Alumni@Work: Catching Up With Our Former Students, Part IV

Today we feature two of our PhD alums, Enaya Othman and Paul Beck. Although both teach in the Milwaukee area, they have followed very different paths through academia.

Enaya Othman (PhD, 2009) has found a niche bridging her culture and the larger Marquette and Milwaukee communities.

IEnaya_edited-1 graduated in 2009 with PhD degree in American and Middle East history from Marquette University. My love and passion of history and my belief in its implications for our present and future guided my career path after graduation. Being a Muslim and a first generation immigrant gave me a mission to document my group’s history in the homeland and diaspora. In 1997, when I began writing my master thesis on Arab communities in Milwaukee, I discovered that this group’s history– especially Arab and Muslim women’s history—is underrepresented and mainly unknown. My history degree equipped me to begin the task of documenting the history and contribution of Arab and Muslim communities in the Greater Milwaukee area in different arenas. Soon after graduation, I founded a non-profit organization, the Arab and Muslim Women Research and Resource Institute (AMWRRI) and began to document the community’s history through  oral history. Currently I serve as the President of AMWRRI’s Board of Directors and direct the organization’s Oral History Project. The narratives gathered through the oral history project are disseminated in different ways to overcome stereotypes and misconceptions attached to this minority group. For example, one of the organization’smus1 effective and successful projects was “Beyond the Veil: Dress, Identity and Tradition Through the Eyes of the Muslim and Arab Women of Greater Milwaukee,” an exhibit held at the Milwaukee Public Museum from May to September of 2014. The exhibit caps a four-year AMWRRI project dedicated to showing how the attitudes toward cultural clothing among the Muslim and Arab women of the Greater Milwaukee area go beyond stereotypes. The project also gave women from these communities an opportunity to speak about their experiences. (For more on the AMWRRI and the cultural clothing exhibit, go to

I also work a tenure-track assistant professor of Arabic literature, culture, and history in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Marquette. My teaching has informed my research on immigrant communities and culture, where I have been the principle instructor and curriculum developer for the Arabic language program. I am planning to continue my work of documenting Arab and Muslim women’s history in the United States and abroad and to take an active role in public events and exhibits in order to increase awareness and minimize misconception about this marginalized underrepresented group.

Paul Beck (PhD, 1996), reflects on the myriad changes that have occurred since he entered academia.

Many years have passed since I received my PhD from Marquette. I am now entering my twenty-seventh year as a professor at Wbeckisconsin Lutheran College. I believe that the academic training in history that I received from Marquette has served me well. During my professional career the main thing I have noticed is the changes that have occurred in the liberal arts and in the study of history. More colleges seem to be moving away from the liberal arts and finding less value in programs like history. It seems that every year our department must justify its reason to exist. Our department was once four full-time professors and now we are down to 2.75.

I have noticed a shift in the type of history courses offered. We seem to be losing an obeck bookverall view of history and instead focusing more on race, class and gender. Where once one could expect to find courses on the American Civil War or French Revolution now are offered courses like Jewish Women in 19th Century Syria or 20th Century class relations in New Mexico. We are tending to teach what we find interesting but not necessarily what students need to truly understand the past. I believe there is a place for numerous different types of course but we must also understand that American students know less and less about history and need a solid foundation of informational courses.

Enaya Othman is an assistant professor of Arabic in Marquette. Her most recent publication is “Building a community Among Early Arab Immigrants in Milwaukee, 1890s -1960s,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 96 (Summer 2013).   She is currently revising her book manuscript, called Dogma of Womanhood and Feminism among American Missionaries and Palestinian Between 1880s and 1940s.

Paul Beck earned his PhD in 1996. In addition to teaching at Wisconsin Lutheran, he has published four books: Soldiers, Settlers and Sioux: Fort Ridgely and the Settlement of the Minnesota River Valley; The First Sioux War: The Grattan Fight and Blue Water Creek, 1854-1856; Inkpaduta: Dakota Leader, and Columns of Vengeance: Soldiers, Sioux, and The Punitive Expeditions, 1863-1864.

