Friday, November 22, 2013

Edith Stein Collection

The library's current archival exhibit is The Life and Times of Edith Stein:  St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. This will be on display until February 28, 2014.

The Edith Stein Collection was donated to the Graduate Theological Union by Susanne M. Batzdorff, a niece of the saint. One of the foremost experts on Edith Stein, she assumed responsibility of the collection from her mother, Dr. Erna Biberstein (1890-1978).  Beginning shortly after the end of World War II, her mother began sharing insights into her sister and made sure facts regarding her family were correct.

Susanne, who moved to Santa Rosa from the East coast, decided to donate her collection on her aunt, Edith Stein,  to the Graduate Theological Union in 2002.  Instrumental in the decision were Dean Margaret Miles, her assistant Eloise Rosenblatt, and archivist Lucinda Glenn.

During the discussion,  Lucinda wrote to Susanne on September 11, 2001:  "At the GTU, we respect Edith Stein for all she was and is, a woman, a Jew, a scholar, a philosopher, a nun, a saint, and more. We respect and appreciate the whole person, her whole thought, and all of her gifts."

Susanne and her husband Alfred delivered the collection to the GTU on June 19, 2013. Eloise Rosenblatt, still a Sister of Mercy,  but also a busy family law attorney,  joined in the hand off. The collection, which included 3 boxes of manuscript materials and 6 boxes of books, was meticulously organized. (May all archival collections arrive already organized by a librarian.)

To celebrate the donation and to thank Susanne,  we quickly processed the collection,  created an exhibit in the display cases and held a dedication ceremony. Along with Susanne there were a number of speakers from different perspectives: Eloise Rosenblatt, PhD; Rev. Dr. Thomas Devereaux; Emily Leah Silverman, PhD; Justin Gable, OP; Rev. Dr. Louis Weil; and Rev. Dr. John Sullivan, OCD (written remarks). A video of the event is located on the GTU site.  Below is Susanne's very moving talk  to close the event:

There is an enormous amount written about Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. The uniqueness of this archival collection is that it captures her family's view of Edith Stein, follows Edith Stein's search for the truth in philosophy and religion, and provides a quick synopsis in the amount of attention that she has received since her beatification in the way of memorials, conferences, journals, art and performance art.

If you are even slightly interested and in the San Francisco Bay Area, please visit the library for the exhibition, which will be on view in the library through February 18, 2014. For hours go to the GTU website.

The finding aid is on Online Archive of California. To access the collection, please contact the archivist at

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dream Journals

Timothy James Larson (1942-2011) worked with the homeless in Baltimore and with the sick and dying in hospices around Santa Barbara for over a decade.  In 1999, he found himself disabled and unable to work. He responded by spending his time in creative journaling, art and prayer. Just a few days before he died, he donated his writings to the Graduate Theological Union. 

Among the works are a 4000 page dream journal, titled Night Journeys:  The Complete Dreams of Dr. Timothy James Larson. These cover the years from 1950 to 2010. We have just posted the finding aid to Online Archives of California. In addition,  the Prologue and Afterward to Night Journeys are posted here. For those with additional interest,  please contact Special Collections at

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Roots of the Russian Pentecostal Movement in Berkeley

Earlier this month Vladimir Franchuk, a Ukranian Christian historian,  the author of this book on the Russian Pentecostal movement and John (Ivan) E. Voronaev (or Varonaeff), visited the library to review some of the early 20th century Baptist publications in our collection. Last year marked the 90th anniversary of the Pentecostal movement in Russia. He donated a copy of the book and signed it as follows:
"This is just a very simple book about the great man of God, the first Pentecostal missionary in Russia,  who emigrated from Russia to the USA, who lived in San Francisco, who studied in the Baptist Seminary in Berkeley, who was a pastor in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, who went to Soviet Russia in 1920, who started the Pentecostal movement in the former USSR, and became the martyr in Siberia in 1932."
Varonaeff, a graduate of Berkeley Divinity School (now American Baptist Seminary of the West) in 1913, later  became a Pentecostal minister in New York.  He returned to Russia and founded the Pentecostal movement there. He was arrested in 1930 for his ministry and died in a Siberian prison camp in 1932.

