A Glimpse into the Rare Books Collection: “Polar Scenes” by Joachim Campe

By Anastasia Heaton


Polar Scenes, by Joachim Campe. From the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library.

While diving into the Rare Books Collection here at the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive Library (SBMAL), I was stunned to find a considerable amount of late 18th and early 19th-century travel literature. These works detail Western Europeans’ travels to diverse and far-flung regions such as Peru, Siberia, and the Ryuku Islands of Japan. At Westmont College, I am currently pursuing a degree in History, focusing on Russia and Central Asia. As a born-and-raised Californian, I harbor a love for local history. When I first started my internship at SBMAL, however, I did not anticipate much overlap between my academic specialization and SBMAL’s collections of local historical documents.

I was elated then to find a bridge between my two historical loves within the Rare Books Collection. Among these travelogues I discovered at SBMAL, I became interested in a small, intriguing children’s book with a lengthy title: Polar scenes, exhibited in the voyages of Heemskirk and Borenz to the northern regions, and in the adventures of four Russian sailors at the Island of Spitzbergen. This Enlightenment-era children’s book was written in 1785 by German author Joachim Campe. SBMAL’s edition is an 1822 English translation: Campe’s work enjoyed significantly more popularity in Britain than in his native Saxony. Campe is best known for his earlier book, Robinson Crusoe the Younger, an adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s widely known Robinson Crusoe. In fact, historian Matt Erlin notes that Karl Marx references Campe’s version of Robinson Crusoe instead of Defoe’s original in his Das Kapital![1]


A sneak peek into SBMAL’s Rare Books Collection. From the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library.

As I dug deeper into the history of this work, I discovered that this book is the first piece of Western travel literature expressly written for children. Additionally, this 1822 edition was printed in the midst of the rise of consumerism, especially in the literary world. Historian Susanne Zantop claims that book production alone doubled its output in thirty years from 1770 – 1800.[2] With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, travel became far more attainable as it became cheaper and more convenient, increasing the sheer number of travelogue authors. And so, while the majority of Germans still could not travel physically  to the Arctic Circle or Central Asia, they could gain imaginary access to these regions intellectually, while also being entertained. Nowhere was this more prominent than in the German states, where the genre dominated popular literature.[3] According to Birgit Tautz, the German states were especially inclined to favor the travelogue genre because, unlike their Western European counterparts, they were not a colonial superpower at the time and had to find creative ways to assert their validity as a presence in Western Europe and avoid a German inferiority complex. Tautz believes that the immense popularity of travelogues within Germany cultivated a distinct German national identity by making them the “intellectual gatekeepers” of the world – granting them some sense of hegemony and validating their existence as a unified nation, foreshadowing the unification of Germany a century later.[4] This tiny volume, therefore embodies the dramatically shifting landscapes of economies and power structures which took the world by storm in the early 19th century.


SBMAL’s copy of Polar Scenes. From the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library.

This book contains two separate stories, both works of fiction, though the included detailed illustrations suggest otherwise. The first story, The Voyages of Heemskirk and Borenz, describes the harrowing adventures of four Dutch explorers as they explore the islands of the Arctic Circle. The second story, The Adventures of four Russian Sailors, chronicles the survival of four Russian sailors stranded on the fictional island of Nova Zembla, a play on the Northern archipelago Novaya Zemlya (‘New World’ in Russian).






Illustration of polar bear attacking the wayward Dutch explorers – although, to me, it resembles a sort of sea-lion from Polar Scenes, Joachim Campe (page 21), in the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library.

The author, Joachim Campe, is the most famous member of the Philanthropinism movement. This movement of German Enlightenment thinkers strove to instill morality into children through widespread reform education and literature. Campe was particularly interested in encouraging children to apply their imaginations to practical use — after they were appropriately inspired by his books, of course. You can see this heavy emphasis on cultivating morality in children in the pages of his novels:

The wind had prevented them from catching anything, but these good people, seeing their want, threw them a codfish, without receiving any payment for it. Thus you see, my young readers, thanks to all-merciful Providence, there are to be found under every zone, and in all states, people to whom the laws of humanity are sacred.[5]

Despite Campe’s hope in the moral value of his work, most literary historians believe Polar Scenes was most loved abroad as an adventure book and not for its parental potential. In the case of SBMAL’s specific copy, however, that perhaps may not be the case. Little is known about how this book found its way into our collections, but written on the inside cover is a note, dated March 31, 1826. It states: “Miss Emily Warren, as a reward from her father for attending the Sunday school.”  At least one parent thought this book would be an acceptable reward for moral behavior! Whether or not Miss Emily Warren took its lessons to heart, however, is another question.