Platypi, Hermophrodites, and Intellectual Women: The Humanities’ Relationship with Oddities.

Last month graduate students from the English and History departments at Marquette University organized a day-long conference called “Oddities? : Exploring the Dynamics of Human Constructions.” Jennifer Hockenbery Dragseth of Mount Mary University delivered the keynote address, which celebrated the critical ways in which the humanities have led human beings to wonder and to organize the world around them.

While many academics from Plato to Martha Nussbaum have penned arguments for the need and good of the humanities, there is still a resistance in some segments of society to these arguments. Perhaps the problem is that the humanities is considered (and often considers itself) to be a study of human cultures, thoughts, constructs—about language games and hegemonies and matrixes. And thus, some believe that the humanities are not about the real world.  There is a problem that many outside and inside of profile_hockenbery-jenniferthe humanities believe these disciplines cannot help those in the “real” world because the humanities deal only with the “idea.” Yet, in defense of itself, the humanities can argue for its relevance by proclaiming how it treats oddities.

Oddities are things, structures, ideas and people that defy our fundamental categories of thought in ways that distress us.  Oddities are those things that cause us so much trouble that we must cry out in order to name them as “freaks.” We cry out because the oddity is a problem that threatens our very structures of thought and all that we have built on the foundations of those structures. Oddities are terrifying and anxiety provoking because they show us that something is wrong in our thinking.

The platypus so bewildered English scientists that they proclaimed it a hoax for 100 years. Today the platypus continues to force zoologists to re-imagine the taxonomy of Carl Linnaeus. The platypus is an oddity. The body of the hermaphrodite has challenged the way culture categorizes the male and the female. Such a body troubles our deeply gendered worldview. It is an oddity. The existence of the mind of an intellectual woman has historically plunged individual women into despair and caused revolution in societies. It is still, too often, seen as an oddity.

The problem with oddities is that by being odd they crack our structures of thought. They cause despair because we recognize how little we know, how little we may ever know. In some ways, they undermine the possibility of progress and any argument about the merit of the academy.

Yet, here is my thesis. While oddities perplex society and cause despair about the relevance of trying to know anything with clarity, these very same oddities bear witness to the power of study, observing, thinking, analyzing, and discussing. The oddity that troubles our categories gives hope that there can be knowledge beyond cultural categories.

Yes, the humanities have worked hard to bring a humility to the academy and the public about the limits of human knowledge and the power of bias and hegemony. Yet, the humanities can still attest to the need for continued thinking by pointing to research on an oddity and to the cultural openness that results from such research. Research and writing on an oddity breaks the cultural contact lenses. It unstrings the web of belief. The reality of the oddity shines through the broken shards of the fallen hegemony. Importantly, the academy and the public must work together to find a new paradigm and social structure that acknowledges the oddity. Our communal knowledge grows and our society progresses.

Yes, growth in knowledge can change social and political reality as well. A little over one hundred years ago a group of School Sisters of Notre Dame decided to build a college for women in Wisconsin. While the United States did not grant women full citizenship or equal political and economic rights, the SSND believed that intellectual women were real. They asserted that women had the same rights and responsibilities to seek higher education as men. Moreover, they asserted the possibility of intellectual working class women as well. This view challenged dominant strains of thought about the potential of women and continues to challenge the dominant strains of thought about the potential of poor women. But the reality of the intellectual women that have graduated from Mount Mary University continues to tear at those strains of thought. And society slowly reforms.

This is my point. The oddity is unsettling. The first time we see an oddity, we often consider it a hoax. We try to stuff the oddity in a category, or we try to eliminate the oddity. But sometimes we do not succeed in snuffing out the oddness or the oddity. Rather sometimes we come to a new relationship with our old way of thinking, a new humility about our ways of seeing, and a new pride in our ability to see.

