What do historians do over spring break? Dr. Elizabeth Penry, Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, traveled to Argentina for research and sent us this postcard from Buenos Aires.
With the support of a generous Faculty Research Grant from Fordham University, I have begun work on a new project on indigenous literacy practices in the colonial Andes (16th – 18th centuries). Over the spring break, I traveled to Buenos Aires to work in the Archivo General de la Nación. The geographic focus of my work is that region of the Andes that became the modern nation of Bolivia. Part of the Inca empire at the time of the Spanish invasion, it formed the southern region of the Viceroyalty of Peru for over 200 years until it was incorporated into the new Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, headquartered in Buenos Aires, at the end of the 18th century.
A 1768 Complaint about Book Burning
Finding information about indigenous literacy is a little like hunting for a needle in a haystack; there isn’t any division in any colonial archive dedicated to the topic. But in addition to 250 years of detailed records of royal orders, the Argentine national archives are particularly rich with census and economic records for the region, and sometimes surprising information turns up. Orders coming from Spain demanded that schools be established in every indigenous town and that native Andeans should learn Spanish, but they rarely provided monetary support. However, I found tax records that list funds paid for indigenous village school teachers. Even more interesting is how many indigenous people were labeled ‘indios ladinos’ the term Spaniards used for natives who were fluent in Spanish language and culture. Indios ladinos were identified as town criers, translators, church sacristans, and frequently were responsible for writing legal petitions for their communities. In one unusual case that I found, an indio ladino accused a priest of being complicit in the burning of books. Although he claimed not know the titles of the destroyed books, this native Andean was horrified by the sight and filed a complaint with officials. All these small details will allow me to create a detailed composite picture of indigenous practices related to literacy in the colonial period.
A 1592 order for a new census following a measles epidemic
A 1611 Census Report
Besides archival work, I met with colleagues at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. The university has a very active program in Andean history and it was great to compare research notes with fellow scholars. Argentine colleagues made my research much easier by sharing their detailed knowledge, as well as catalog records of local archives. Of course, just being in Buenos Aires is wonderful. One of the wealthiest countries in the world at the turn of the 20th century, Argentina, like the US, is a nation of immigrants. In particular, large numbers of Italians (like the family of Pope Francis) came to Buenos Aires, influencing the cuisine and the language. After a day of archival research, it’s hard to choose between a parrillada (grilled meats) or ñoquis (gnocchis) prepared Roman style to go with un buen Malbec. One of the great joys of working on the colonial Andes is the opportunity to work in archives in many different countries, and to have colleagues literally around the globe.
Entrance to Archivo General de la Nación in Beunos Aires
History major and Mannion Society member Marisa Bohm is spending the spring semester in London. Marisa has written to us to share her experiences of her junior semester abroad:
From left to right: Dr. Matt McGowan, Martin Nelson, and Bryan Whitchurch.
The History Department’s own blog contributor and MA student, Martin Nelson, spent the beginning of his summer helping the Fordham Classics Department guide a study tour that explored ancient Roman sites in Naples, Ostia, Herculaneum, Pompeii, and, of course, Rome. As part of the blog’s Postcard series, he had this to say about the experience… Continue reading
The History Department received this great postcard from PhD student Rachel Podd, who spent part of the summer at archaeology field school. Here’s what she had to say:
Note: For ethical and legal reasons, I cannot post photographs of the human remains excavated during this summer. Accordingly, the photographs within this blog post are from the Giecz website.
Skull with a coin between its teeth.
Over the course of three weeks in July, due in part to generous grants from Fordham, I was able to take part in an archaeological dig and field school run by Ohio State University in Giecz (pronounced “Getch”), Poland. Though modern Giecz is quite small, with a population of around 150 people and an hour walk to the nearest train station, it was once a center of profound political importance to the Piast dynasty, the first historical dynasty of Poland. In 966, Prince Mieszko I was baptized as a Christian, possibly at Ostrów Lednicki, and accordingly, the Piast stronghold at Giecz, which was likely constructed during the eighth century was expanded to include a chapel, though construction was never completed. Continue reading
History major Katherine DeFonzo in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
Earlier this summer, History major Katherine DeFonzo reached out to faculty member Christopher Dietrich about the work she was doing at her internship at the Archives Center at the American Museum of National History (a part of the Smithsonian Institution). Katherine wrote: Continue reading
We received a postcard from PhD student Jeffrey Doolittle updating us on his year as a Fordham University GSAS Research Fellow:
A medievalist at work: Jeff’s workplace in the reading room at the abbey of Montecassino
Throughout this past spring, I have been happily ensconced in Italy conducting research for my dissertation. I am currently exploring the medical culture of the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino in the ninth-century through a study of one of its products, Archivio dell’Abbazia, Codex 69, a project that requires an extensive codicological and paleographical analysis of a small corpus of manuscripts written in the Beneventan script. Thanks to a GSAS Research Fellowship, I was able to visit a number of archives in Northern Europe last fall; this spring and summer, I spent most of my time in Cassino researching at the Archivio dell’Abbazia of Montecassino under the patient guidance of the archivist, Don Mariano Dell’Omo. St. Benedict’s famous monastery, of course, is located at the top of a mountain, and the archive is also only open in the morning when buses do not run. So I woke up especially early and hiked up every day, a trip that ordinarily took about 1.5 hours. Fortunately, and in the spirit of Benedictine moderation, I did not have to walk both ways; there was a bus to come back down.
