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Throughout much of human history, women provided often unpaid support and been the unrecognized mainstays to what was perceived as the greater work of men. Back in the day, a woman’s workplace was in the home, where she labored with little or no recognition and certainly without pay. Over time, women have broken out of traditional roles to find employment outside of their homes, and increasingly, even to become entrepreneurs forming their own innovative businesses.

The women’s archives at the BFCSC include personal papers of some these courageous and creative women who earned their livings and were engaged in world politics and women’s rights issues as journalists, writers, diplomats and business owners.

Sylvia Beach (1887-1962) founded the famous bookshop and lending library, Shakespeare and Company, in Paris in 1919. The bookshop was a literary hub between the world wars for artists and writers including Sherwood Anderson, Simone de Beauvoir, Stephen Vincent Benet, T.S. Eliot, Andre Gide, Ernest Hemingway, Wyndham Lewis, Archibald MacLeish, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Paul Valery, Thornton Wilder, and William Carlos Williams.

John L. Brown Papers 1, GTM.Gamms167

Anna M. Brady (1901-1999) was a journalist and veteran correspondent on Vatican affairs. Based in Rome for 29 years, she covered the conclaves that elected Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II; as well as all sessions of Vatican II and the early subsequent synods. During her Vatican II years, she was dubbed “dean” of the Vatican Press Corps and was a welcomed member of the daily press corps briefings at each session. Brady was the only woman ever permitted to travel on the papal plane to accompany Pope Paul VI on his first five pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Bombay, Fatima, the United Nations in New York, and Istanbul.

Anna M. Brady papers, GTMGamms330

Clinch Calkins (1895-1968), was a novelist and poet. Her most critically acclaimed book was Some Folks Won’t Work (1930), a seminal document on the Depression, based on 300 individual case histories of the effects of unemployment. Published a year following the Wall Street Crash, the book  received accolades on the front page of the New York Times Book Review, and brought Calkins national attention along with an invitation from Harry Hopkins (advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt) to work with the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). Calkins travelled across country reporting on socioeconomic conditions and ghost-writing for Hopkins.

Clinch Calkins papers, GTM000622

Carmen Callil (1938- ), is an Australian critic, publisher, writer, and founder of the Virago Press dedicated to publishing female authors.

Antonia White – Carmen Callil papers, GTM120607

 Clare Boothe Luce with Chiang Kai Shek and Wife in Burma

Clare Boothe Luce. Photograph with Chiang Kai Shek
and wife in Burma, 1942
(Clare Boothe Luce Photographic Collection, GTM.Gamms265, 2:26a)

Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was an editor for such well-known magazines as Vogue in 1930, and the Condé Nast magazine Vanity Fair from 1929 until 1934. Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her as ambassador to Italy from 1953 to 1957. Throughout her life, Luce was involved in many humanitarian organizations including the American Friends of Captive Nations, American Security Council, International Rescue Committee, and U.S. Committee for Refugees, among others.

Clare Boothe Luce Photographic Collection, GTM.Gamms265

Lisa Sergio

Photograph of Sergio at railway station. Undated.
Credit: Hans J. Knopf Pix Incorporated, New, York.
(Lisa Sergio Papers, GTM.Gamms172; 14:51) Reproduced from original

Lisa Sergio (1905-1989) was a radio news commentator who fled Mussolini’s regime and emigrated to the U.S., where she worked for over five decades as a radio commentator and television host for major broadcasters such as ABC and NBC. She also lectured extensively on human rights, women’s rights, the detrimental effect of war, and promotion of peace.

Lisa Sergio Papers, GTM.Gamms172

Norah Tracey (1903-?  ), was a bespoke milliner and dressmaker who worked independently from home.

Norah Tracey papers GTM861201


Lisette Matano, Manuscripts Archivist

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As of March 1, all AWS services are running normally and service providers have recovered from the outages. Systems should again be running normally. Please contact if you experience any problems.

Posted: 03/01/2017, 9:03am ET


Ongoing problems with Amazon Web Services (AWS) have caused ongoing problems for a wide number of websites, including those running library systems and electronic resources. Please be aware that you may experience slow connection times or error messages while AWS resolves this issue. We are aware of the AWS issue affecting access to the following electronic resources (not a comprehensive list):

  • ProQuest databases, including
    • ABI/Inform
    • ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
    • ProQuest International Newsstand
    • ProQuest Research Library
    • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts

You may also experience slow connection times and reduced services with the following library systems:

  • Databases A-Z
  • Research & Course Guides

We will update this information as soon as it is received by the library.

Posted: 02/28/2017, 4:00pm ET

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Electronic Resources Updates
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Springshare reported an outage of their LibGuides platform at 12:50pm ET. This has rendered our Databases A-Z list and Research & Course Guides inaccessible.