                For me, the most interesting aspect of this book is how transnational it is. As a scholar of Russian history, I find this book to be a valuable glimpse into Western Europeans’ perception of Russians in the late 18th century. Throughout the book, Campe uses language to highlight the distinctions between the German-speaking Dutch protagonists of the story and the Russian-speaking sailors. Outside of these linguistic differences, however, there is not much different culturally between the two groups. Campe frequently notes the ‘familiarity’ of Russian customs and humanizes the sailors in ways he does not extend to his depictions of the Sámi indigenous peoples in the text. I don’t think such a congenial understanding of Russians and Russian culture would have been the case a few decades earlier. By the mid-18th century, German-Russian relations significantly improved and Peter the Great’s Westernization campaign sought to align aristocratic Russian culture more closely with that of its Western European counterparts.

Scholars may find value in the place of Polar Scenes in the German or British literary canons and its representation of Western European travel during the 18th century. Intellectual historians interested in education during the Enlightenment could explore its definitions of moral behavior. Still others could apply a postcolonial lens to Campe’s problematic depictions of the Sámi indigenous people of the Arctic Circle. Since starting my internship several weeks ago, I continue to be amazed by the incredible variety of the contents of SBMAL’s collections and the organization’s dedication to preserving history and making it accessible. Joachim Campe’s Polar Scenes is just one feature of this remarkable unique collection – I would highly encourage you to explore what’s within the collections here at SBMAL!

Interested in exploring the collections further? Visit: https://www.sbmal.org/research

Interested in helping support SBMAL’s initiatives to preserve the history of Santa Barbara and beyond? Visit: https://www.sbmal.org/giving.


This could be you! From the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library.               

[1] Erlin, Matt. “Book Fetish: Joachim Heinrich Campe and the Commodification of Literature.” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 42, no. 4 (2006): 355–76. https://doi.org/10.3138/seminar.42.4.seminar-v42-4-357.


[2] Zantop, Susanne. Colonial Fantasies: Conquest, Family, and Nation in Precolonial Germany, 1770–1870. Durham: Duke UP, 1997. 104.

[3] Nebgen, Christoph. “Economic and Confessional Relationships in 18th Century Travel Writing from the Rhine.” Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung 42, no. 2 (160) (2017): 158-69. Accessed February 6, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44234957.

[4] Tautz, Birgit. “Cutting, Pasting, Fabricating: Late 18th-Century Travelogues and Their German Translators between Legitimacy and Imaginary Nations. The German Quarterly, Vol. 79, No.2 (Spring 2006), p. 171.

[5] Polar Scenes, 109 – 110.


Blamires, David. “A World of Discovery: Joachim Heinrich Campe.” In Telling Tales: The Impact of Germany on English Children’s Books 1780-1918, 23-38. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Open Book Publishers, 2009. Accessed January 27, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vjt8c.5.

Blamires, David. Telling Tales : The Impact of Germany on English Children’s Books 1780-1918. Cambridge: Open Book, 2009. 2009. Accessed January 27, 2020.

Claudia Nitschke. 2016. “Joachim Heinrich Campe’s Robinson the Younger: Universal Moral Foundations and Intercultural Relations.” Humanities 5 (2). doi:10.3390/h5020045.

Erlin, Matt. “Book Fetish: Joachim Heinrich Campe and the Commodification of Literature.” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 42, no. 4 (2006): 355–76. https://doi.org/10.3138/seminar.42.4.seminar-v42-4-355.

Koerrenz, Ralf, “Campe, Joachim Heinrich”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 27 January 2020 http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1877-5888_rpp_SIM_02720.

Zantop, Susanne. Colonial Fantasies: Conquest, Family, and Nation in Precolonial Germany, 1770–1870. Durham: Duke UP, 1997.


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The Life of Christ On Copper Paintings Restoration

by Anastasia Heaton

Thanks to a generous grant from the California Missions Foundation, the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library has been able to move forward with restoration treatment for five unique paintings from its collections. These five artworks depict scenes from the life of Christ and were executed in oils on copper panels. Conservators at Fine Art Conservation Laboratories are performing the restoration on these middle nineteenth-century paintings. The varnish and paint have become significantly discolored over the past 150 or so years. Correcting this discoloration will form the bulk of the restorative process.


