Henri Nouwen fonds takes Archeion over a new threshold

30 Apr 2015 11:19 AM | Lisa Snider (Administrator)

This month Archeion contributors have taken the total number of archival descriptions in the service to over 30,000. One of the finding aids which has helped us to pass that number is the Henri Nouwen fonds. In this post Gabrielle Earnshaw and Danielle Robichaud tell us more about the significance of this archive and why they wanted to share it using Archeion.

Henri Nouwen fonds on Archeion

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor and writer. After an academic career at Yale and Harvard, he spent the last 10 years of his life living at L’Arche Daybreak, a community for people with intellectual disabilities, in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Upon Nouwen’s death, records he deposited with the Yale Divinity School Library and those housed at L’Arche Daybreak were centralized and used to establish The Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection (Nouwen Archives) at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

It was important for us to create a presence for the Henri Nouwen fonds on Archeion because the themes of Nouwen’s professional output, his organizational affiliations and his lasting personal relationships are not only of wide appeal, but ones that have myriad Canadian and Ontario-based connections. In addition to draft manuscripts, correspondence, lecture notes, administrative files, graphic material, and sound and video recordings, the Nouwen fonds and associated research collections contain material relevant to researchers interested in Jean Vanier, the Canadian founder of L’Arche communities, and various people from Nouwen’s time at L’Arche Daybreak, including his Literary Executrix and writer, Sue Mosteller, CSJ, who sparked the writing of his bestseller The Return of the Prodigal Son about the biblical parable as depicted by the Dutch painter Rembrandt.

As a small archives without a public facing description database, our contribution to Archeion was an important way to reach an audience we may have otherwise missed by relying on our website and more university-focused outreach efforts. Contributing to Archeion was part of a broader push to disseminate information about the Nouwen Archives to a wider online audience1 which has helped to increase the use and visibility of this important fonds.

Gabrielle Earnshaw & Danielle Robichaud

[1] See an article by Processing and Digital Projects Archivist, Danielle Robichaud, in the Spring 2015 edition of Off the Record for more information.

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