Franchuk, along with his wife and entourage, continued on their pilgrimage to the Potrero Hill area in San Francisco, Voronaev's home, and most likely the Russian Baptist Church location,  is listed as 1109 Wisconsin, according to the San Francisco Baptist Association Annual Publication for 1913.

This was our first contact with Franchuk, pictured below with his wife. Previously,  Dony K. Donev has also been in contact with us and  in pursuit of the story behind Voronaev. Helped by Franchuk's research, last year he published, The Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev (English). 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Elephants in God's Living Room: Clergy Abuse and Clericalism, Volume 1: Theoretical Issues

Ruth Krall, retired Professor of Religion, Nursing and Psychology at Goshen College, just sent us a hard copy of the first volume of her work on clergy abuse: The Elephants in God's Living Room: Clergy Abuse and Clericalism, Volume 1: Theoretical Issues. The book can be viewed online on her website.

Krall has studied and worked in the area of sexual violence for over 30 years. While she is a part of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, her book focuses on the issues that developed since 1984 in the Roman Catholic communion. She began donating her papers and manuscript collection to the GTU archives in 2004. Related collections in the archives include Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence Collection, 1977-1992 and two interviews featuring James A. Donahue, GTU President, on the sex abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States during April 2002.

Stephen De Staebler, Memorial Exhibits and Retrospectives

Stephen de Staebler in his studio, October 1992. Below, with Jane Dillenberger. From the slide collection of Jane Dillenberger.
Stephen de Staebler (1933-2011), one of the artists associated with Graduate Theological Union since at least 1978, has had one memorial exhibit this year and a larger one that is currently beautifully displayed at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

The first one featured bronze sculptures from his last works and was on display at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, which went through January 28.

The larger retrospective, Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler, is on display at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, January 14 -April 22, 2012. One room shows scale models of his work, figures and other sculptures and an impressive wall of masks. A second display area is peopled with his ceramic statues,

A panel discussion on De Staebler's work is set for Saturday, February 25, at 1 pm, in the Koret Auditorium at the museum. Moderated by John Handley, a doctoral candidate at the GTU, the panel includes Timothy Anglin Burgard, Ednah Root Curator in Charge of American Art for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Nancy M. Servis, Executive Director of the Richmond Art Center; and John Toki, a noted Bay Area sculptor and former assistant to Stephen De Staebler. for more information see

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jane Newhall (1913 - 2011)

Jane Newhall, around 1990

Jane Newhall passed away in late July at her summer home in West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard. A San Francisco resident, she was known for many benevolent acts, including establishing the endowment that funds the Newhall Fellows at GTU. She began serving on the Board of Trustees in 1968, was named a Life Trustee in 1995 and a Trustee Emerita in 1999.

Each year the Graduate Theological Union recognizes a group of doctoral students as Newhall Scholars, providing the opportunity to work collaboratively with core faculty to develop and teach new courses, lead research, and expand the boundaries of innovative scholarship. Hundreds of students at GTU have benefited from her endowment.

This photograph is from the GTU Photograph Collection. For a more personal perspective of her life, see her obituary in the Vineyard Gazette.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Earth Day 2011

On some afternoons, there appears to be far more children from day care on the Pacific School of Religion campus than students in divinity school. This Earth Day post is for the parents and the children. (Please click on the image for a full spread.)

"We give thanks for the earth and its creatures and are grateful from A to Z."

From Gary Kowalski, Earth Day: An Alphabet Book. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2009. Design and illustrations by Rocco Baviera. These two pages are shared, courtesy Gary Kowalski.

Thanks to some wonderful donors, we have several alphabet books and a number of prayer books for children in our graduate theological library.

Gary Kowalski's book is a simple yet exquisite reminder of the wonders that we need to respect and steward.

A number of our archival collections document the struggles for intelligent stewardship of nature within religious traditions. These include the Starhawk Collection, Dody H. Donnelly Collection, and Albert Cohen Campus Ministry, Social Justice and the Environment Collection. We also manage the Thomas Starr King Collection. King, among many gifts, was one of the most eloquent of nature writers in the 19th century.