960s, the editors then scoured numerous other libraries and archives for sermons, speeches, impromptu addresses, and exhortations. The editors lay out the material chronologically, and give each selection detailed and informative introductions. Readers then may peruse at leisure, picking and choosing among the selections. The paradox remains that these selections were originally oral performances, and the printed page cannot capture the essence of those moments – just as those oral moments would not allow for the extended contemplation that having the addresses in printed form allows. Indispensable.  

Rhetoric, Religion, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965Since then, Houck and Dixon have put out volume two, a little shorter than but, if anything, even better than vol. I. Featured in this volume is an extended transcription of an off-the-cuff address by Dick Gregory; the speech by Ed King which followed the eulogy for murdered civil rights worker James Chaney by Dave Dennis, often seen as a key turning point for those who were coming to question non-violence as a philosophy; and a speech from the late 1950s by Martin Luther King, Jr., in which King pronounces his hope that white southern moderates will soon rise up, make their presence felt, and smooth the way to a more just South. Quite a contrast to his famous condemnation of those “moderates” in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” 
Besides tapping the Moses Moon collection, Houck and Dixon really combed archives through the country, and anyone who does a lot of archival travel and research knows how much time, energy, organization, and just plain persistence that takes. 
As it happened, I was fortunate enough this summer to have a short email correspondence with one of the editors, and in the dialogue he happened to mention this particular resource, which has just became available online: Guide to the KZSU Project South Interviews. Click on the link and you’ll find an astonishing resource for research: not just interviews with civil rights volunteers, although there are plenty of those, but also transcribed recordings of mass meetings and other impromptu speeches. Do you want to hear/read Fannie Lou Hamer upbraid southern preachers and talk about the religion she had found among the (often ostensibly irreligious or atheist) northern volunteers? Want to hear/read an impromptu debate at a mass meeting on whether blacks worshipped a God envisioned as white? And on and on. Here’s a brief description of the types of material here:

This collection contains transcribed meetings and interviews with Civil Rights workers in the South recorded by several Stanford students affiliated with the campus radio station KZSU during the summer of 1965. The project was sponsored by the Institute of American History at Stanford. The collection includes information relating to black history; interviews of members of the Congress of Racial Equality, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee; transcripts of formal and informal remarks of persons working with smaller, independent civil rights projects, of local blacks associated with the civil rights movement, and other people, including Ku Klux Klansmen; transcribed action tapes of civil rights workers canvassing voters, conducting freedom schools, or participating in demonstration; speeches by and/or interviews with Ralph David Abernathy, Charles Evers, James Farmer, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Hosea Williams; and a Ku Klux Klan meeting and speech made by Robert Sheldon, its Imperial Wizard.
Because the transcripts are PDF’ed and therefore keyword searchable, the researcher can zero in on topics that are of most interest (for me, it was discussions of religion, but many interviews range all over the place and researchers of virtually any topic related to the civil rights movement will find rich fodder here). Oh, also, right at the end there’s a transcribed speech by Robert Shelton of the Klan. 
Here’s a brief description from the site and how it came to be in the first place:

During the summer of 1965, eight students from Stanford University spent ten weeks in the southern states tape-recording information on the civil rights movement. The eight interviewers — Mary Kay Becker, Mark Dalrymple, Roger Dankert, Richard Gillam, James McRae, Penny Niland, Jon Roise, and Julie Wells — were sponsored by KZSU, Stanford’s student radio station, and their original intent was to gather material suitable for rebroadcasting in the form of radio programs. Much attention was focused on white civil rights workers, although a great deal of other documentation relevant to black history was also obtained: the interviewers visited over fifty civil rights projects in six states (see appendix) and secured three hundred and thirty hours of recordings, including over two hundred hours of personal interviews. In addition to interviewing members of various, well-known civil rights groups — the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC or `Snick’) — the student interviewers also recorded the formal and the informal remarks of those working with smaller, independent civil rights projects, of local blacks associated with the civil rights movement, and of many others including Ku Klux Klansmen and Southerners connected with the Sheriff’s Department of Clay County, Mississippi. The interviewers, in addition, spoke with many white volunteers who participated in Snick’s `Washington Lobby’ (aimed at unseating the all-white Mississippi Congressional Delegation) but who did not actually go south.
Several of the two-man interview teams recorded parts of the Jackson, Bougalusa, Greensboro, Crawfordsville, and West Point demonstrations, and also gathered various other action tapes of civil rights workers canvassing voters, conducting freedom schools, or participating in demonstrations. Finally, the interviewers recorded many mass meetings and gathered much material on the orientation sessions of MFDP in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and of SCLC in Atlanta, Georgia. All of these original tape recordings are now housed in the Library of Recorded Sound, Stanford, California. . . . . 
So you religion and civil rights historians, get busy, as we have been blessed with an abundance of material that is now so easily accessible, and full of research opportunities. 

Know Your Archive: National Archives at College Park

Michael Graziano

Today’s guest contributor is Michael Graziano, a Ph.D. Candidate at Florida State University. His dissertation explores the relationship between American religious institutions and U.S. intelligence services during the Cold War. You can find him on Twitter @grazmike.

I recently had the chance to spend an extended period of time working at the National Archives at College Park (or Archives II, as it is sometimes known). My experience was fantastic. I came away with oodles of quality material, and the archivists and support staff were wonderful. Yet, in talking with other ARH scholars about working at College Park, I’ve been surprised by how many assume it offers little beyond military or diplomatic records. While it certainly has those items, it also offers a great deal more. I thought that a post highlighting the strengths of the archive would be of use to those who may be considering a trip.

What’s the strength of College Park? Quite simply: if your topic involves the American state, they probably have a record of it. If you are researching anything that intersects with someone employed by the government or laws designed or enforced by the government, College Park has something for your project. The holdings are vast. One way to get a sense of what is available would be to scroll through the Archives’ blog, “The Text Message.” It provides a useful window into the types of records housed at different branches of the National Archives. To take one example, here’s an interesting post (illustrated with the actual documents) which offers a window into what is available in the records of the Office of the Chief of Chaplains.

For my own work at College Park, I had a few government agencies in particular that I was researching. Each sported a series of finding aids whose girth would put Ahlstrom to shame. For example, I worked a good bit with State Department records and was (delightfully!) overwhelmed with the quantity and scope of records available on-site, and on microfilm. Row upon row, cabinet upon cabinet, of microfilmed documents were readily available for my work. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say it gave me Raiders of the Lost Ark flashbacks.

The assumption that our projects are not relevant to the State Department because our topic is religion would unwittingly narrow our source base. For instance, College Park has files on every nation that the US has interacted with, administrative records and correspondence for consulates, embassies (think: missionaries receiving passports, visas, and the like to do their work abroad), and documents concerning internal affairs (public health initiatives, military records, transportation and commerce, just to name a few). If a project does intersect with the State Department—which I suspect is a lot more than we normally realize—here’s a to-do list that will keep you busy for a long time:

1. Consult the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

I learned at the recent SHAFR conference that the proper pronunciation of the acronym “FRUS” is the subject of heated debate among diplomatic historians (Is it FRUS as in “loose,” or FRUS as in “bus”?). However you choose to say it, FRUS is the published history of United States Foreign Relations produced by the State Department. It contains a variety of materials like memos, correspondence, and other records used behind the scenes. A copy of FRUS will be in a research university’s library and there is an online database courtesy of University of Wisconsin. Despite its breadth—beginning in 1861 and filling 450 volumes (and counting)—it’s only a fraction of what NARA has on file.