The five paintings of the life of Christ on copper before being picked up by the conservators. From the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library (SBMAL).

While the paintings currently appear a little dim and gloomy, the restoration will allow  them to be experienced as they were originally intended to be – bright and clear! In addition to restoring the paintings themselves, Fine Arts Conservation Laboratories will be giving the currently anachronistic frame a face-lift, refinishing it with more period-appropriate metal leafing.

Little is known about the origins of these paintings. The artist did not leave a signature and few records exist to provide clues about their provenance. Dating techniques place their composition around the mid-nineteenth century. Additionally, oil on copper has been a staple of the European painting tradition since the Middle Ages. Copper does not mold or degrade the same way wood or canvas does, making it an excellent medium to ensure a painting’s longevity. Often artists would rub the copper plating with garlic juice as a kind of primer.  Well-known masters such as Rembrandt and Saraceni preferred copper bases, and to this day oil on copper remains a popular choice among contemporary artists.


Painting of Christ meeting the Samaritan woman at the well before restoration. From the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library (SBMAL).

The five paintings, arranged in the frame into the shape of a cross, depict scenes from the life of Christ. These scenes consist of Jesus and St Peter walking on water, Jesus and his disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, the Samaritan woman meeting Christ at the well, the Triumphal Entry, and the woman anointing Jesus’s feet. I am particularly interested in the highly relational nature of each of these paintings. Unlike many other devotional artworks, in these five paintings Jesus is always depicted among a large group of followers. Perhaps the artist was reflecting on the communal nature of the life of the Christ or the dedication of the devout?

My personal favorite of the paintings depicts Christ entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This painting teems with life. Citizens of Jerusalem cluster around Christ on his donkey, kneeling before him, laying down robes to form a path, and clutching palm branches. The scene is expansive, capturing the immense crowd in the foreground while also capturing the gates of the city and the seaside in the background. Furthermore, the composition of this painting and its sense of scale are especially impressive. The painter manages to include dozens of figures despite such a small surface area, while still delineating Christ from the crowd. My favorite part of the scene is definitely the two toddlers, who waddle up to Christ with palm branches in their pudgy fingers, bringing a sense of childlike joy and enthusiasm to the scene. The deep reds and blues of the cloaks in this painting hint at the triumphant atmosphere that will come to light once the restoration is completed.


Painting of the Triumphal Entry, before restoration. From the collections of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library (SBMAL).

We look forward to sharing with you the outcomes of the restoration of these very remarkable paintings! SBMAL is very grateful for the generosity of the California Missions Foundation and the excellent work of Fine Art Conservation Laboratories.

Other SBMAL paintings that have undergone restoration include the twenty two paintings of the California Missions by Edwin Deakin and the 18th century “St. Joseph with Christ Child.” Learn about how you can support future SBMAL art restoration projects like this one here: https://www.sbmal.org/conservation.

Interested in learning more about our partners?

Visit Fine Art Conservation Laboratories at https://www.fineartconservationlab.com/.

Visit California Missions Foundation at http://californiamissionsfoundation.org/

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St. Barbara Province Chaplains During WWII

by Kelsey Blois

I’ve always had this fascination with the intersection of local and global history, with hearing how international events affected my local community. It provides the kind of personal perspective that just isn’t available in a textbook, making even the most faraway events seem real. Some of my favorite documents in the Archive include these kinds of personal testimonies into well-known historical events. So when I came across a document that mentioned friars from Santa Barbara who served as chaplains during WWII, I couldn’t help but dig deeper, looking for their stories.


Fr. Fidelis Wieland, OFM (far right), during WWII


At least eleven Franciscan friars from the Santa Barbara Province served as chaplains during World War II. In a circular written in 1942, Minister Provincial of the St. Barbara Province, Fr. Martin Knauff, OFM, commended those friars for their loyalty and dedication, encouraging others to follow in their footsteps. He emphasized the fact that, much like the lay people around them, the Franciscan brothers were compelled to use their time and skills for the cause of the Allied Forces. While their vows prevented them from acting as soldiers, they could and did serve their country through prayer and ministry.

Many of the friars felt compelled to serve after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Fr. Eric O’Brien, OFM, who had family living in Hawaii, applied to become a chaplain just days after the attack, and his appeal was followed by many others. It often took a few months for the chaplains to receive their first assignment, which is why Fr. Benedict Henderson, OFM—who would later go on to earn a Distinguished Service Medal in France for extraordinary heroism—wasn’t ordered to Ft. Sam Houston in Texas until April 1942. Fr. Richard Hodge, OFM, was ordered to the San Diego Naval Base around the same time, on April 18, 1942.


