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Archival description
Henri Nouwen fonds Series
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Administrative resources files

Series consists of administrative resources files which were maintained for Nouwen by Nouwen's administrative staffs from 1983 to 1997. These files contain materials collected by Nouwen in order to assist him with his roles as pastor, writer, researcher, and friend. In addition to subject-based material such as newspaper clippings and brochures, it is evident that Nouwen's administrative assistants at Daybreak used these files to hold administrative material related to liturgical events such as Christmas, Lent, and Easter, as well as other aspects of Nouwen's duties in the community. These files were likely maintained as a resource for Nouwen regarding his daily work.

The titles of the files are taken directly from the file labels created by Nouwen and his administrative assistants, unless otherwise noted. The files are arranged by subject or topic (such as Latin America, Vincent van Gogh, or Abbey of the Genesee), are in alphabetical order, and materials within the files have been maintained chronologically. Many of the materials have been placed in this series because they contain annotations, either by Nouwen or an assistant, saying "File" with the subject or name or "File - Resource files."

Financial files

  • CA ON00389 F4-6
  • Series
  • December 1980 - December 1997, predominant August 1986 - September 1996
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

Series consists of Nouwen's financial files dating from 1980 and 1997, predominantly from 1986 -1997. Prior to 1986 Nouwen's personal accountant kept the majority of Nouwen's records and likely discarded them after the mandatory seven years retention period. The records from this time period are therefore minimal and consist primarily of financial overviews, cash books and American bank and retirement accounts and insurance files. After 1986, the records become more detailed and voluminous, including files about Nouwen's income (stipends, donations and royalties), expenses, taxes, insurance, retirement plans, credit cards and bank accounts.

Although the boxes were in no discernable order, they have been arranged in the following six sub-series by taking into account both the function of the records and the Nouwen staff member responsible for the maintenance of the majority of the records in that grouping:

1.6.1. General Files
1.6.2. Ledgers
1.6.3. Personal Accountant Files
1.6.4. Expenses Files
1.6.5. Cheque and Deposit Books
1.6.6. Donations Files

A more detailed description of each sub-series, as well as each sub-series arrangement can be found in the sub-series descriptions.

The files were created and kept by various secretaries and financial secretaries that Nouwen hired to control his complicated and extensive financial accounts. In the mid-1970s Nouwen hired Joe Sarno as his personal accountant. Sarno was responsible for Nouwen's income tax returns, American bank accounts and retirement funds until 1994 when Nouwen decided to consolidate his accounts to Daybreak. Carol Plantinga served as his financial secretary from the mid-1970s to 1986. From 1983-1985 Nouwen's assistant Peter Weiskel also worked with the financial files. At Daybreak, Connie Ellis took on the roles of both administrative assistant and financial secretary. After Ellis' became ill in 1992 Kathy Christie became Nouwen's administrative assistant and Lydia Banducci was hired as his financial secretary. Christie remained with Nouwen until his death in 1996. In 1993 Banducci was replaced by Margaret Sutton. Sutton remained in this position until 1997. In 1994 Nouwen began to consolidate all his financial and accounting information at Daybreak. Completing Nouwen's 1994 tax return was Sarno's last responsibility as his accountant. In 1996 Sutton arranged for all the records created and kept by Sarno to be transferred to Daybreak. Nouwen began transferring his accounting to account manager Alka Vijan at Canada Trust in 1994.

