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.
Creighton Berry (left) and History PhD student Damien Strecker
Continuing our Summer Postcards series, PhD student Damien Strecker tells us about an interview he conducted as part of his research on the history of St. Augustine Church in the South Bronx with Creighton Berry, a former member of its congregation. Read Damien’s account of his illuminating trip below. Continue reading
Professor Magda Teter introduces school children in Harlem to the history of the book
So far our series of summer postcards has highlighted how Fordham historians used the summer months to visit archives, go to conferences, and work on projects. In this installment, Professor Magda Teter tells us about how she used her summer time to bring her knowledge and teaching skills to her community, visiting an elementary school in Harlem and teaching two classes for 6-9 year olds about the history of the book. As Professor Teter writes: “Books are more than text, they are also objects. How did book come to have title pages? Beautiful colors and eye-catching binding. The two sessions covered the history of the book, from the ancient scrolls to modern books. The book, as we know it, is a historical artifact that changed over long centuries in format and content. We looked at Jewish and Christian books printed and in manuscript, on parchment scrolls and on paper. Students touched books that were printed hundreds of years ago, even in the 1460s. Technological advancements, like the introduction of paper and the moveable type, and local contexts have influenced the way information was preserved and accessed. We looked at books as an object and examined the influence of the material aspect of the book for the transmission and access to information. The young students touched real history.”
Seventeenth Century Judgment of the Jurors of Romney Marsh Concerning the Sale of Soil for Sea-Wall
Huntington Library Battle Abbey Collections 56 A
Photograph by Tobias Hrynick
Our latest postcard comes courtesy of PhD student Tobias Hrynick:
This July, I was able to attend the Mellon Summer Institute in English Paleography at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The Institute consisted of a month of afternoon course-work on reading early modern handwriting, lead by Dr. Heather Wolfe, of the Folger Library. In the mornings, I was able to explore the Huntington’s extensive collection of manorial records of Battle Abbey, a Benedictine foundation in Sussex. The research opportunities and training provided by the Institute have contributed to my ongoing research project on the drainage and agricultural exploitation of south-eastern English marshes, since the Battle Abbey collection at the Huntington contains extensive documentation of Battle’s lands on Pevensey Marsh with occasional reference to other marshes in the region, and because an understanding of early modern hands is a key tool in unraveling the early modern scholarship through which our understanding of medieval marshes has been mediated.
Texts from Battle Abbey reveal a number of peculiar features of wetland charters. Notable is the occasional use of the slightly larger Flemish acre to measure wetland holdings, suggestive of influence from the Low Countries in medieval English wetland exploitation. Also interesting is the careful attention given to responsibilities toward marsh drainage when wetlands were being transferred – one gift of marsh to Battle Abbey specified not only that it would be the monks who were responsible for maintaining the drainage ditch on the edge of the property, but even onto which side of the ditch they were to cast dirt when they dredged it.
Munger Research Center, Huntington Library
Photograph by Tobias Hrynick