After consulting FRUS and finding something relevant to your interests—and important anecdotes for teaching with primary sources—the next step is to consult an archivist to see if NARA has more housed at College Park.

2. Write the archivists

As with any archive, the archivists are your best resource. For NARA, documents may move between various locations, be pulled for publication, be under review by Congress or the State Department, or be classified and unavailable to the public. Getting in touch with an archivist will help to determine whether a trip is necessary and, more importantly, if they currently have your materials on location. Pro tip: You should write approximately 4 weeks before you would want to visit. College Park archivists are in high demand, so be sure to plan in advance. (True story: While I was visiting, a researcher walked in and asked one of the archivists, “Do you have anything on FDR?” The archivist laughed, because he assumed the visitor was joking. The poor fellow was not joking.). In short, it is in your best interest to strategize lest you find yourself overwhelmed and having a poor research experience while you are there. (And in case you are wondering, College Park does have an item or two on FDR.)

3. Review the finding aids and online database

I know this is a no-brainer for seasoned historians, but this is especially crucial for researching at NARA because there is more than one location. Each facility has areas of specialty. College Park may not be the site that contains records pertinent to your interests. More importantly for historians without large budgets for research trips, many documents are contained on microfilm and available for purchase (though pricey at $125 each) or already in some university libraries (and perhaps accessible through interlibrary loan between universities).

Finally, as many of the recent blog posts on this site illustrate, attention to law and the state is picking up in studies of American religious history. Archives like the one housed at College Park will play an important role in helping us to produce good work on these topics, especially when we employ a little methodological creativity in tracking down information on “religion.”

Know Your Archives: The Next Generation of Mormon Studies

Today’s guest post is from Tom Simpson, who holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia. He teaches religion, ethics, and philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. His most recent published article is “The Death of Mormon Separatism in American Universities, 1877-1896″ (Religion and American Culture), and his forthcoming book is entitled Authority, Ambition, and the Mormon Mind: American Universities and the Evolution of Mormonism, 1867-1940.
 A little over a decade ago, as I was preparing for a doctoral exam in U.S. religious history, I started wrestling with some of the questions that have animated Mormon Studies for decades. Mainly, I wondered: after years of principled, costly resistance to federal authority, how could Mormons, seemingly overnight, embrace so many of the institutions and values of their tormentors?
The question lingered, and before long, I had decided to make a dissertation of it. It started in the stacks of my university library, thousands of miles from Utah, with Davis Bitton’s extraordinary Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies. That opened worlds, eventually leading me to a project that would captivate me for years.
My first sojourns in Utah introduced me to a wealth of material housed in the state, church, and university archives of Utah. With some critical financial support from Brigham Young University’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and (former) Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, I could work extensively in the archives with a team of expert archivists and scholars, who responded incredibly thoughtfully to my work and invited me to present my research in seminars and at major conferences. In the end, what has kept me coming back to the work, and coming back to Utah, has been the relationality of the work, the chance to do meaningful, collaborative historical research in state-of-the-art facilities. 

Still, too few non-Mormons (like myself) take advantage of the resources available. The recent establishment of positions in Mormon Studies at Utah St., Claremont, and the University of Virginia bodes well for the future of Mormon Studies, but the field still needs—and deserves—a larger and more diverse cast of characters. In a recent conversation, J. Spencer Fluhman—associate professor of history at BYU and the author of A Peculiar People: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America – told me that this is indeed “a golden age at the LDS archives….It’s a good time to be interested in Mormon history.” Here’s hoping that the field’s real promise is realized in the decades to come.

The major LDS archives in Utah are housed in the LDS Church History Library, the Utah State Historical Society, and the special collections departments of Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and Utah State University. All photographs by the author.        

Teaching Religion in the History of U.S. Sexuality

By Monica L. Mercado

Teaching in the archives. Photograph by Dan Dry,
courtesy of the University of Chicago Magazine.

While those of you on semesters are nearly wading into midterms, tomorrow is the first day of classes on the quarter system here at the University of Chicago. I’ll be teaching one class this term for the University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, “Sex and Sexualities in Modern U.S. History.” Ten weeks is not a lot of time for a discussion-based survey course, which is why I decided to focus primarily on the twentieth century. We have a lot to cover, but when designing the syllabus, I knew I wanted to make sure that my students gain a more nuanced understanding of how American religious discourses have influenced popular beliefs and cultural practices toward sex, and driven some of the official or governing discourses around sexuality. [If you're curious, you can read my entire syllabus online, here.]

So where are the sources?

Given the constraints of time and space — it’s important to me that undergraduates gain experience in archival research, so I’ll be teaching in Chicago’s Special Collections Research Center, which gives us access to important collections including those of Chicago sociologist Ernest Burgess and the papers of ACT UP Chicago – I’ve pulled just a few of my favorite readings for considering religion in the recent history of American sexuality:

  • Leslie Tentler’s 2004 Commonweal article, “A Bitter Pill,” an introduction to her research for Catholics and Contraception: An American History (we’ll also be screening PBS’s American Experience documentary, “The Pill,” which does an admirable job of addressing the religious issues involved, with Tentler providing some of the commentary); and
The Bible and Dr. Kinsey pamphlet (1953),
via The Kinsey Institute 

    Of course, we’re not simply limited to print sources. My colleague Derek Attig, teaching History of Sexuality in the U.S. this fall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, boldly threw down the gauntlet during his first class with Madonna’s 1989 video for “Like a Prayer.” And speaking of video, film, and American Catholics, how could we leave out the Motion Picture Code?

    Closer to home, the University of Chicago’s current oral history project, Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles, which I’m helping to coordinate, has begun to document links between liberal religion and social activism on campus in the stories of LGBTQ individuals and communities since the era of Gay Lib. Recent alumni interviews have led us to moments when the University’s gay and lesbian association was directed by a core of graduate students from the University’s Divinity School; during the 1980s Brent House, the Episcopal campus ministry, opened their building to the group’s work. The archive of interviews won’t be available to outside researchers until 2015, but my students will have the opportunity to work with the oral histories this fall.

    All of this is to say that I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface–religion is, after all, just one of the themes I hope to cover in this survey course. There have been some great posts on the blog over the last few months considering religion and sexuality, and it’s a conversation I’m glad to see picking up steam.

    This is also a good place to mention that it’s not too late to respond to the CFP for “Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the 20th Century U.S.,” to be edited by Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather White [full CFP here], so if you have a topic in mind, do consider submitting a proposal for what promises to be a great collection. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite primary and secondary sources for teaching religion in the history of U.S. sexuality? My students and I are all ears.

    Teaching Religion in the History of U.S. Sexuality

    By Monica L. Mercado

    Teaching in the archives. Photograph by Dan Dry,
    courtesy of the University of Chicago Magazine.