During this outage, databases can still be reached through OneSearch and George, while journal-level links can be found in OneSearchGeorge, and the Journal Finder
Springshare is working on this issue. We will send an update when we have confirmed a restoration in service.
If you have additional questions, please contact us at


Posted 02/28/2017, 1:10pm ET

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Electronic Resources Updates
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Curiosity Engraving

Engraving: “Curiosity” by E.G. Dunnel,
painted by N. Diaz, no date,
Cherished Memories,
a 19th century woman’s scrapbook (GTM170130)


The vast quantity and infinite research potential of primary sources can be daunting so that it is often difficult to know where to start. Selection of a primary source or archival item may be the first action, followed by deciding what to write about it. It is often necessary to assess the research potential of an item before defining the research topic. Sometimes it’s easier to start with the item, if only because you like it!

Selecting an item for research involves an assessment of its research potential. Considering the following criteria can help to identify a promising item.

  • Legibility – Can you read it?
  • Contextual value – Does the content provide information about and insight into the item. Could a narrative or backstory be construed?
  • Multiple perspectives – How many angles could you approach to writing about the item? Can you identify multiple related subjects? Example: For an item created by a 19th century woman, related subjects can include women’s history, literacy, civil rights, work or occupations.
  • Availability of secondary sources for further research (e.g., related published articles, books providing additional information on the context and subjects of the item).

Next, define a research topic or question.  Good ones are typically specific and narrow. If the topic is broad, the amount of information available will be difficult to synthesize into a finite project. Developing a good research topic can be challenging; however, instructors, librarians and archivists can offer invaluable assistance here because they are familiar with pertinent information resources, and are likely to have helped other researchers with a similar area of interest. When defining a research topic, it helps to

Identify parameters of the topic – Narrow the focus of the topic by

  • Subjects
  • Geographical location(s)
  • Dates

Find archival/special collections that match the topic

  • Library research guides (arranged by topic or course) – help to identify both primary and secondary sources and often provide guides and tools for conducting research.
  • Consult with librarians and archivists.

Find help on researching primary sources in the Special Collections guide on Archival Research.

Read more about researching primary sources in the “Making Sense of Evidence” series at

Look out for more of my blog posts on researching with manuscripts.

Lisette Matano, Manuscripts Archivist

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Students have been celebrating Mardi Gras at Georgetown for well over 100 years. Traditionally, the celebration consisted of dramatic entertainment, a masquerade ball, and a dinner. The festivities lasted well into the night.

College Journal 1876The first printed reference to these celebrations can be found in the March 1874 edition of the Georgetown College Journal, which describes that year’s festivities (sometimes described as Carnival or Shrove-Tuesday). It is likely, though, that these celebrations took place for many years before this first mention in the Journal. Each year a committee of students was constituted to handle the planning of the event, which included arrangements for costumes, sets, music and decorations as well as food and printed programs. The programs included a wealth of information about the night’s festivities, from performers down to the appetizers served at dinner.

The earliest program in the University Archives dates to 1876 and can be seen below. A recap of the evening was published in the April 1876 issue of the Georgetown College Journal. To learn more about Mardi Gras at Georgetown contact the University Archives!

--Ann Galloway, Assistant University Archivist


Mardi Gras Program Cover

Mardi Gras Program Page 2

Mardi Gras Program Page 3

Mardi Gras Program Page 4

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Libraries, Archives, Museums, and other cultural institutions hosted #ColorOurCollections again this month to draw attention to some of the many wonderful images found in books, manuscripts, works of art, or just doodles found in the margins.

Try your hand at coloring some of our cultural heritage collections. Imagine yourself in a scriptorium inside a European monastery, guided by only candlelight, working side by side with other scribes and artists. Print our pages and share them whenever you want. We’ll be happy to see your creative work! Just tag your image with #gtownlibrary to be included in our curated collection.

--Ethan Henderson, Rare Books Curator

Alice and the Knight




Chartier first page

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Rare Books
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Max Weyl, a landscape painter of views in and around Washington, D.C., was born in southern Germany and apprenticed as a watchmaker before moving with his family to Williamsport, Pennsylvania at the age of sixteen. He came to Washington in 1861 to catch a glimpse of his hero, Abraham Lincoln, and within a year established a small jewelry business on 7th Street across from where the Verizon Center stands today. Weyl’s interest shifted to painting, and he began displaying still-life and landscape pictures in the window of his shop.  When his work was noticed and purchased by Samuel Hay Kauffmann, president of the board of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and publisher of The Evening Star newspaper, Weyl’s career was officially launched.  Encouraged by Kauffmann, who financed a year of study abroad, Weyl turned the management of his shop over to his wife and traveled to four European countries in 1879, where he fell under the spell of Corot, the Barbizon artists, and the recently launched Impressionist movement.