Thus, oddities suggest that the post-structuralists may be a little bit wrong. It may imply that any epistemology that considers the mind to be radically independent of matter may be wrong. Perhaps, we need an epistemology that considers the mind to be part of a relationship with matter itself and with Truth itself. But that is another topic for another paper.

For now, I only want to make the claim that we can see the platypus not just as fine pelt to put on the global market but as an oddity that simultaneously humbles zoo-ology and exalts the merit of study. Also, we see the intersex person, not just as sideshow object to exploit, but as a person whose needs require we re-think our medical practices, Olympic policies, and marriage laws. Finally, we recognize intellectual women, not just as workers in a global economy but as fellow members of the academy striving for progress in human knowledge. These changes, this progress, is due, at least in part, to the work of scholars in the humanities who have brought the platypus, the hermaphrodite and the intellectual woman into focus. In short, studying an oddity inspires us to keep looking to see what else we can see. Every oddity that perplexes also whispers: keep studying, keep writing, keep reading, keep thinking. There is so much more to know.

In conclusion, I recently attended a lecture by the Reverend Dr. Willie Jennings, a theologian at Duke Divinity School, on the role of the academic in public life.   Jennings, the author of the acclaimed The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, said the role of the intellectual in public life is to “exhibit an openness to being changed and to invite others to this openness to being changed. To embody a posture, and to model this posture of openness.” (Willie James Jennings. “The Public Vocation of the Religious Scholar.” Upper Midwest Regional Meeting at Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. April 17.) One way to model such openness is to look for and embrace the oddity that defies our previous structures.

Jennifer Hockenbery Dragseth is professor of Philosophy at Mount Mary University. She is editor of The Devil’s Whore: Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran Tradition (2011) and author of the forthcoming Thinking Woman: A Philosophical Exploration into the Quandary of Gender. For more, go to

Alumni@Work: Catching Up With Our Former Students, Part III

Rick Herrera (PhD, 1998) describes the several phases of his unusual career.

My path has been a bit of an adventure. In 1998, I’d hoped to land a position at a liberal arts college that focused on teaching—I wasn’t all that interested in researching or writing. I began at Texas Lutheran University in 1999, where, because of my previous experience as an army officer and sales representative, I was soon made chair as an untenured assistant professor. The old saw about leading academics and herding cats is true. After two years I moved on to Mount Union College, where I was tenured and later served as director of honors until December 2005. I grew tired of devoting most of my time to teaching; I’d discovered that I wanted to research and write after all and needed a bit of a career change. In January 2006, I left Mount Union and took a job on the Staff Ride Team, Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff CollHerrera Seminar 2 at Vicksburgege (CGSC), at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. (Staff rides are used to teach leadership and decision making through historical and terrain analysis while walking and discussing the course of a battle on the actual terrain.) Over the next six years I travelled to over one hundred battlefields in the United States, France, Italy, and the Netherlands where, I researched, designed, and led staff rides for audiences ranging from presidential appointees to generals and soldiers down through noncommissioned officers. I enjoyed staff rides, but wanted to return to an academic environment. In January 2012, I accepted a position at the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), CGSC, where I teach graduate-level courses on operational art to field-grade officers from the army, sister services, allied forces, and other US government agencies. For more on the SAMS, go to

I’m now back in the classroom as an associate professor of military history, where I’m enjoying teaching some of the very brightest officers in the armed forces and getting the opportunity to research and write. I’ve published several articles and chapters9781479819942_Full over the past few years. My first book, For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861, was recently published by New York University Press. I’m now busy researching and writing my second book, an examination of an important, but little studies aspect of the Valley Forge encampment. Recently, I spent February 2015 at the David Library of the American Revolution as a residential research fellow and have since been awarded a Society of the Cincinnati Scholars’ Grant, both in support of the ongoing book project. This summer I’ll be in England and Scotland doing further research. In addition to teaching and writing, I’ve also been active in the Society for Military History where I serve as a trustee of the organization. I’m also a consultant for the Leadership Institute, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Seventeen years ago, I had no idea that my career would follow the path that it has. I’m glad it did.

