Series 1 - Oral History Project

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00389 C3-1

Title

Oral History Project

Date(s)

  • 2002-2011 (Creation)

Level of description

Series

Extent and medium

3m of textual records
53 photographs
11 prints
90 audio cassettes, multiple volumes
28 video and/or micro videocassettes, multiple volumes
59 computer disks
3 cd roms

Context area

Name of creator

Administrative history

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Series consists of materials from the 'Completing the Vision: The Oral History of Henri Nouwen' project that was undertaken by Sister Sue Mosteller, Executrix of the Henri Nouwen Literary Centre in partnership with the Henri Nouwen Society and The Henri Nouwen Archives and Research Collection. The project was funded by grants from the Louisville Institution, the Nouwen Society and gifts in kind. The project intended to capture the personal and intimate nature of Nouwen's life and works by interviewing people from Nouwen's extensive network of intellectuals, clerics, lay ministers and ordinary citizens including those from all socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, faiths and traditions who were influenced by Nouwen or influenced him. The interviews were meant to paint a multi-coloured canvas of Nouwen in his many roles and give us a perspective not available in his own writings. Further, the project was a contribution to the ongoing study of religious experience in the 20th century. The project had three specific goals:

  • Fill in historically significant gaps in the present record of Nouwen's life
  • Gain an understanding of why and how a man of such enormous contradictions touched the lives of so many people and drew criticisms of others
  • To give an opportunity for the wide variety of people who were impacted by Nouwen and who in turn contributed to his theological and pastoral vision to give expression to their experience and understanding

From these goals it is hoped this project would act as a resource for contemporary ministry and be an inspiration for ministers, teachers and lay people alike. Further, the project would compliment the writings of Henri Nouwen and the dozen or so newly published books that have explored his legacy since his death.

The interviews conducted for this project relate to four specific periods in Nouwen's life:

  • Early Seminary/University Years 1951-1964
  • Menniger and Notre Dame Years 1964-1967
  • Yale and Harvard Years 1971-1985
  • Final ten years at L'Arche Daybreak 1986-1987

The interviewees range in age, occupation and geographic location but all had a significant relationship with Nouwen at some point in his life. The methodology of the project involved asking each interviewee to spend 30-40 minutes of their interview naming the influences that formed them, their primary relationships, their mission/profession and how their life crossed with Nouwen's.

Over a 24 month period, 93 interviews were conducted, each averaging two hours in length, providing more than 180 hours of multi-textured content regarding Nouwen's theological vision and its impact. The interviewees also recount events of their personal lives and other significant influences unrelated to their relationship with Nouwen. The interviews took place all over North and South America, Europe and Asia and were documented in audio and/or video format. Some of the interviews have been transcribed and a hard copy and/or electronic copy of the transcription are available. Most the interviews and transcriptions are available in English while some are only available in Dutch.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

During the interview process, access and copyright permission was sought through Deed of Gift and Informed Consent forms. However, some files are restricted at the request of the interviewee or to protect third parties. Interviews lacking informed consent forms are also restricted. Restricted files are flagged.

In order to duplicate and/or publish material, textual or audiovisual, researchers must obtain permission from the Archivist or interviewee depending upon the deed of gift afforded to the archives.

Where available, reference copies of the audiovisual material exist but access may be limited due to technical and/or preservation issues; see individual file descriptions or the Archivist for detailed information.

Conditions governing reproduction

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Finding aids

Allied materials area

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Notes area

Note

The interview files of the Henri Nouwen Oral History Project series were organized by the Archives Assistant alphabetically as no other significant system of organization was used during the gathering of interviews or subsequent storage and donation. The administrative files are organized as per the original order used by the project coordinator.
Some of the items have been digitized on 2011.

Alternative identifier(s)

Accession Number

2005 09 ; 2007 66 ; 2007 67 ; 2007 68 ; 2008 01 ; 2009 02 ; 2011 84

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