Max Weyl's View of Georgetown From the Virginia Shore

Max Weyl (1837-1914)
View of Georgetown from the Virginia Shore, 1902
Oil on canvas
18 x 24 inches

Upon his return to the U.S., Weyl established an art studio at 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue where Washington artists and their circle became fond of gathering. He joined with a group to form the Washington Landscape School, working in the tradition of the French Barbizon style. This involved painting out of doors directly from nature as opposed to the more common practice of crafting landscapes in the studio based on memory or sketches taken on-site. Weyl became known as “the American Daubigny” who drew inspiration from his native environment. As described in the Washington Star newspaper at the centenary anniversary of his birth:

To Max Weyl no place was more beautiful and more paintable than Washington and its environs. He was never eager to travel or explore. The Potomac Flats, Rock Creek valley, the fields beyond the city limits contained for him all the elements essential to landscape painting. 

Weyl was also a member of the Society of Washington Artists and won two prizes in 1901 and 1904, but remained a rather reclusive artist. His paintings were purchased by two first ladies and at the age of 70 he was honored with a solo exhibition of over one hundred paintings at the Corcoran’s Hemicycle Gallery in 1907. At that exhibition, his painting of an Indian Summer Day was purchased by thirty friends as a gift to what was then the U.S. National Museum, a predecessor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

This View of Georgetown from the Virginia Shore, showing the skyline with the campus buildings, is one of four paintings by Weyl in Georgetown’s collection. The others are: a View of Georgetown from the Virginia Side of the Potomac, a Portrait of the Artist’s Father, and a Wooded Landscape.

--LuLen Walker, University Art Collection Curator

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Art Collection
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Most people have heard of Washington Irving (1783-1859), the prolific American author who penned such classics as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.”  However, few realize that he had a distinguished career as a U. S. diplomat.  The Booth Family Center for Special Collections owns a letter book documenting Washington Irving’s work as U.S. Minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846. The letter book is a bound volume containing handwritten copies of outgoing letters sent by Irving to American and Spanish diplomats.

Irving spent the years 1815 to 1832 in Europe, where he was one of the first American writers to garner widespread international acclaim.  At the invitation of U.S. Minister to Spain Alexander Hill Everett, Irving became an attaché in the U.S. embassy in Madrid in 1826.[1] He became fascinated with Spanish culture. publishing the History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1828, the Chronicle of the Conquest of Grenada in 1829, and The Alhambra in 1832.  He continued his diplomatic career as a secretary in the U.S. legation in London from 1829 to 1832.

Irving returned to Spain as the U.S. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from 1842 to 1846.  He once again put his literary skills to good use by writing detailed, insightful dispatches, vividly describing the tumultuous state of contemporary Spanish politics.  Political unrest surrounded 12-year-old Queen Isabella II (1830-1904).  Her opponents questioned her right to the throne at such an early age, and they criticized her regent.  Irving felt sympathy for the queen, who remained in power despite serious challenges.

Amidst the political turmoil, Irving found some moments to continue his writing pursuits.  Poor health and a skin condition, however, kept him away from his duties at times.  During this period, he also made some trips to other parts of Europe for his health.

A number of letters from U.S. Minister to Spain Washington Irving to U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster are preserved in our letter book. Here are excerpts from a November 22, 1842 dispatch to Webster detailing an insurrection in Barcelona. 

Irving reported that “sudden news arrived of a formidable insurrection at Barcelona.”  He analyzed the source of the uprising:

The immediate cause of this outbreak appears to have been accidental; but the populace of Barcelona, at all times excitable, have of late been in a general state of uneasiness and irritation, caused, it is said, by the rigorous hand held over them by Government; by the rough, and at times unconstitutional, measures of General Lurbano in suppressing sedition, contraband, and robbery; and by the apprehended “Cotton Treaty” with England.

He provided even more detail:

Washington Irving letter excerpt

It appears to have been a general and spontaneous rising of the populace, something like that of the “three days” in Paris. Barricades have been formed in the streets, missils [sic] hurled from the windows, and even women and children have been mingled in the affray. The troops after ineffectual efforts to maintain the mastery of the city have been driven out with heavy loss; some who lingered in the Citadel have been obliged to capitulate, and to retire after surrendering their arms.

He noted how the revolt may affect the Queen:              

Yesterday [General Baldomero] Espartero [the Queen’s Regent] took his leave in military style of all of the National Guards, assembled in the Prado. He made an address professing his determination to maintain the constitution of 1837, against despotism on the one hand, and anarchy on the other, and he confided as on a former occasion to their patriotism, loyalty, and valor, the protection of the city and of the youthful Queen. His address was received with animated acclamations, and he departed amidst the cheerings of the multitude.

Irving concluded his analysis by writing:

Washington Irving letter excerpt

I give you what appears most to be depended upon of the various reports in circulation. If this insurrection be speedily put down it may strengthen the hands of Espartero, and increase the public confidence in the sincerity of his professions concerning the Constitution of 1837, and the limited minority of the Queen.