The “Chiostro del Bramante”- one of the two cloisters of the abbey of Montecassino
When not at the Archive, I was able to make use of the resources of the “Laboratorio per lo studio del libro antico” at Università degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale and its incredible digital library of medieval manuscripts, and I remain especially thankful for the expertise and kind assistance of the curators of the laboratory, Drs. Lidia Buono, Eugenia Russo and Stella Migliorino. Using Cassino as a base, I have also been able to visit the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence), the Biblioteca Casanatense (Rome), the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City) and the Biblioteca Nazionale in Naples.
Since July 1, I have moved on to the United Kingdom where I will deliver a paper at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds. I will also visit a few additional archives in the UK and Ireland including the Hunter Library in Glasgow, before returning home by the end of July.
Thanks for the postcard, Jeff. We look forward to seeing you when you’re back and hearing more about your research and archival discoveries.
Jeffrey taking a break from measuring rulings outside of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg.
With funding provided by a GSAS Research Fellowship, graduate student Jeffrey Doolittle has been able to spend six and a half weeks this autumn at five research libraries in Europe working with several Beneventan manuscripts that will be integral to his dissertation.
Jeffrey’s project explores the medical monastic culture of the early medieval Benedictine abbey of Montecassino through a study of one of its products, Archivio dell’Abbazia, cod. 69, a compendious manuscript produced in the late ninth century. Part of his project entails an extensive codicological and paleographical analysis of Montecassino 69 in comparison with other early medieval manuscripts written in the Beneventan script. So, in order to collect the data for this portion of his dissertation, Jeffrey has traveled to study manuscripts in the collections of the Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden (the Netherlands), Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Copenhagen, Denmark), and the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany). And over the next few weeks, he will make two more stops at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich and finally the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, all before the holiday break! Through the course of this journey, he will study a total of eleven manuscripts. So far, the trip has been extraordinarily productive and rewarding, and Jeffrey has enjoyed conversations with the wonderfully friendly librarians and specialists, including Erik Petersen in Copenhagen and Stefan Knoch in Bamberg. Still, he looks forward to returning home to his family for the holidays, and preparing for another research trip to Italy in the spring!
The view of the Bamberger Dom from the entrance to the archives where Jeffrey is standing in the picture above.
The Ruins at Bury St. Edmunds
Thanks to the History Department’s Leahey fellowship for summer travel, graduate student and medievalist Louisa Foroughi was able to spend five weeks in June and July visiting archives in England and Scotland (with a very brief Welsh detour!). Louisa’s dissertation focuses on the origins and social significance of the English “yeomen,” a group situated at the mid-point of the social scale, who made their first appearance in the early fifteenth century and quickly rose to prominence under the Tudors. She spent ten days in London and Chester tracking down a yeomen family from a small town near Chester, during which time she snuck in a quick jaunt across the Welsh border, a mere 30 minute walk from the city walls! She spent a further two weeks gathering probate records in local record offices in Norwich, Bury St. Edmunds, and Ipswich, all favorite haunts. She is now in possession of c. 377 wills and inventories produced by husbandmen, yeomen, and gentlemen from 1348-1538, one of the three main document times upon which her dissertation will be based. While in England, Louisa also presented a paper on Archbishops’ Registers at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds and attended the Anglo-American Seminar with Professor Maryanne Kowaleski. She is happy to be back in the US, and looks forward to finally being able to answer the question, “what is a yeomen?”
Left to right: Clare King’oo (University of Connecticut ) Susan Felch (Calvin College) Jamie H. Ferguson (University of Houston), and Susan Wabuda (Fordham)
Below, Professor Susan Wabuda discusses the Sixteenth Century Society Conference held in Bruges this summer, as well as her adventures in the historic Belgian city, in the latest installment of our Summer Postcards series. Read on to learn more about the city’s intellectual and aesthetic delights. Continue reading
Louisa Foroughi confers with Professor Bruce Campbell
From July 8th to 11th Fordham Professor Maryanne Kowaleski and graduate student Louisa Foroughi attended the XIIth Annual Anglo-American Seminar on the Medieval Economy and Society, held this year in Stirling, Scotland. The Anglo-American Seminar is a long-standing gathering of some of the most distinguished economic and social historians in England and America. This year’s presentations drew attention to new directions in research, while its panel discussion featured lively debate about the relationship between government policy and England’s economy in the late middle ages. Professor Kowaleski closed the conference with a fascinating paper on the political participation and consciousness of mariners in late medieval England, part of her larger work on England’s seamen and coastal communities. A highlight of this year’s Seminar was a (rainy!) walking tour of the town of Stirling, all the way from the castle at the top of the hill to the fish stews at its base, led by Professor Richard Oram, who also opened the conference with an excellent talk on the environmental history of Scotland and its neglected relationship to political history. Louisa especially benefited from the opportunity to meet and talk over her thesis with experts in their field, such as Prof. Bruce Campbell, who was also honored with the presentation of a festschrift at the conference.