Ricardo A. Herrera receivHerrera SMH 2015ed his PhD from MU in 1998; his dissertation was “Guarantors of Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier and the Military Ethos of Republicanism, 1775-1861,” directed by Robert P. Hay. A revised version of that dissertation has recently been published by NYU Press as For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861.

Alumni@Work: Catching Up With Our Former Students, Part II

Today, Patrick Jung (PhD, 1997), offers some insights into a non-traditional route into academia and advice about being flexible while moving into the profession.

I received my Ph.D. in United States history in 1997, but I did not move into the professoriate immediately.  For the first five years, I workpatrickJunged full time in the non-profit sector and as an adjunct professor at UW-Milwaukee, Lakeland College, Mount Senario College, and Marquette University’s College of Professional Studies.  In every case, I taught evening and weekend courses in various adult degree programs.  I found this to be particularly rewarding because I maintained my connection to academe, and I was able to supplement the income of my full-time job with income earned from part-time teaching.  I also taught a wide variety of courses: United States history, history of Western civilization, global history, history of the Middle East, women’s history, Wisconsin history, American Indian history, and American government.   Thus, when I applied for my current position in 2003, I was a good fit because MSOE requires that I teach a variety of history courses (in fact, I am the only history professor at MSOE).

My position at MSOE also requires that I teach more than one discipline.  While in graduate school, one of my minor fields was cultural anthropology, and I teach all the cultural anthropology courses at MSOE.  In fact, one of the anthropology courses I teach is Latin American culture, a course that requires a one-week trip to Central America during spring break.  I have made five trips to Central America and have visited Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama.  One of the best things about teaching at an engineering school (and being the only professor with backgrounds in history and anthropology) is that I teach a broad number of courses in both disciplines.  I was also tapped to teach art history, and this afforded me an opportunity to write a book on the German artist Erich Mercker, whose paintings grace our art museum on campus (the Grohmann Museum).  I have made nine trips Europe in the past five years, most of which have been to Munich, Germany.  I have also visited Berlin, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Nuremberg, Göttingen, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Dublin.  In fact, I was even tasked to teach a political science course on European government and the European Union for this reason.

Here are few lessons I want to pass on to current graduate students.  First, be flexible.  A doctoral degree in history prepares you for more than working in academe.  I found the non-profit sector to be rewarding, challenging, and satisfying.  Second, working as an adjunct gave me a significant amount of classroom experience that made me a more attractive candidate when I did decide to move into the academy.  Third, working at a smaller institution that does not have a history department has provided jung bookme with life-changing experiences that I never would have had if I would have gone to a larger institution and worked in a traditional history department (and where I probably would have taught only United States history).  I have seen much of the world, and other opportunities are now on the horizon.

Pat Jung received his PhD from MU in 1997. He is the author of The Black Hawk War of 1832 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007) and co-author of The Nicolet Corrigenda: New France Revisited (Arlington Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 2009). He won the Oscar Werwath Distinguished Teacher Award from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2010.

Alumni@Work: Catching Up With Our Former Students

Editor’s note: When we launched Historians@Work three years ago, we announced our intention to focus on “the journeys the community of historians at Marquette take in the name of research, broadly defined. Some of these will be actual, physical journeys, to archives, to conferences, to places strange and familiar to our readers. Others will be intellectual, as we learn about our world and ourselves through our research.” Since then, in about five dozen separate blog entries, we have written about “the places and ideas and yes, adventures, that we encounter scrounging through archives, networking with our colleagues, and even at our computers.”