    While those of you on semesters are nearly wading into midterms, tomorrow is the first day of classes on the quarter system here at the University of Chicago. I’ll be teaching one class this term for the University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, “Sex and Sexualities in Modern U.S. History.” Ten weeks is not a lot of time for a discussion-based survey course, which is why I decided to focus primarily on the twentieth century. We have a lot to cover, but when designing the syllabus, I knew I wanted to make sure that my students gain a more nuanced understanding of how American religious discourses have influenced popular beliefs and cultural practices toward sex, and driven some of the official or governing discourses around sexuality. [If you're curious, you can read my entire syllabus online, here.]

    So where are the sources?

    Given the constraints of time and space — it’s important to me that undergraduates gain experience in archival research, so I’ll be teaching in Chicago’s Special Collections Research Center, which gives us access to important collections including those of Chicago sociologist Ernest Burgess and the papers of ACT UP Chicago – I’ve pulled just a few of my favorite readings for considering religion in the recent history of American sexuality:

    • Leslie Tentler’s 2004 Commonweal article, “A Bitter Pill,” an introduction to her research for Catholics and Contraception: An American History (we’ll also be screening PBS’s American Experience documentary, “The Pill,” which does an admirable job of addressing the religious issues involved, with Tentler providing some of the commentary); and
    The Bible and Dr. Kinsey pamphlet (1953),
    via The Kinsey Institute 

      Of course, we’re not simply limited to print sources. My colleague Derek Attig, teaching History of Sexuality in the U.S. this fall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, boldly threw down the gauntlet during his first class with Madonna’s 1989 video for “Like a Prayer.” And speaking of video, film, and American Catholics, how could we leave out the Motion Picture Code?

      Closer to home, the University of Chicago’s current oral history project, Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles, which I’m helping to coordinate, has begun to document links between liberal religion and social activism on campus in the stories of LGBTQ individuals and communities since the era of Gay Lib. Recent alumni interviews have led us to moments when the University’s gay and lesbian association was directed by a core of graduate students from the University’s Divinity School; during the 1980s Brent House, the Episcopal campus ministry, opened their building to the group’s work. The archive of interviews won’t be available to outside researchers until 2015, but my students will have the opportunity to work with the oral histories this fall.

      All of this is to say that I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface–religion is, after all, just one of the themes I hope to cover in this survey course. There have been some great posts on the blog over the last few months considering religion and sexuality, and it’s a conversation I’m glad to see picking up steam.

      This is also a good place to mention that it’s not too late to respond to the CFP for “Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the 20th Century U.S.,” to be edited by Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather White [full CFP here], so if you have a topic in mind, do consider submitting a proposal for what promises to be a great collection. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite primary and secondary sources for teaching religion in the history of U.S. sexuality? My students and I are all ears.

      Know Your Archives: Learning to Read in Bethlehem

      Today’s guest post comes from David Komline, a doctoral candidate at the University of Notre Dame.  His dissertation, “The Common School Awakening: Education, Religion, and Reform in Transatlantic Perspective, 1800-1848,” examines the religious influences behind a movement for state-sponsored schools that stretched from Germany, through France and Britain, to America.  His base for the 2013-2014 academic year will be the University of Heidelberg.  

      David Komline

      After finishing my master’s degree and before beginning doctoral work I studied for a year at the University of Tübingen in Germany, where I spent many hours in the library, pouring over old newspapers and journals.  When I began, even making sense of printed German was a challenge.  But by the end of the year my language abilities had improved, so I decided to examine some manuscript sources.  I still remember my first visit to an archive in Germany.  I sat down before a folder of letters, looked at the first sheet, tried to decipher a few lines, and was baffled.  I moved to the next document.  Again, I understood almost nothing.  The third letter produced the same bewilderment.  Only after flipping almost to the end of the folder did I finally lay eyes on something that looked intelligible.  I paused, reading it through effortlessly.  After a little detective work I realized the crucial difference.  The author of this letter was an Englishman and had composed his German letter in a Latin script resembling the handwriting used by English speakers today, and by Germans who went through grade school after the 1940s.  The rest of the letters, written in the script used by Germans until then, remained illegible to me.  The style of cursive handwriting in the letter, and not the letter’s language, had prevented me from deciphering it.

      To avoid this predicament when I return to Germany in September, I enrolled this summer in a two-week German script course at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Instruction began with the alphabet.  Along the way we learned how to write, even practicing with quill pens.  By the end, classes ran as I would imagine a doctoral seminar in medieval paleography would.  Sixteen students gathered around tables in a large rectangular formation, heads bent over high-quality reproductions of manuscripts, ably deciphering them under the guidance of two teachers.  Participants came from diverse backgrounds: an undergraduate exploring a German major; a nurse interested in genealogy; several graduate students, librarians, and professors.  Four of the academics were Americanists of some kind, five of them focused on religion, and two were beginning projects on the Moravians.

      In fact, learning more about the Moravians proved to be one of the most engaging aspects of the course.  All the documents we read came directly from the local archival holdings; most concerned Moravians and their various activities.  We also toured historic Bethlehem and Nazareth, where the Moravian Historical Society runs a museum in a house originally built for George Whitefield.  Seeing where the brothers and sisters lived and worshipped made the texts we read in class come alive.  Thus the course both trained students to use a new research tool and presented opportunities to apply that tool from day one.  Learning to read German script as a part of this course was never a merely theoretical exercise; it was always based in the study of an actual historical literary culture, that of the Moravians.

      Bethlehem Diary, September 1877

      The Moravians have recently received significant scholarly attention, from Aaron Spencer Fogleman’s provocative Jesus Is Female, which explores opposition to the Moravians during the Great Awakening, to Craig Atwood’s probing Community of the Cross, which connects the piety of early Moravians in Bethlehem with that of their spiritual father, Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf.  Some of these authors are affiliated with the Moravians, but not all of them are.  This broader interest corresponds with a trend across the humanities toward work on transnational subjects.  Especially in American history, the tide of transatlantic topics appears to be on the rise.  But as I discovered on my first trip to Germany, doing this research well requires both wading in the waters of printed literature and surfing the waves of manuscript sources.  For people interested in learning to surf, I highly recommend this course.  America boasts no better training ground in this skill than Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, whose mighty Lehigh River once attracted a band of German pietists seeking an outpost across the ocean from their native home.

      (I would like to thank the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame for providing a Kate Murphy McMahon Grant to help defray the costs of my participation in this course.)

      Know Your Archives: Archdiocese of New York Edition

      This afternoon’s post comes from our newest contributor, Monica L. Mercado, who is currently finishing her Ph.D. in the Department of History at the University of Chicago. You can find more details about her research and teaching interests in women’s and gender history at monicalmercado.com.