Washington Irving brought his unique literary perspective to his work as U.S. Minister to Spain.  He was an astute observer of Spanish politics.  Although this letter was written in a secretary’s hand, it and others like it found in Washington Irving’s letter book from Spain provide ample source material of his time in Spain and his contributions to U.S. diplomatic history.

--Scott Taylor, Manuscripts Archivist

[1] The Booth Family Center for Special Collections also holds the Alexander Hill Everett collection, a small collection of documents by Alexander Hill Everett.


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In the 19th century it was not uncommon for the U.S. President to attend the Georgetown College commencement—not to speak, but to hand out diplomas and prizes to students. The tradition seems to have begun with John Quincy Adams, who was present at both the 1825 and 1829 commencements. James Buchanan attended in 1857 and 1859, but declined in 1858 for health reasons. In a letter to the Georgetown President Bernard Maguire, S.J., President Buchanan assured Father Maguire that, while “it would afford me very great pleasure to be with you,” he felt “obligated to be with the Ladies [graduating students at the Georgetown Visitation Academy] the following day” and that he “could not think, in this hot weather, of passing two days in succession in a crowd.” 

Harriet Lane Letter 1858 page 1This letter (click to enlarge), addressed to the Georgetown President and dated July 7, 1858 (apparently the actual day of the commencement), also declines the invitation to the ceremony on behalf of President Buchanan. It is signed H. Lane and written on stationery headed by a monogram made up of the overlapping letters H, R, and L. 

Harriet Lane Letter 1858 page 2

The writer was Harriet Rebecca Lane, who was James Buchanan’s niece and who acted as his First Lady. Note her comment that “. . . you will not allow me to distribute the Diplomas or Premiums or make myself useful in any way.” The passage of almost 160 years since this letter was written makes it difficult to interpret this sentence. While the words may have been jokingly penned, the underlining which is absent from any other portion of the letter could also be taken to convey a sense of indignation, despite the polite expressions that follow. Whatever the motivation behind the words, they were written because of Harriet Lane’s sex. Women played little active part in the workings or events of Georgetown College at this time. The first women did not enroll at Georgetown until 22 years after Harriet’s letter was written, when Jeannette Rice and Annie Sumner attended the Medical Department during the 1880-1881 academic year. The first women to graduate and so participate in any graduation ceremony, other than as audience members, were students in the Training School for Nurses Class of 1906. And the first honorary degree was not awarded to a woman until 1934, when Mrs. Nicholas Brady, National Chair of the Girl Scouts of America and Vice Chair of the Women’s National Committee of Welfare and Relief Mobilization, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws.  

The 1858 commencement ceremony went forward in the absence of President Buchanan and Harriet—presumably Father Maguire handed out the diplomas and prizes. Nine Georgetown students received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, six Master of Arts degrees were awarded, and students entertained the audience with speeches on topics ranging from “The Poetry of Life” to “The Division of Poland.” 

--Lynn Conway, University Archivist

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On January 11, 1963, barely a year after his historic orbit of Earth, John Glenn spent a day at Georgetown University. He came to the hilltop to film an episode of “The Experts Answer,” a program sponsored by the United States Information Agency, to be aired in South America. During the filming, Glenn was joined by two journalists and two Georgetown students to discuss the United States space program, its economic aspects, and the current space race with the Soviet Union. After the taping, Glenn was interviewed by WGTB director Jack Burgess, who asked Glenn questions related to his work on the Gemini and Mercury projects. Glenn also spent time with University administrators and staff and delivered remarks to a gathering of students.

Ann Galloway, Assistant University Archivist


The following photographs were taking by University Photographer Bob Young, Jr., who documented Glenn’s day on campus:

John Glenn, Vera Rubin and Fr. Martin McCarthy

Glenn with Vera Rubin and Martin McCarthy, S.J., Professor of Astronomy

John Glenn speaks at Georgetown

Glenn speaks to a group of students and University staff

John Glenn, Fr. McCarthy and Dr. William Thaler

Glenn with Fr. McCarthy and Dr. William Thaler, Professor of Physics

John Glenn interview

Glenn being interviewed by WGTB’s Jack Burgess

John Glenn, Mark Phillips, Vera Rubin and Fr. McCarthy

Glenn with Mark Phillips, Vera Rubin and Fr. McCarthy


John Glenn and Edward Bunn, S.J.


Glenn with GU President Edward Bunn, S.J.

John Glenn filming

Glenn during filming of “The Experts Answer” in Copley Lounge

John Glenn filming

Glenn during filming of “The Experts Answer” in Copley Lounge

John Glenn filming

Glenn during filming of “The Experts Answer” in Copley Lounge

John Glenn

Glenn during lunch

John Glenn

Glenn speaking to group of students and University staff

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