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Materials from Pendle Hill Summer Institute

  • CA ON00389 F4-7-1-2145
  • File
  • 1976 - August 1982, predominant 1982
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

File consists of materials related to Pendle Hill, predominantly to the Summer Institute, a 5-week retreat run between June 28 and early August 1982 where Nouwen taught. There are also materials from the 1970s but they were most likely gathered by Nouwen for use during this event.
There are 36 handwritten pages by Nouwen which appear to be preparation notes for various lectures he gave at the institute. There is also a 6-page typed document by John Mogabgab titled "Pendle Hill Conversations Meeting 4 (October 27, 1977) Summary Notes".
Material that relates directly to the 1982 retreat includes correspondence from Pendle Hill dated May 17, 1982 to the 43 participants in the retreat regarding housing arrangements, health insurance, typewriting and cooperative housekeeping chores. There is also a typed list of all the participants and their addresses. As well, there is a eight page group of typed notes titled "Some Notes for a Five Weeks [sic] Reflection on the Gospel of Luke" as well as sheet music and a Curriculum Vitae of a lay reader from Sydney, Australia. There is also a photocopy of a long-distance phone bill containing a letter from one of Nouwen's suite mates regarding an overpayment. Nouwen's long-distance calls are noted.
File also includes three pamphlets from Pendle Hill, namely Parker Palmer's "Meeting for Learning" and "A Place called Community" and Douglas V. Steere's "On Speaking out of the Silence", as well as some ephemera.
Also contained in this file is a program schedule for a commemoration conference on Thomas Merton, hosted by Columbia University between November 27 and December 10, 1978. It appears that Nouwen cancelled some of his plans for this conference to visit Pendle Hill. See Weekly Calendars 1978.
File also contains an introduction package for the institute consisting of a welcome letter by Parker Palmer and brief staff biographies.


During his career Prof Chambers has written more than 12 books, 5 of these as the sole author. These books relate to both areas of expertise, linguistics and jazz.

This series contains files relating to four of his books, all as sole author, and all relating to jazz music. The most voluminous information relates to his first major book on jazz, the biography of Miles Davis. Milestones I: The music and times of Miles Davis to 1960 and Milestones II: The music and times of Miles Davis since 1960 were published in 1983 and 1985 respectively and at a total of 761 pages remains Prof. Chambers’ major work to date. The files documenting this book include correspondence relating to both volumes, reviews, and manuscripts. Chambers’ format for this book has been described as a ‘bio-discography’ with the sound documents of some 120 phonorecords that Miles Davis had appeared on. [1]

The second book documented in this series is Genuflect, an unpublished novel set in Toronto, the manuscript of which was produced in 1995 and 1996. Files relating to this work consist of correspondence and two drafts of the manuscript.

Crescendo: Duke Ellington in the Age of Cool Jazz and Hard Bop was completed in 2006 and submitted to various publishers. The files relating to this yet unpublished book consist of correspondence and the manuscript.

Bouncin with Bartock: The incomplete works of Richard Twardzik , published in 2008 by Mercury Press (Toronto), is another biographical work. In this book, Prof. Chambers describes the life of American jazz pianist, Dick Twardzik, who died of a drug overdose in 1955 at the age of 24. In a review of this book, the reviewer states “Chambers…has taken this mysterious figure from a bygone jazz era and brought him fully to life in the pages of this remarkable book… Chambers … has uncovered a rich cornucopia of information on the pianist. He conferred with aunts and cousins, friends and acquaintances, commentators and colleagues. He tracked correspondence, followed up various trails, and puts together a complete account, satisfying both for its biographical rigor as well as the critical intelligence he applies to Twardzik’s body of work.” [2] The files relating to this book include correspondence from 1975 to 2007, and a manuscript.

[1] Offprint of Robert Witmer, review in Humanities, p. 229 B2009-0044/025 (08)

[2] From review by Ted Gioia at

Research project: Dialect Topography Project

This series contains files relating to a major research project undertaken over a 10 year period from 1991-2002. Prof. Chambers was the principal investigator. The dialect topography project is described in the grant application as “a set of methods for gathering information on English vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and usage from representative samples of adults in various Canadian regions, using a standard questionnaire….By correlating language use with social factors…we can determine how men and women use the language, how Canadians differ from Americans at border points, whether young people are using the language differently from their parents and grandparents…” The project consisted of macro-sociolinguistic regional surveys of regions across Canada including the Golden Horseshoe (Ontario), Ottawa Valley, Quebec City, Montreal, New Brunswick, Eastern Townships and Greater Vancouver, as well as adjacent U.S. regions (upstate New York, Maine, Vermont, and Washington).

This series contains files documenting agreements and contracts, grant applications, correspondence and notes, as well as correspondence relating to the various regions where surveys were conducted. The complete databases, including on-line tutorials, are stored on the University of Toronto’s Arts and Science web site at

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