News – Fall 2005

Last September we received from Judge Paul V. Niemeyer the papers of his father, conservative political philosopher Gerhart Niemeyer.  Physically the collection amounts to 23 linear feet, or enough to occupy three four-drawer filing cabinets.  Gerhart Niemeyer was born in 1907 and left his native Germany when the Nazis came to power.  He came to the United States in 1937, taught at Princeton, worked for the State Department, and served on the faculty of the National War College. He became a professor of government at the University of Notre Dame starting in 1955 and continued his association with our university until he died in 1997.  He wrote about political theory, ideology, communism, totalitarianism, the modern world, and Christianity. He served as an advisor to Barry Goldwater, as a member of the Republican National Committee’s Task Force on Foreign Policy, and as chairman of the Board of Foreign Scholarships in the Reagan administration.

The Niemeyer Papers contain correspondence (1965-1997) representing his professional and personal interactions; subject files, including files on Heller, Solzhenitsyn, Voegelin, and Wittfogel; publications, lectures, research notes and drafts.  They document many facets of his life and career, including, as one might suppose, his service with the National War College, his teaching at Notre Dame, and his analysis of modern totalitarianism and communism.  But they also show his strong interest in early music, in such instruments as the recorder and the viola da gamba, and his performances as an amateur musician.  And they contain evidence of his spiritual development and the process by which he became first an Episcopalian deacon (1973), then an Episcopalian priest (1980), and finally, at the end of his life, a convert to Roman Catholicism.  The collection also includes some of his awards, plaques and medals, and 18 cassette audio tapes, including lectures and one interview.

In December we received from Jay Dolan by way of John McGreevy three reels of microfilm containing the diaries of Rev. Richard L. Burtsell, 1865-1912.  Burtsell, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and defender of the rights of priests, was born in 1840 and died in 1912.  He belonged to a circle of progressive priests whom some bishops regarded as trouble-makers. In 1890 Archbishop Corrigan removed Burtsell as pastor of the church he had built in New York City and sent him upstate. In 1978 Nelson J. Callahan published an edition of the first three years of the Burtsell diaries, but this microfilm contains the unpublished years as well.