Over the next several weeks we’ll turn H@W over to our former PhD students, who will provide updates on their own journeys since leaving Marquette. Some have remained in Milwaukee, working at local universities; others have traveled the world. My email invited them to write “a paragraph or two about your experiences, including frustrations, discoveries, altered viewpoints—anything that you would like to say about your careers,” including “the ways your expectations have or haven’t meshed with reality, about how your perspectives on teaching, researching, and the profession have been confirmed or altered.” Some provided chatty updates on themselves, others reflected on the ways that the profession had changed during their careers. We’re proud of all of them! Jim Marten, Editor

 First up is David Pigott, Brigham Young University-Idaho, who writes,

I’ve been quite active, not necessarily in the publishing realm, but in teaching and various projects. I am very grateful for the FullSizeRender4counsel given to me by Dr. Ruff to choose a non-western minor field, and to Philip Naylor and Dr. Gardinier.  It not only made me more marketable and enabled me to land a very good tenure-track job but also has become my main teaching field, and has allowed me to help build a new undergraduate program in international studies at my university. As a result, I teach in both the history department and  in the international studies dept.  I love to travel and this job fits perfectly with this preference—indeed, I’m writing to you from Kathmandu where I’m taking a few days off after doing research in rural Rajasthan, where I’m comparing solid fuel consumption to that of sub-Saharan Africa, all with the intention of presenting a “solution” to deforestation and the use of invasive species (such as water hyacinth) as a fuel source to Muhammad Yunus in May, and then again at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in November.  It’s a bit more complicated than that but that’s the most recent project I’ve been on, as well as teaching a 3-3-3 (yes, three semesters/year) load.

Before the water hyacinth project I put together a documentary film about the Baganda people of Uganda and the challenges globalization poses to the survival of their culture and future as a tribal identity.  It’s called Cultured Pearl: Voices of Uganda (click here for the IMDb entry for Cultured Pearl).

I’ve also taught at Mutesa I RFullSizeRenderoyal University in Kampala where I lived with my family. I also run a small charity dedicated to providing school fees to Ugandan children, called Enough to Spare (check out its website at We also help fund an orphanage in Gulu.

Most recently, as of last week, I was informed that I’ll be awarded Professor of the Year at Brigham Young University-Idaho where I’ve been teaching for the last 14 years. I credit Marquette, and specifically Julius Ruff and Philip Naylor for preparing me for the rigors of a teaching university.  I try to stay passionate about what I teach.

Most importantly, and I know this is long, my wife and four children have been able to enjoy many of the travels this career has offered me.

David Pigott received his PhD from MU in 2001; his dissertation was Autonomy and Antagonism in Early Modern France: The Protestants of Bergerac, 1545-1685,” which he wrote under the direction of Julius Ruff.

Dear Author: Editing an Academic Journal

By Jim Marten and Phil Naylor

Between us we’ve published a couple of dozen books (monographs, edited collections, historical dictionaries), a few score chapters and articles, and well over a hundred book reviews. This has required us to talk, email, and (this dates us) exchange actual paper letters with editors, assistant editors, copy editors, and editorial assistants. (Side note: it seems important that “letter” is only a noun, but “email” is both a noun and a verb. Hmmm.) We both go back far enough that our first books and articles were typed several times, and returned to us on somewhat greasy galleys and page proofs before seeing print. Today, however, it is not unusual for articles and even books to be sent back and forth between authors and editors without ever being printed out.

In other words, when it comes to academic publishing, we’ve pretty much seen it all.

But about two years ago, after a combined sixty years of dealing with publishers and editors, we’re now on the other side of the (virtual) desk. In 2013 we each took on a new job: Jim became editor of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, which is published by John Hopkins University Press three timejhcy covers a year on behalf of the Society of the History of Children and Youth. Jim also acts as book review editor. At the same time, Phil became co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of North African Studies (JNAS), which is published five times a year by Taylor & Francis (T&F) for the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS). In addition, he serves as publications officer on the AIMS executive committee, which, among other things, monitors AIMS research centers in Tunis and Oran.