      Monica L. Mercado

      Regular readers of this blog might remember that I’m spending much of the summer in New York State, hunting down the women (and men) of the Catholic Summer School of America while finishing the draft of my dissertation project, “Women and the Word: Gender, Print, and Catholic Identity in Nineteenth-Century America.” But my plans to take a road trip north to the Catholic Summer School’s former site on Lake Champlain came to a screeching halt last month when I decided to change direction and head downstate to investigate the Archives of the Archdiocese of New York, housed at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers (aka Dunwoodie). The Archdiocesan Archives re-opened its doors to scholars earlier this year and to put it mildly, it’s kind of a big deal.

      The last time American Catholic archives were featured on this blog, Michael Pasquier dissuaded us of the notion that every researcher has to have a “horror story” full of barriers to special collections access. Certainly, I’ve had terrific experiences at Catholic archives big and small, but like a number of my colleagues, there was one nut I couldn’t crack: the New York Archdiocese, home to so many of the individuals and communities in my study. I knew not to take it personally; even Robert Orsi had trouble making headway. In the Introduction to the Second Edition of The Madonna of 115th Street, Orsi recalled:

      I encountered, as everyone studying New York Catholic history necessarily had to in those days, the much-feared gatekeeper of the city’s archdiocesan archives, a nun who clearly understood it to be her job never to let anyone see the documents in her care. To this end she set impossible tasks for scholars. “I need the exact folder number of the document you wish to see,” she told me the first time I contacted her, but there was no register or catalogue that I could ever discover. The forty days of Jesus’ sojourn in the desert became the interval of our conversations. “It’s Advent,” she said; “call me after Christmas.” “It’s Lent–get back to me after Easter.” Sacred seasons followed one another like the leaves of a calendar in an old movie.

      So imagine my surprise one afternoon this spring, after nearly two years of silence in response to my emails and calls, when I noticed the Archdiocesan Archives posting images on Facebook and Twitter. In a matter of minutes, I received a friendly tweet encouraging me to make contact. Soon I had confirmation from archival manager Kate Feighery that the keywords I emailed her showed up in a handful of finding aids, and we made arrangements for my visit.

      “You’re probably the first person to use these boxes in twenty years,” Kate said as she handed me a stack of materials. Over four days, I worked my way through the papers of Archbishops Hughes, Corrigan, and Farley, quickly finding what I needed thanks to some of the most detailed item-level finding aids I’ve ever seen (meticulously organized by the Archives’ previous gatekeeper). Parish history files helped me flesh out some of the people and organizations I’d only come across in magazines and newspapers; a brief foray into the Archives’ complete bound run of The Catholic News and its successor, Catholic New York, reminded me of the ways in which the Church influenced every aspect of the lives of its faithful.

      At the helm of this renewed operation is Father Michael Morris, charged by New York’s Cardinal Dolan in late 2011 to make the Archdiocesan collections accessible to scholars. (Dolan, who holds a PhD in American Church History, has taken a special interest in the fate of the Archives.) Father Morris gave me a tour of the Archives’ new building, a bright, modern space that will accommodate processing, storage, exhibition, and research needs. In addition to overseeing the logistics of moving the Archives into their new building, Kate is hard at work processing smaller collections, rehousing older materials, and making plans to digitize the photo collections. The move should be completed by the end of this year, but in the meantime I’d suggest packing your longest power cord–outlets are few and far-between in the temporary reading room. Just for kicks, I ended my research trip peeking at a few of the Archives’ hidden treasures: boxes of vestments in every color of the rainbow, a closet full of nineteenth-century anti-Catholic books, and Dorothy Day’s typewriter.

      If you study the history of American Catholicism, you’ll probably want to start planning a trip to Dunwoodie. The Archives’ new website outlines policies for qualified researchers, and Kate continues to build its presence on Facebook and Twitter. It’s safe to say that as I toured the various storage rooms, I saw more than enough future projects to keep you (and me!) busy for a very long time.

      Secularists All!, or, Writing Religion and Diplomacy after Preston

      Mark Edwards
      Andrew Preston’s Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith (Anchor, 2012)  is a monumental achievement in the field of religion and politics—testified to by its winning of Canada’s Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction.  A significant accomplishment for a country with (WARNING: 30 Rock reference, not author’s opinion) only 700 words in their dictionary.   In many ways, Swordrepresents the capstone on if not completion of the “religious turn” in Diplomatic History.  For several years now, Preston has been leading a number of scholars trying to convince historians of foreign relations (SHAFR) that faith matters (see Cara Burnidge’s important recent post on religion and SHAFR here).  Swordis so successful at tracking religious presence in U. S. foreign policy traditions that it is forcing me to ask a different question: Why is there so much secularism in the diplomatic discourse of the American Century?
      I’m planning on taking up that question in my second (or maybe third, or maybe never) book on the worlds made and remade by Francis and Helen Hill Miller.  As the chairman of the World’s Student Christian Federation (WSCF) and one of the architects of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Miller was a centerpiece of my first book on the politics of ecumenical Protestantism.  He was especially significant in imagining, during the 1930s, the rise of a “World Christian Community” which could stand against the unholy trinity of secularism, corporate capitalism, and hyper-nationalism (totalitarianism).  I am now interested in Miller and his wife (a University of Chicago-trained political scientist and international relations theorist) as agents of secularization, notably in their roles as interpreters of post-WWI global American power.

      This new project is less concerned with the Millers themselves than it is about their many “worlds.”  One meaning of “worlds” is the multitude of religious and secular institutions they inhabited.  Arguably the most important was the Council on Foreign Relations.  It should not be surprising that students of religion have ignored the Council, since it has historically had little patience for god-talk.  In fact, one of the apparent purposes for founding the Council was to move diplomacy away from reliance on religious typologies of “Christian” versus “heathen” nations.  Members rather looked to science, and empirical research, as a foundation for what Robert Schulzinger has termed the Council’s “realistic Wilsonianism.”  Of course, faith in scientific over providential knowledge was simply one dimension of the “anarchy” (Amy Kaplan) of the Council’s vision: Science itself was in the service of members’ gendered worldview—their search for “tough-minded” policies to supplant the failed “soft” Wilsonian settlement.  And yet the Council’s self-prophesying secularism was sustained, and even carried forward, by devout Protestant internationalists like Miller and several more mainline church leaders.  The irony of Christian Americans aiding and abetting the secularization of U.S. diplomacy peaked in the publication of Henry Luce’s American Century” article in 1941—a statement remarkable for its godlessness, given that it was penned by a missionary kid.  (Consider, by way of contrast, Henry Wallace’s rejoinder to Luce, “The Century of the Common Man” (1943), which was littered with Christian apocalyptic speech.)

      One final admission: While Francis insisted to his dying day that democracy was impossible apart from a Christian moral foundation, there was a corresponding relationship for him and Helen between secularization and democratization.  Put more simply, the Millers were passionate advocates for participatory democracy.  Helen (a disciple of Jane Addams) wrote pamphlets on participatory democratic methods for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration.  In 1938, Francis was put in charge of the Council’s experiment in local foreign policy debate clubs.  Eventually, Miller would make participatory democratization a cornerstone of his campaigns of Governor and Senator in Cold War Virginia.
      I’ll be in Princeton at the Mudd Library this August studying Miller’s clubs and many other dimensions of the CFR archives.  After eating too many gyros in the evenings, I’m hoping to read further into secularization theory—starting with John Modern’s “metaphysics of secularism.”  This new direction is admittedly indebted to arguments made some time ago by my graduate advisor Susan Curtis, although Christian Smith’s “Secular Revolution” is also currently written all over it.  As I begin to compile a “to read” list, I thought I’d ask RIAH readers: What secular-ism/ization theory(ist) can’t you live without?