Friar photos_005

Fr. Albert Braun, OFM, in uniform

While overseas, chaplains often faced the same dangers as the soldiers they ministered to, but were also challenged to maintain a sense of faith and hope, cultivating positivity while surrounded by darkness. Few did this better than Fr. Albert Braun, OFM, who continued to minister throughout his three years in a Japanese prison camp. Braun served as a chaplain during both World Wars, continuing on in the service after WWI as a reserve officer. He was called to duty again in 1940, spending some time at Ft. Houston before leaving for the Philippines in April 1941. In 1942, during the Allied surrender of Corregidor, Braun was taken prisoner by the Japanese, eventually moving from the Philippines to Camp Omori in Tokyo. He risked his life in order to provide the Mass to the soldiers in the camp, receiving wine and bread from sources like Lulu Reyes, the head of Chaplains’ Aid in the Philippines, and Fr. Buttenbruch, who was caught aiding Braun and was subsequently imprisoned. Braun was alWeiland_IMG_011so occasionally aided by Catholic Japanese officers. Camp Omori was liberated August 29, 1945, and Braun returned home to California shortly after.


Unfortunately, not every friar was able to return home. Fr. Fidelis M. Wieland, OFM, originally from San Francisco, lost his life in service. He had been serving on the USS Comfort, a hospital ship that was evacuating wounded soldiers from Okinawa, when it was hit by a Japanese plane. He later died in the hospital as a result of burns. Mass was held in honor of Wieland at St. Boniface Church in San Francisco on May 14, 1945, a few days after the news of his death reached the US.

These friars exemplified Franciscan values through their service, aiding society while fostering peace and justice. To this day, they serve as examples of loyalty and faith to us all, an integral part of Santa Barbara history.

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St. Joseph Painting Restoration

Thanks to a very generous grant from the California Missions Foundation the Archive-Library recently restored a “St. Joseph with Christ Child” painting from the collection. The painting of Saint Joseph dates from 18th or early 19th century and is signed “Ayala” which before restoration was almost illegible. The painting is an excellent representation of the art produced in the studios of Mexico City during the colonial period which made their way to the churches of California Missions. It might be the work of Ignacio Ayala (1786-1856) or Joseph Antonio de Ayala who was active in Mexico in the 18th century.


Before Restoration


Part way through restoration


After Restoration


During restoration Fine Art Conservation Laboratory addressed previous attempts to clean the painting which left smears and an uneven appearance. The surface is abraded in some areas due to over-cleaning. There are also punctures in the canvas which needed to be repaired. During the project FACL discovered two more flowers at the top of St. Joseph’s staff which had been wrapped around the backside. The painting was put into a custom time-period-appropriate frame as the final touch and has now returned to SBMAL, safe for generations to come.

Thank you to the Fine Art Conservation Laboratories for their work and to the California Missions Foundation for all of their support! Learn more about how you can support SBMAL art restoration here www.sbmal.org/giving


Interested in learning more about our partners ?

Visit Fine Art Conservation Laboratories at  http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/

Visit California Missions Foundation at californiamissionsfoundation.org/

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Close-up of the (Art) Collection

Thanks to a very generous donation the Archive-Library is now home to this beautiful painting of Madonna and Child also known as Our Lady of the Rosary of Pomata.

IMG_5309The oil painting is 17th or 18th century from the Cuzco School in Peru. The Cuzco School was made up of European and indigenous painters in from the 16th to 19th century.  The artists often drew upon both groups’ cultural and artistic backgrounds to create the mestizo-baroque style you see here.  The artist, like many others from this time, created this piece anonymously, as art was often defined as communal.

Before coming to SBMAL, the Cuzco painting went through a year of conservation and transformation at the Fine Art Conservation Laboratories in Santa Barbara. Below, you will see the picture of the face of the Madonna before restoration and all of the work that it took to return the painting to its’ original beauty.


Close-up of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pomata before restoration

Thank you to our donor and to FACL! We appreciate all of your support and this wonderful addition to our Art Collection. To learn more about FACL’s work visit: fineartconservationlab.com/)

If you are interested in partnering with SBMAL on future art conservation projects visit: www.sbmal.org/giving/ or contact research@sbmal.org.