We’re responsible for soliciting articles, arranging outside reviewers, copyediting, and assembling the issues. One challenge we share is mastering the website ScholarOne, the online mechanism for submitting manuscripts, communicating with outside reviewers and authors, collecting forms, and doing all the paperwork associated with running a journal. Submissions are accepted by automated emails and we simply fill out pre-written templates accepting or rejecting (or sometFNAShing in between) manuscripts, with reviewers’ comments automatically inserted into the email. It’s kind of like magic, although the structure of the site isn’t instinctive and eventually you have to get the final version of articles in WORD put them together old school (although, in fact, JHUP asks Jim to submit the completed issues via a share point site (through the dramatic sounding FTPsurfer!), and two sets of page proofs are sent back to me on the same site.

There are still parts of ScholarOne that remain a mystery; Jim hasn’t quite figured out how to delete articles that have already been published. JNAS was actually just adopting ScholarOne when Phil signed on. Although the transition has been challenging for his editors, authors, and reviewers, now with two year under his belt, Phil feels much more comfortable using the system.


The Managing Editor’s Dashboard for the JHCY’s ScholarOne account.

But there are also more substantive challenges and responsibilities. For Jim, whose research is rooted in the Civil War era in particular and the histories of children and youth in the United States in general, the main challenge is that the journal receives submissions from scholars all over the world and about children living in ancient Rome, colonial India, and modern Europe, Latin America, and Asia. For Phil, the fact that JNAS is an interdisciplinary journal is a strength as well as a problem. Occasionally articles are quite esoteric (e.g., microeconomic sector studies of a Maghribi country). Although Phil took economics courses in grad school, he readily confesses that he lacks expertise to evaluate an article filled with econometric equations and theories! Compounding the situation, there are relatively few others who can review these topics as they relate to North Africa. Social science subjects often dominate the submissions.

Both journals are published exclusively in English, but draw readers and authors from around the world, which presents its own set of editorial problems. We frequently end up publishing pieces by scholars writing in their second or third (or even fourth in Phil’s case!) language. This sometimes to leads to rejections, as the English isn’t polished enough to appear in a professional journal; equally often, we simply have to take more time working with authors to get their research into publishable form.

The same can occasionally be said for scholars writing in their first language! For instance, we sometimes have to work overtime to help authors from the social sciences impart a greater historical sensibility into the articles and to get them to produce citations in the correct format. At times the authors are graduate students or brand new faculty members trying to get their first publications. They require a different kind of encouragement (especially if we reject their submissions, when the “revise and resubmit” option can become a powerful way to indicate that changes are necessary while at the same time providing a bit of a push to improve their work).

This latter responsibility is the best part of being a journal editor for Jim. The membership of the Society for the History of Children and Youth skews quite young, and he’s spent much of his time as a founder and long-time officer of the SHCY working with graduate students and newly minted PhDs, and it’s his role as a mentor that Jim finds most rewarding in his role as editor of the JHCY.

Phil’s favorite part of editing a journal is making contact with scholars who share his interest in promoting North African studies. This has resulted in new friendships while reinforcing others. Furthermore, by reviewing articles and the occasional books, Phil has kept not only up to date, but also poised at the cutting edge of North African scholarship. Having conscientious and collegial co-editors upon whom Phil can rely upon regarding articles and reviews is especially beneficial and reassuring. He considers being an editor of JNAS a highlight of his professional career.

Phil Naylor teaches courses on the Middle East, North Africa, Byzantium, and Rock and Roll.  His most recent book is the revised edition of North Africa: A History from Antiquity to the Present.  Jim Marten is chair of the department and the outgoing president of the Society for the  History of Children and Youth; his most recent book is America’s Corporal: James Tanner in War and Peace.


Building a Collection: Fr. Paul Prucha and the Bureau of Catholic Indian Mission Records

Or: How his Leadership—plus Serendipity and “Star Alignment”—led to Marquette becoming a national center for Catholic Collections about Native Americans

By Mark G. Thiel

MU archivist and guest blogger Mark G. Thiel tells the story of how the Marquette library archives obtained its largest and most-used collection with the help of a powerhouse researcher, an idiosyncratic philanthropist, and savvy librarians.