      Chasing Widows

      Today’s guest post is by Jim Lutzweiler, an archivist at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  In the post, he shares some stories about chasing widows in order to obtain collections, as well as some of the exciting holdings at the seminary.  I met Jim at the AP Grading, and have gotten to know him by running the camera for some oral history interviews in Chicago.  I can guarantee that if you do research at this archive, you’ll hear some great stories if Jim is not off chasing widows.  Jim can be reached at jlutzweiler@sebts.edu.

      My boys call me a widow chaser.  It’s true and it’s fun.  And sometimes I catch them and sometimes I don’t.


      I assume my meaning is clear to anyone reading about the archive business.  But in case this moniker eludes a quick grasp, let me explain:  I try to preserve the papers of men (or women, but mostly men) who have made some contribution to American religious history.  Sometimes I get to their widows before they toss them, and sometimes I don’t.  More often it is the former, but sometimes the latter.

      In re: the latter, I remember well and with no little archival pain a widow I was chasing because a friend suggested that I go easy on her husband before she became a widow.  My job hazard is giving off the ambience of a buzzard circling the still warm –but not very warm– bodies of Baptist preachers and educators who have over their careers accumulated somewhat of a literary legacy. I followed my friend’s advice (after all, he had suggested the name to me), and the next thing you know the subject in question, a former seminary president, was dead.  And the next thing you know after that, his papers, like him, were toast.  Why? Because his admiring widow woke up every day and stared at his two four-drawer file cabinets full of his life’s work and began to miss him so much that she tossed them to kill the pain!  Since her son was a seminary president also, it never occurred to me that I should have just risked the buzzard paradigm.
      Such losses are certainly the exception to the rule, though it is also true that some widows have been rumored to have burned their husband’s papers –and not because they missed their spouses.  I can think of one in northern Indiana, though her mate (also a seminary president) was not a Baptist.  And that is all the clue I am giving, as I am still working hard to forgive this lass, even posthumously.
      A delightful alternative to this historical mindlessness is a widow I met in a very large (that’s a hint) southern state several years ago. For a year or so I had been chasing her husband, only to discover that he was dead and that he had been dead for some time.  It so happened that the brother of the deceased had once been the owner of the Minnesota Vikings.  And before that, he had owned the Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs –yes, the same Spurs who are playing this very week that I write.
      Because of this connection, I managed to land an interview with the owner in question.  He had grown up in the First Baptist Church of Spur, Texas, after which town’s name many thought he had named his basketball team but which he had not.  When I called his office, I asked his secretary if he would permit me to interview him about Texas Baptist history.  This was not the sort of request that he received everyday; and at 4:30 that very same day, I was in his office with my camcorder for a 1.5 hour interview.  That was a wonderful occasion, and the interview is in the archives of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where I serve as the Archivist. The NFL owner in question is Red McCombs, and the rest is some delightful history which any researcher of faith or football is welcome to come to our seminary to see.
      It turned out that Mary McCombs, the widow of Red’s brother, Gene, was still living in San Antonio.  Before long I made my way over to her house and did an oral history with her –and not only with her but with her son, Terrell.  And before much longer, Mary donated to our archives some of Gene’s books and also a collection of letters between her husband and his dear friend, Mack Cole, out in Fort Smith, Montana, not far from the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Those letters are now part of our archives.  And now we know a lot more about Mary’s husband, Gene, who was the original object of my pursuit.
      Time and space fail me to condense the substance of what we now know about Rev. Gene McCombs.  But one story will suffice to whet any normal researcher’s appetite.  The story in its entirety is on the DVD interview with Gene’s brother.  Red tells the story therein about when his brother was young and felt a call to the ministry.  He said everyone tried to talk him out of it, even his pastor.  That by itself is almost unprecedented in American religious history.  Just imagine, if you can, a Texas Baptist preacher trying to talk a teenager out of a call to preach.  I personally have never heard of such a thing, even though I have heard some preach to whom that advice might well have been given.
      Gene’s sense of calling certainly seems justified, if one takes into consideration that he ended his long career as an associate preaching pastor of the nationally known television personality, Adrian Rogers, of the Bellevue Baptist Church (a church Elvis Presley used to sneak into late and leave early) in Memphis, Tennessee.  But things did not begin that auspiciously for Gene.
      According to Red, a mutual friend of his and Gene’s came to him one day when Gene was in seminary.  The friend told Red that Gene was living close to poverty in order to chase his dream, the call to ministry he had heard.  He told Red that Gene didn’t have much food in the refrigerator and that for income he was mowing lawns with a borrowed mower.  Though he is a billionaire today, Red was not a billionaire then.  But he made his way up to Dallas and saw firsthand that what his friend had told him was true.  On camera, Red said that they both got down on their knees (most NFL owners only do that on Super Bowl Sunday), and there in prayer he told the Lord that Gene would live as he lived.  Thereafter, Gene did.
      Red’s support of his brother was not without its problems, as Gene mostly pastored small churches, but he always owned a new car, a new house, and took trips to Europe.  This is one of my favorite “brother” stories of all time, as is one Mack Cole (to whom Red directed me for more Texas Baptist history) told in a sermon he sent me (a copy of which is in our archives).  It’s a story that makes a trip over here to Wake Forest and our archives more than simply worthwhile.  We have passion here as well as papers.  I have already written up this story elsewhere, and would be happy to email a copy of it to anyone interested enough to send me a request at jlutzweiler@sebts.edu.
      In addition to some papers of Gene McCombs and three oral histories with his family members, the archives at Southeastern is full of many other Gospel goodies. A main focus of our collection strategy is the papers and oral histories of participants in what is known by its friends as the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention and by its enemies as the “Takeover” –as in unbiblical theft– of the Southern Baptist Convention.
      One of the leading collections in this connection is that of Texas Judge Paul Pressler, co-architect with Paige Patterson of the Conservative Resurgence.  Pressler, characterized by a sloppy historian from Wake Forest University as a newcomer-sort-of-young-Turk to the SBC, is actually an eighty year-old descendant of one of the original founders of the SBC and a continuous host of Southern Baptist relatives who followed that founder from 1845 right down the trail to the Judge.
      Not all of the collections in the archives are of Baptists.  One recent addition to our holdings is the papers of the Lutheran scholar, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery.  Montgomery is best remembered today for his debates with atheist Madeline Murray O’Hair and near atheist Bishop Pike.  Another addition is the papers of the evangelical thunderbolt Francis Schaeffer, a Presbyterian.
      And not all of the collections in our archives are of Baptists sympathetic to the SBC of which Southeastern Baptist Seminary is an agency.  Some collections or individual pieces are from persons militantly opposed to the SBC.  The overall collection policy I have implemented is one taught to me by the late Methodist Governor, Senator, and Duke University President, Terry Sanford.  In reference to the Richard Nixon Library, over which Sanford’s History Department fought him tooth and nail not to accept, Sanford told me in an oral history, “I would take the archives of the Devil, if the Devil would give them to me.”  So would I.