Calendar files

Series consists of files containing correspondence and other material related to Nouwen's day to day engagements. Nouwen received dozens of invitations each month to give lectures or talks, lead retreats, preside at religious occasions, and provide spiritual direction. Requests came from a wide range of institutions, organisations and individuals, the majority having some sort of religious affiliation. Invitations from institutions included university divinity schools, seminaries, hospital pastoral departments, churches, and Christian retreat centres. Invitations from organisations included the National Catholic AIDS Network, the Ministry of Money, and the Archdiocese of Toronto. Invitations from individuals included requests for Nouwen to preside over masses, weddings, funerals, baptisms and ordinations, and those interested in personal spiritual direction. Such requests often came from priests, ministers, pastors, and chaplains. The majority of Nouwen's engagements took place in the Northeastern United States, Southern Ontario, and Holland. However, he also attended events in Illinois, Texas, California, British Columbia, Quebec, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Ukraine. After Nouwen's move to L'Arche Daybreak in 1986, files were created to plan and document special events associated with his role as pastor. There are files regarding community meetings, community weekends, assistant workshops, visits to other L'Arche communities and meetings of the International Federation of L'Arche.
Generally, when an invitation was accepted a file was created and arranged chronologically according to the date of the event. In some cases the file contains material regarding events scheduled in the same city and in the case of 1985 material regarding an entire months schedule. However, typically the files are organised by event/engagement. In addition to the date of the event the title of the file would often include the name of a person or organisation and/or the event and/or the location of the event. A typical file consists of the initial letter of invitation describing the nature of the request, follow-up correspondence to confirm dates and other arrangements, details regarding Nouwen's role at the event, drafts of promotional material, reference material on the organization(s) involved, the event, the issue and the location, and travel documents. In some cases, the file will also contain handwritten or typed notes, copies of outgoing letters, schedules, programs, bulletins, evaluations completed by attendees, thank you letters and cards from the organiser of the events and others, newspaper clippings of the events and/or the published version of his speech or lecture. Outgoing letters only begin to be seen after 1986 and after that they are not consistent. Much of the correspondence after 1986 is further enriched by the annotations of Nouwen and his assistants Connie Ellis (1986-1992) and Kathy Christie (1992-1996) at L'Arche Daybreak. Other members of the community, including Sue Mosteller, Joe Vorstermans, Nathan Ball and Elizabeth Buckley, also contributed to the files.
The files were created between 1980 and 1996, however, the file titles themselves extend to 1998 because events were often scheduled two or more years in advance. There are no files for January 1982 to April 1985. The files from 1985 contain invitations only from March to August grouped by month. There are no files for June 1987 to May 1990. Approximately 74% of the files in the series are for June 1990 to August 1995. Their are only a small number of files for September 1995 to October 1998, this is likely because Nouwen was on sabbatical from September 1995 to September 1996. The files contain gaps and inconsistencies due to Nouwen's frequent movement between 1982 and 1986 as well as changes in Nouwen's support staff and their differing recordkeeping techniques.
This series provides an excellent overview of Nouwen's schedule of events and specific information regarding his participation at those events. Noteworthy are the handwritten and typed notes used for speaking engagements (some are unpublished) as well as copies of outgoing letters written by Nouwen.

Collected materials

Series consists of material collected by Nouwen on topics, people, and issues of interest. Nouwen used this material for articles, books, lectures, talks, sermons, general interest, and as reference for his duties as pastor, friend, researcher, and writer. Includes journal articles, books, sound recordings, newspaper clippings, photographs, newsletters, and manuscripts. See sub-series level descriptions for more detail.

The series has been arranged in the following six sub-series:
1.12.1. Materials regarding Thomas Merton
1.12.2. Circus material (excluding unpublished manuscripts which are located in the Manuscript Series)
1.12.3. Collected articles
1.12.4. Collected audio cassettes
1.12.5. Postcards and icons
1.12.6. Materials regarding Seward Hiltner

Ephemera and artifacts

  • CA ON00389 F4-14
  • Series
  • [1957 - 1996], predominant 1980 - 1996
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

Series consists of ephemera and artifacts collected by or given to Nouwen throughout his lifetime, including awards and honorary degrees, materials kept in his office and home, promotional materials, artwork, postcards, religious artifacts, and personal artifacts.

Series has been arranged in the following seven sub-series according to their function:
1.14.1. Awards and honourary degrees;
1.14.2. Contents of Nouwen's office;
1.14.3. Promotional material for lectures, workshops and special events;
1.14.4. Collected artwork;
1.14.5. Personal effects;
1.14.6. Postcards, cards and prints;
1.14.7. Religious artifacts.

