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

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