First-time visitors to the Marquette University Department of Special Collections and University Archives (MUA) discover that its third-floor reading room in the Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., Library is named in honor of the Rev. Francis Paul Prucha, S.J., Professor Emeritus of the Department of History. His prolific research delved into many aspects of U.S. policy about Native Americans, and is best known for The Great Father, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and is regarded as a classic among professional historians. His reading room portrait oversees a bookshelf filled with his many publications, because more than anyone else, his archival research and advocacy affected the development of the department’s special collections.

In 1970, after several years of extensive research at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Father Prucha addressed a conference there titled, “Research in the Administration of Public Policy.” He admitted that he found its vast holdings on federal administration of American Indian policy intimidating. But he reiterated the importance of thorough and extensive research and pointed out the need for more of it in many areas, including education, which was the realm of his own study. In conclusion he said, “It would take many researchers, each one digging in some special section of the files, before these riches are properly exploited. Yet books and articles of a purportedly scholarly nature keep appearing on Indian history matters, written by men who have seldom if ever set foot in the National Archives.”

At that time, his research focused on the political and legal battles between the Catholic Church, the Protestant churches, and the federal government over education, which would culminate in his illuminating book, The Churches and the Indian Schools, 1888-1912. Besides the National Archives, his commitment to thorough research required visits to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, which held the records of the Indian Rights Association, a Protestant organization, and the records of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions (BCIM) in Washington, which since 1874 has represented the Catholic Church in its business with the federal government with respect to Native Americans.

In about 1970, the BCIM Executive Director, Rev. John Tennelly, S.S., granted Fr. Prucha access to its records. Fr. Tennelly led him to a side room with four four-drawer cabinets holding about 30 cubic feet of records, which were its central files with correspondence of church leaders and federal officials that was essential to his research. Fr. Prucha was impressed with the quality of the records, but also their poor condition. Unknown to him, there were not four, but over forty such cabinets with over 425 cubic feet of mission correspondence, photography, reports, and rare publications dispersed from the basement to the attic above the third floor.

Nonetheless, Fr. Prucha correctly recognized that these brittle records were valuable and needed archival custody. By 1972, he began to share his concerns about them with historians, archivists, and administrators at Marquette and The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington. In so doing, he further noted that the BCIM director was aged and in poor health, the adjacent George Washington University coveted the property, and while he believed that Marquette would be a good place for the records, his main interest was to make sure that they would be preserved somewhere with access for scholars.

Desiring growth for the university’s special collections, Marquette archivists and administrators soon heeded Fr. Prucha’s concern, and they did so with his misconception that the BCIM holdings comprised just four file cabinets of church-state correspondence. During the next three years, they formulated a plan to justify and fund their acquisition. They believed that these records would fit well for three reasons: Fr. Prucha’s distinguished scholarship on the history federal Indian policy, Marquette’s Jesuit identity and namesake, and its previous acquisition of national collections on Catholic social action, a number of which focused on the concerns of ethnic minorities. Also, they had reason to hope that de Rancé, Inc., which funded several Catholic Indian missions, might provide the necessary funding.

Founded by its president, Harry G. John, Sr., Milwaukee-based de Rancé, Inc., was then the largest religiously-oriented foundation in the United States. John was an enigmatic past family president of Miller Brewing who financed de Rancé grants with first the dividends and later the proceeds of the sale of his 47 percent or 1,900 shares of Miller’s stock. Overall, his funding decisions were highly motivated by his religious concerns, which Marquette Jesuits had apparently influenced.

During the fall of 1975, Marquette archivists developed and submitted an ambitious proposal to de Rancé, which became the first of two that it funded with grants totaling $85,000. It called for a national Catholic Indian mission archives project with multiple goals, one of which was to enable Marquette to become the BCIM’s archival repository. That goal called for funds to acquire, preserve, and microfilm the BCIM records with Dr. Herman J. Viola named as project consultant. Dr. Viola was a Marquette History alumni and protégé of Fr. Prucha’s, who since 1972, had served as a curator at the Smithsonian in Washington.