Manuscripts

Series consists of draft manuscripts and typescripts of more than 150 books and articles, forewords and introductions, sermons, and talks by Henri Nouwen. The date range of the materials is from 1956 to 1996. The series contains drafts of 49 of his articles and drafts of 41 books (Nouwen published over 300 articles and 39 books in his lifetime). In addition to handwritten drafts or typescripts some files may also include loose notes (usually background reading notes), galley and print proofs, administrative papers, correspondence regarding the materials, and photographs and artwork used in the process of publication.

The materials in the Series reflect Nouwen’s general writing process: for the most part he hand-wrote his works on foolscap or in hard-back journals, often he created reading notes pertaining to the subject he was writing on, drafts were typed by an administrative assistant and then circulated to friends and other readers for comment. He saved all of the drafts, often incorporating the notes made by himself and other readers, in order to create one final work.

Common themes present in the drafts include: spirituality, love, God, psychology, theology, relationships, prayer, ministry, and Christian life. Nouwen often reflected on his own spiritual journey and experiences in his works in journal form. This writing was often deeply personal and it is for this reason that some of the manuscripts and drafts are restricted from use, including Man at the Watershed, A Spiritual Journey, Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given (parts of which were published in Life of the Beloved), The Inner Voice of Love, Adam, and Sabbatical Journey.

With exception of the sermons, most material has been published. Eight transcripts have been identified as unpublished, including a book on Anton T. Boisen based on Nouwen’s doctoral thesis, a draft of a work about Nouwen’s friend Richard Alan White, and notes for a book Nouwen began in 1991 regarding the trapeze and the spiritual life as well as some of the restricted material listed above. See file descriptions for more information on each work.

The series has been arranged into two sub-series:

    1. Books and articles
    1. Talks and sermons

Each of these sub-series has sub-sub-series, files, and items. They have been arranged chronologically.

Teaching materials

  • CA ON00389 F4-7
  • Series
  • 1966 - 1985, 1994; predominant 1971 - 1981
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

Series consists of materials created by Nouwen for use in his capacity as a professor and instructor. These materials include notes for lectures, reading notes, class lists, handouts for students, class schedules, course evaluations, audio recordings of lectures, and records related to the administration of courses.

Series has been divided into two sub-series:

1.7.1. Course handouts, lecture, reading and students notes (1966 - 1994, predominant 1972 - 1981). This sub-series also includes 14 audio recordings of Nouwen's lectures and 357 art slides which he used in his lectures on Van Gogh.
1.7.2. Administrative records (1966 - 1994, predominant 1983-1985)

Further details can be found on the sub-series description level.

Photographs

Series consists of colour and black and white photographs (including negatives) accumulated by Nouwen, and colour slides taken by him and others. Photographs not taken by Nouwen were gathered mainly from friends and acquaintances through correspondence, over a period of approximately 30 years. The photographs were stored by Nouwen and his administrative assistant(s) in files, or displayed on one of several large bulletin boards Nouwen used in his office and photograph albums compiled. Some photographs that arrived with correspondence were kept in the General Files series with their letter of origin, while others which were not clearly attached to a letter were separated and added to this series.

Subject matter depicted in the photographs include professional portraits of Nouwen; Nouwen in both his professional and private capacities at: the Yale and Harvard Divinity Schools, and at L'Arche Daybreak (leading church services, at birthdays and Christmas celebrations), religious events (baptisms, first communions, ordinations and weddings); as well as his travels to Peru and Bolivia, the United States, France, and other countries; and with his family in the Netherlands both as a child and as an adult. Photographs also depict Nouwen's friends, their families, and L'Arche Daybreak assistants and core members. In addition, a large number of photographs in this series (approximately one fifth), document Nouwen's time spent in Germany with a flying trapeze troupe, The Flying Rodleighs.

Slides were taken by Nouwen of Martin Luther King, Jr’s civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, in March 1965; of the University of Notre Dame; vacations, including a trip to Greece; and of Nouwen with Rodleigh Stevens of The Flying Rodleighs in 1995.

This series is arranged in three sub-series:

1.15.1. Photographs Accumulated by Henri Nouwen
1.15.2. Early Personal Photographs
1.15.3. Photograph Albums

The series include both file- and item-level descriptions. Photographs and slides are arranged in chronological order where possible.