       

      From Manuscript to Metadata

      Delighted to welcome back here for a guest post Kate Carté Engel, Professor of Early American History at Southern Methodist University, and author of Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America, which we covered previously on the blog.

      From Manuscript to Metadata
      Kate Carté Engel
      As an early Americanist, I love the periodic “know your archives” (and see also here) series that appears here, and I love the physicality and intimacy of working with centuries-old manuscripts.  Last month I spent a lovely week at Lambeth Palace Library in London, a place that met all my early modernist expectations of an archive:  quiet room, pleasant staff, antiquated finding aides that don’t quite match either the online catalogue or the actual documents, and incredible manuscripts.  To top things off, there is a fabulous coffee stand just across the street, overlooking the river.  My favorite part of the place, however, was passing through an incredibly charming door set in an old wall, through which one entered a courtyard surrounded by the ancient seat of the Archbishops of Canterbury.  A colleague asked if I ran into Archbishop Laud while I was there, but since I’m working on international Protestantism and the American Revolution, I was searching for Thomas Secker and Frederick Cornwallis.  Secker thoughtfully left exactly the document I was looking for, and I went home happy.
      All of that was very calming.  The head spinning part started the following week, when I arrived at the University of Victoria’s annual Digital History Summer Institute.  I confess to loving new computer tools, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the period posts here by folk like Michael Pasquier, Michael Altman and Chris Cantwell on the developing world of DH.  So, I was primed and ready to learn new ways to handle the thousands of digital images and hundreds of pages of notes I’ve been accumulating in the archive.  Now, after a week of classes, colloquia, and un-conference sessions, I’m frankly awed by the staggering ways that humanists are using technology: data visualizations, complex digital editions, mapping of all kinds of things
      On an aesthetic level alone, these efforts bring the beauty, playfulness and art of the humanities into a shared space in a way that seems genuinely to complement the solitary intellectual pleasure of finding the perfect document in the archive.  What if I could post on this site a visualization of that perfect text Secker left for me?  What if I could visually render the intertwining threads of his concern for international Protestantism as a concept, for foreign Protestants as residents within his nation, and his difficulty understanding why the American colonists were so upset about the prospect of a bishop? What really appeals to me about this idea is that these tools offer the prospect of accessible and companionable scholarship, not unlike the maps of language differentiation by region that have been spreading around facebook in the past few weeks.  The work is still single-authored, still ultimately manifested in long-form prose and with nuanced argument, but at the same time it can be shared in an accessible form, with those might like to have a gander just for the sake of the aesthetic and intellectual pleasure.
      The most thought-provoking part of DHSI for me (as opposed to the most aggravating, which was most certainly my inability to export my bouncing baby MySQL database out of my mac’s command structure and into the regular folder structure.  Curse you – access denied error!) was a presentation on the ChartEx project.  Scholars from five countries are digitizing and analyzing thousands of medieval deeds.  In the process they are mapping a long-past spatial world that can only be understood relationally, because medieval boundary lines — trees, buildings — are not easy to plot on even a fantasy version of Google-earth.  At the same time they are tracing out the human relationships that bound that world together.  This project required its authors to engage in a collective ontological shift in the way deeds have been understood for centuries.  The end product then is not the database, but the scholarship that will result from it, which will be based on both fresh questions and fresh data.  The key here is that this kind of collaborative engagement, engagement between diverse scholars and computer data-management tools that can turn medieval deeds into “big data,” can prompt humanistic questions that would never otherwise be asked.
      I hope (and assume) that historians will not lose sight of the joys of long hours spent in an archive, often somewhere near the place where those documents were produced or received.  Metadata can record that an author’s quill was running dry or fracturing at a certain part of the document, and a digital image can render that fact in full color, but holding the page still matters to me.  I believe the slow process of reading in the archive builds empathy for our historical subjects.  On the other hand, the excitement of the digital humanities community, especially in the opportunities it offers to work collaboratively with other people who love the same sources, is infectious.  (This blog is certainly proof of that.)  Moreover, the work done by projects like the Dissenting Academies Online Project and the Clergy of the Church of England effort have been hugely helpful to me.  I’m sure we’ve all used data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and enjoyed the thoughtful essays on frequencies.  Yet I have to confess ignorance to much of what is going on in the world of digital history of American religion. So please consider this a plea for one and all to promote their favorite project, whether it has a public access point or not.  Meanwhile, I’ll be getting ready for my next research trip, to Halifax in Nova Scotia.  If any one has good coffee or restaurant recommendations, please send them my way too.

      Know Your Archives: American Antiquarian Society Edition

      By Jonathan Den Hartog

      Those readers who have followed this blog for a while know of a regular feature called “Know Your Archives.” I did a quick search and discovered that one of these posts had not yet been devoted to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. If I missed it, please let me know–and link it in the comments.

      I’m spending June at the AAS, so I’m not thinking about too many other academic topics beyond getting into the archive and working hard daily. (Now, thinking about other things, like moving my family halfway across the continent, yes. But that would be a different post.) As a result, I thought it would be great to connect the AAS with resources for studying American Religion.

      And, perhaps it’s obvious to make the point, but there are great resources here. The AAS has dedicated itself to collecting material up to 1876, and they’ve been at it for 200 years.

      The AAS likes to welcome people “under its generous dome.”

      Not a bad front entry.

      Researchers are surrounded by striking physical remnants of religion in America. The famous portrait of John Winthrop–yes, that portrait–hangs over the Reading Room Desk. There are also several generations of Mather family portraits hanging nearby.  In addition to holding a huge collection of the Mather Family Library, the AAS holds other Matheriana. On this front, my favorite artifact was the Mather Family High Chair, which may have been used by Increase but definitely was used by Cotton. (Here, my imagination wandered, to seeing young Cotton in the high chair. I assume he still has a very large powdered whig on. In asking for milk, his verbosity and prolixity begins early…”Mother, whereas milk is good (just like salt is good), and whereas I trust in your benevolence to your children, wouldst thou kindly fill my pr’offered goblet with some of ye yonder milk? [continuing for several more paragraphs].”)

      In addition to the Mathers, the rest of the collection is really outstanding. I’m spending the month looking for connections between the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, and the Caribbean in response to (and in  rejection of) the French Revolution. Of this attitude, religion was a key part, since the Jacobins in France had pushed forward a process of de-christianization and since Tom Paine was associated with the Revolution (as he advocated for both The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason).

      Understanding these connections has required thinking about a lot of different genres–books, pamphlets, newspapers, music, and personal correspondence. In every case, the curators have been great to work with, often finding other material that is related to the topic but not what I had ordered up.

      Because of these great genre collections, the AAS would be ideal to research religion from whatever methodological strategy you chose, from lived religion to high theology.