From his Smithsonian post and on Marquette’s behalf, Dr. Viola wrote to the BCIM’s Board of Directors about the de Rancé grants during the first half of 1976. They included John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia, the chair, and John Cardinal Cooke of New York and Archbishop William Borders of Baltimore, the members. In addition, Marquette’s President, the Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., recruited Milwaukee Archbishop William E. Cousins, who in writing, formally presented Marquette’s offer to Cardinal Krol.

On July 1, Msgr. Paul A. Lenz succeeded Fr. Tennelly as executive director of BCIM, and over the next three weeks, he carefully reviewed all related correspondence to and from Cardinal Krol. On July 22, Msgr. Lenz wrote to Cardinal Krol with his assessment, prefacing it by acknowledging that, while the final decision rested with the board, he believed “the records should be given to Marquette University at the earliest date possible.” Viola warned Msgr. Lenz that the de Rancé grants were a rare and “golden opportunity” that would expire in a year. Then he suggested to Marquette Archivist Fr. Robert Callen, S.J., that Marquette invite Msgr. Lenz to visit. He came to Milwaukee within the month. Following tours of campus and the archives – then located in the basement of the Memorial Library– a group including Fr. Callen, Vice President Rev. Michael G. Morrison, S.J., and Dr. Viola, explained Marquette’s evolving vision. Through de Rancé, they had the necessary financing to preserve the records and they planned to coordinate with Marquette’s recruitment efforts to attract more Native American students and develop a study center focusing on Native – Catholic history. Furthermore, they noted that in a previous collaborative archives project, CUA had failed to perform as promised. In conclusion, Msgr. Lenz assured them that his recommendation would be that Marquette receive the records.

The board met to make its final determination in May. Despite some concerns about whether or not Marquette was “truly Catholic,” Msgr. Lenz’s views prevailed. Within six weeks an agreement had been negotiated and signed designating Marquette as the repository (although BCIM retained ownership), contingent upon ongoing de Rancé funding. The agreement also required Marquette to microfilm the records and supply a copy of them to Catholic University. Furthermore, if Marquette ever ceased to be a Catholic and Jesuit university, the BCIM retained the right to take back the records.

The records were relocated to Milwaukee in mid-July 1977. Under Dr. Viola’s supervision, professional movers moved ten tons of records in a sixty-five-foot semitrailer from the BCIM to Memorial Library. In his report, Dr. Viola noted, “Aside from being dusty and dirty… the BCIM collection does not pose major preservation problems… The major problem is the high acid content of the paper. Many of the letters have turned dark and are exceedingly brittle.”

MeanwhilFr Prucha & Msgr Lenz @ BCIMe, Fr. Prucha finished the research and hunt for illustrations for his manuscript on Native American education and submitted it to the University of Nebraska Press. It was published in November, 1979.

Fr. Prucha presented a copy of the The Churches and the Indian Schools to Msgr. Lenz while they stood in front of the BCIM building (the vegetation in the picture on the left suggests the meeting took place in the spring of 1980). By this time, the Marquette Archives had nearly finished preserving the original records and photography. It had refiled the materials with archival quality boxes and folders and had adjusted the overall arrangement scheme, and then in progress was its selective microfilming of textual records and associated rare periodicals along with the creation of additional written descriptions, most of which are now online.

The collections preserved at Marquette continues to grow. With BCIM support, the Marquette Archives has become a magnet for more Native American, primarily Native Catholic, collections. Now numbering over fifty unique collections, they comprise over 900 cubic feet of holdings with descriptive inventories on the Raynor Memorial Libraries’ website, A large number of them have been digitized and can be examined at

Mark Thiel is archivist at Raynor Memorial Libraries, where he is responsible for Acquisition, administration and reference service of special collections and digital initiatives pertaining to Catholic Native America and Catholic Broadcasting. He drew this essay from documents found in the collections he describes. Fr. Francis Paul Prucha, SJ, was a long-time professor at Marquette and the author many books on government policy toward Native Americans; find out more on his Wikipedia page:!

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