      Browsing one shelf in the reading room, I came across several great bibliographies, all which pointed into the AAS’s Collections. For instance, the Society has a collection of Adventist and Anti-Adventist publications. Even more impressive, I stumbled on an AAS Publication: Gaylord Albaugh’s History and Annotated Bibliography of American Religious Periodicals and Newspapers, Established from 1730 to 1830. If you can find a resource in there, the Society likely has it, either digitally or in print, and often both.

      Similarly, the AAS is expanding its collection of digital images available online. You might want to browse through the Gigi catalog, while setting the filter for “religious.” Page 1 brought up some great nineteenth century lithographs, with more pages behind it.

      Something that should be of interest to graduate students is that the AAS offers research fellowships, many of which are for dissertating Ph.D. students. Looking over the current year’s fellows, several of their research projects deal with religious themes. Further, the Society offers affordable housing for its researchers, just up the street. I think this makes research here possible, even for grad students on a shoe-string budget. If you can get to Worcester, you can research here.

      So, perhaps this praise is unnecessary, but if your research touches on religion in the seventeenth through the nineteenth century, you should definitely put the AAS on your itinerary.

      Visiting the Archives: Or, Parker McKenzie Is the Ghost of My Next Book

      I’m delighted to post this today from friend-of-the-blog Jennifer Graber, Professor of Religion at the University of Texas, previously interviewed on the blog here, and author (among other things) of a stunning article on religion, war, and violence, which I blogged about here. Jen was recently at the Oklahoma Historical Society, researching her next book, and sent this dispatch on researching Kiowa history.

      by Jennifer Graber

                 

      Parker McKenzie’s account of naming andfamily connections for Tonekeuh (Good Talk), a Kiowa prisoner-of-war atFort Marion in Saint Augustine, Florida in the 1870s

      Parker McKenzie, a Kiowa linguist, lived to be 101 years old. After his death in 1999, McKenzie’s family donated his papers to the Oklahoma Historical Society. The 34 boxes contain notes from McKenzie’s work to create a Kiowa alphabet and his publications on Kiowa vocabulary.

      His papers also contain notes on Kiowa history. McKenzie collected articles by professional historians, as well oral histories from his relatives that McKenzie transcribed and translated. The articles and the oral histories serve a corrective purpose. For instance, one folder in the collection includes an article on Kiowa drawing by a respected Smithsonian anthropologist. McKenzie scribbled corrections in the margins, offering alternative translations of Kiowa names and providing different dates for particular events. Another folder contains a 1949 interview with his mother, in which McKenzie recorded her perspective on an 1871 violent encounter that most historians call the Warren Wagon Train massacre. McKenzie’s account is titled “Qajai et Topai de Hejega,” translated literally as, “Chiefs they them imprisoned story.”

                  After three days in the archives at the Oklahoma Historical Society, McKenzie’s corrective efforts left me unsettled. Isn’t it inevitable that I will end up as one more in a long line of non-Kiowa historians who McKenzie needs to correct? Won’t he be the ghost, looming over my shoulder, scribbling corrections in my margins?
                  Maybe so. While my experience working through Parker’s papers certainly unnerved me, I have decided to welcome the ghost. By way of McKenzie’s life-long work and his family’s generosity, historians like me have one more way to access alternative accounts of the Kiowa story. I can sort through his notes, often collected on the back of old calendars and tax returns, in which McKenzie carefully recorded his understanding of who is related to whom, of what names meant and how people received them, and of the ways that Kiowas tell their stories that other historians have obscured.

                  I figure that this ghost will exhaust me. Perhaps out of nervousness, but hopefully out of the scholarly pursuit of data, I will seek out every possible source that gets at Kiowa perspectives. I’ll check every name. Every date. Every family connection. I’m sure I’ll get something wrong. But maybe this ghost will prompt me to get at least a few more things right. So, welcome to my book, take a rest on my shoulder, Parker McKenzie!

      Resources for those Researching Spiritualism and Occultism in American History

      John L. Crow

      Since 2009, Marc Demarest, Pat Deveney and others have been working to collect, digitize, and post various important Spiritualist and Occult periodicals that have only been available previously in archives or on microfilm. The effort is called the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals (IAPSOP) and was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Recent additions include The Banner of Light from 1857-1894, Proceedings of American Society for Psychical Research, Journal of American Society for Psychical Research, The Spiritual Scientist, and much more. Although there are a great number of periodicals already online, there is more coming available in the future. In addition to IAPSOP, Demarest operates the Emma Harding Britten Archive which includes numerous resources regarding Britten in particular and Spiritualism in general. These resources include an e-list which discusses the field of research on Anglo-American Spiritualism. Recently Demarest published an edited and annotated edition of Britten’s Art Magic (Typhon Press 2011) , and is currently working on revising and annotating Ghost Land. Lastly, he maintains a blog about his research into Britten entitled, Chasing Down Emma: Resolving the contradictions of, and filling in the gaps in, the life, work and world of Emma Hardinge Britten. IAPSOP, the blog, e-list, and other resources are well worth checking out for those interested in the history of Spiritualism and Occultism in America.

      WWII art from UK National Archives on Wikimedia

      "It's up to You (Britannia)" by Tom PurvisMore than 350 original World War II artworks from the National Archives collection have been scanned and uploaded to Wikimedia. Wikimedia UK gave the National Archives a grant to take high resolution pictures of part of their 2000-piece collection of art created for Ministry of Information propaganda during the Second World War. The long-term goal is to scan the entire collection, but they’re starting off with 350 posters, drawings, oil paintings, portraits, and caricatures by well-known artists and talented artists who should be well-known, including famous images and slogans.

      "Keep mum - she's not so dumb" by unknown artistThe National Archives is hoping the new visibility of their collection will garner additional attention from scholars and the public. They’re also hoping the crowdsourcing power of Wiki will help them identify some of the unknown artists and fill in other informational blanks. Wikimedia is excited to have a whole new source of images to accompany old and new Wikipedia entries. Many of the artists in the collection who already have a Wikipedia page haven’t had any representations of their work on the page until now.

      Bombing scene with penciled correction by James GardnerSome of the artworks have been classics of the propaganda poster genre, like the “Careless talk costs lives” posters from the campaign against sharing sensitive information with civilians (especially dangerous blondes). Others are sketches that were submitted to the Ministry but never published. You can see notes penciled in on the borders, among them a pointed critique of artistic license: “Bomb racks open from centre and not from side as in your sketch.”

      Portrait of Winston Churchill by William TimymThere is a series of flattering oil portraits of Allied leaders about two-thirds of the way down on the second page by Austrian artist William Timym who moved from Vienna to London in 1938 after the Anschluss. He was naturalized a British citizen in 1949 and would later become known as the creator of the Bleep and Booster series of animated shorts.

      "Assassination of Heydrich" by Terence CuneoIt’s the more dramatic war scenes that most catch my eye. Terence Cuneo is widely collected today for his post-war paintings of railways and locomotives. He was also the official artist for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. During the war he served as a combat engineer in the British Army and as an artist for the War Artists Advisory Committee. In the Wikimedia collection you can see his paintings of an invasion in the Far East, tanks in production, tanks in battle and most striking of all in subject matter at least, the 1942 assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the main architects of the Final Solution.

      "Tower Bridge" by Eve KirkOne of my favorite pieces is an oil painting by Eve Kirk, a landscape painter and graphic designer whose wartime work showed at the Royal Academy in 1945. It depicts Tower Bridge and the Thames harbor protected by a sky full of barrage balloons. Barrage balloons were tethered balloons intended to collide with and damage low-flying, fast-moving aircraft like dive bombers. They were deployed in British cities starting in 1938. By 1940 there were almost 500 of them in the skies over London.

      "Stand Firm!" by Tom PurvisThen there are the symbolic illustrations, like the proud Aslan-like lion representing England painted by Tom Purvis, the British pincer cracking the swastika by Frank Newbould, the squirrels lining up to get their ration of coal by Clive Uptton, the British and Soviet arms strangling the German eagle rising from a bombed-out city by an unknown artist, and also by an unknown artist, this sort of dark Pink Floyd vision of a sword impaling a bleeding Germany through to a rainbow and sun behind.

      "Give us the tools and..." by Frank Newbould"Order your fuel now" by Clive UpttonSoviet and British unity strangling predatory Germany, by unknown artistSword piercing Germany by unknown artist

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      National Archives Titanic Exhibit

      If you’ve read our article on the Titanic and want more information, Britain’s National Archives have launched an online exhibition. It has crew and passenger lists, stories about some of those on board, podcasts and more.

      SciAm’s early archives free and patent models galore

      Scientific American has recently digitized its archives, every issue of the magazine from the first one in August 28, 1845 to the most recent. Most of them can only be accessed by subscribers to the print edition, educational institutions with a site license or on a pay-per-view basis. There’s brief window during which those of us of a historico-nerdly bent can wallow as deeply as we please in all of the oldest issues free of charge. Until November 30, all of the Scientific American issues published between 1845 and 1909 will be available for free.

      Each issue has a table of contents of individual articles that you can read or you can download the entire issue in a single pdf, which is what I’ve been doing because the cover and the advertisements are just as cool as the articles. SciAm’s Anecdotes from the Archives blog has an interesting entry on the first issue, which was tailored to appeal to people from many walks of life, not just scientists and inventors. There were book reviews, poems, even what appear to be News of the World-style tall tales categorized as “interesting news of passing events.”

      In the three 1845 issues I’ve read thus far, new patents take a prominent position both in column-inches and in advertising. Little wonder, because the mid-19th century was a boom time for patents and new inventions. Patent models were exhibited in galleries and gazed upon like Old Master art.

      Those days are upon us again, albeit in far reduced form, thanks to an exhibit of patent models at the Smithsonian that just opened on November 11. Inventing a Better Mousetrap: Patent Models from the Rothschild Collection will be at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until November 3, 2013. That’s the perfect location seeing as the building that now houses the American Art Museum (and the National Portrait Gallery) was authorized by President Andrew Jackson in the Patent Act of 1836, to serve as a fireproof patent office.

      Jackson signed the bill on the Fourth of July. On December 15, 1836, while the new fireproof building was still in the early stages of construction, a fire broke out at Blodgett’s Hotel where the Patent Office shared space with the General Post Office and Washington City Post Office. Although there was a fire station right next door to guard against just such an eventuality, the engines had been equipped in 1820. The leather hose fell apart in the firefighters’ hands and the pump never even started. The Patent Office, the only building that the British left alone during the Burning of Washington in 1814 thanks solely to the intervention Dr. William Thornton, architect of the United States Capitol, inventor, physician and first Superintendent of the Patent Office, who convinced the British command to spare the Patent Office because of its importance to mankind, burned with all its contents.

      All the patents and patent models kept since the creation of the office as per the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8) and the Patent Act of 1790 were destroyed. The only patent records left were in a book that had been removed from the premises against Patent Office rules by a draftsman named William Steiger and whatever was in the memory of the sole patent examiner. That’s 10,000 patents, most of them lost irretrievably. There was an attempt to put the archive back together using private files and reproductions of the models. The Patent Office wrote to every inventor it could think of asking them to recreate models and paperwork. In the end, they were able to restore 2,845 of the 10,000 lost, all of them reissued with a patent number beginning with “X.” The patent numbers began again with “1″ starting with ones issued in July because all of the most recent patents had been easily recovered from the inventors’ records.

      Once safely ensconced in the new building, the patent models were put on public display. Admission was free and with the explosion of industrialization in the mid-19th century, inventions and mechanical models drew big crowds. Approximately 100,000 people a year visited the Patent Office in the 1850s to view the models held in three tiers of nine-foot-high display cases. In 1880, the Patent Office stopped requiring inventors to submit a model. It had accumulated 200,000 patent models by that date.

      At the turn of the century, as the Department of the Interior grew and expanded into the Patent Office’s space, the models were removed from display and put in storage. Then, in 1924, Congress, which had once passed laws to help the Patent Office recover the records lost in the Great Fire, suddenly became concerned about the exorbitant cost of storing these “useless” models. It allocated $10,000 to get rid of that immense collection of the history of American ingenuity, mechanical science, industry, play, posthaste. The families of the inventors claimed some. Whatever museum asked for any got them (the Smithsonian claimed 2,500). The rest were all sold at auction in 1925.

      Sir Henry Wellcome, founder of Wellcome Pharmaceutical Company (now Glaxo Smith Kline) and London’s splendid Wellcome Collection of medical artifacts and curiosities, purchased the entirety of the United States Patent Office’s models at the auction. He intended to build a museum of the patent model, but the Wall Street Crash of 1929 stopped him in his tracks. After his death in 1936, the trustees of Wellcome’s estate sold the patent models to a Broadway producer for $50,000. He sold it for $75,000 to a group of businessmen who also planned to build a museum, but they were forced to file for bankruptcy in 1941 and the models were sold to, of all people, an auctioneer named O. Rundle Gilbert for the measly sum of $5,000. Needless to say, after that, the models were sold to collectors far and wide.

      It wasn’t until the 1970s that aerospace engineer Cliff Petersen bought all the crates Gilbert had left, 800 of them still in their 1926 packaging, and donated 30,000 of the models within to the United States Patent Model Foundation. He kept about 5,000 models for his personal collection.

      Alan Rothschild, an inventor in his own right and model collector, bought the bulk of Petersen’s collection in the 1990s. He opened the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum in 1998 to house the almost 4,000 patent models in his collection. Space at the museum is very limited, so the models are not on public display but only viewable upon appointment. They are regularly loaned to other institutions, however, and some are part of a travelling tour called The Curious World of Patent Models currently winding its way through the United States. You can find dates where the exhibit will be at a museum near you on this page.

      Thirty-two of the models in the Rothschild Collection are part of the Smithsonian exhibit. Alan Rothschild himself will be at the American Art Museum for a lecture on December 1, 2011, 7–8 PM, along with curator Charles Robertson to discuss the patent models on display, their inventors and the period. Admission is free.

      You can search the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum’s collection online. They have an extensive database with featured items of interest as well as links to the original patent applications complete with explanations and drawings. The Smithsonian exhibit has a small but sweet picture slideshow here.

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