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Norman Neuerburg

Hello! My name is Kelsey Blois and I’m an intern at the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. I’m also a sophomore at Westmont College, working toward a double major in History and Spanish. This internship serves as my first foray into the wild word of archiving. It’s been an incredible learning experience, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to help preserve the history of the Santa Barbara community.

I’ve spent most of my time at the Archive-Library working on the Norman Neuerburg Collection, which includes photos, papers, research, and correspondence from art historian and mission enthusiast Norman Neuerburg.

Norman with Rhino

Neuerburg in front of Zoology Building, Harvard, CT

Neuerburg was born in Universal City, California on February 3, 1926. From a young age, his love for the California missions was obvious. At the age of 15, he was already providing tours of Mission San Fernando. Some of my favorite documents housed within the Archive include a poem written by a young Neuerburg that describes in detail the “musky odor” of Mission San Juan Capistrano, as well as an old autograph book of Neuerburg’s that is filled with the signatures of various friars who populated the missions.

That passion for history would lead Neuerburg into a life of scholarship. After serving in Italy during WWII, he graduated from UCLA with a degree in Greek before going on to earn his master’s and doctorate in art history from NYU. In 1955, he won the Rome Prize Fellowship, which allowed him to research fine arts and classical studies at the Rome Academy. He became an educator, teaching art history in such esteemed universities as the University of California Berkeley, USC, UCLA, Indiana University and the California Institute of the Arts. In addition, Neuerburg worked as a historical consultant to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historical Preservation, and the Getty Villa.


norman poem

“San Juan Capistrano” by Neuerburg

Throughout his life, Neuerburg traveled widely, capturing through the lens of his camera countless edifices and landscapes. Most of his voyages found him in Mexico or Spain, and he also spent a considerable amount of time traveling up and down the California coast, forever researching and photographing the architectural masterpieces he fell in love with as a child.

When Neuerburg died in December 1997, his memorial service was held at Mission San Fernando, a fitting end for a life dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Missions.

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Sketches of an Artist, J. Franklin Waldo


Mission Santa Barbara by John Franklin Waldo, C. 1884

John Franklin Waldo was born in 1835 in Vermont.  Early in his life he worked as a carriage and sign painter and then, in 1871, studied at the Chicago Academy of Design.  While largely supporting himself as a fresco painter, Waldo continued to paint western landscapes in watercolor and oil. He studied for a short time under Henry Chapman Ford and visited the Santa Barbara artist several times. It may have been during one of these trips that he filled the sketchbook featured here.  He exhibited at the National Academy of Design, in the American Watercolor Society’s exhibit. In 1920, Waldo passed away in Los Angeles.



Santa Barbara Bay by John Franklin Waldo, C. 1884

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Digital Incunabula or, Br. Jeff loves Alliteration


What to do with a floppy disk full of important archival materials.

By Br. Jeff Durham, OFM

Many of the patrons at the Santa Barbara Mission-Archive Library assume that all of the things we do involve old documents, manuscripts and photos. However, there is a slow trickle of items which I refer to as digital incunabula. What I mean by this term are those artifacts from the dawn of the information age.

Two items that came across my desk in the past few weeks were floppy disks (with a minuscule 1.44 MB of memory) and an ancient (at least in the sense of Moore’s Law*) laptop. From the standpoint of an information scientist, this provided a great opportunity to work with computer technology that was still working on mechanical principles (listen to those hard drives and floppy drives spinning)! This was also a good way to prepare the archive-library for what is sure to go from a technological trickle to a digital deluge as more of the material that arrives at the facility will be “born digital”*. With the success of this project, we are well on our way to bridging the digital divide.

*Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.

*The term born-digital refers to materials that originate in a digital form.


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Q and A with Br. Jeff


Br. Jeff hard at work on the Oblasser Collection.


Br. Jeff hard at work on the finding guide for the Oblasser Collection.

Br. Jeff comes to the Archive-Library each week day morning, comedic coffee cup in hand, to continue his work with the Oblasser Collection. What follows is part of an an extra brief Q&A with Br. Jeff to find out how the project is coming along.


SBMAL: Can you tell us about the collection you are working on?

Br. Jeff: My main project here at the archives currently is the Oblasser collection. This collection which is made up largely through data compiled by the Franciscan friar, Bonaventure Oblasser, also known as the “Apostle to the Papagos (Tohono O’odham)”.

The collection which we have concerning Oblasser is quite large and somewhat unwieldy. My concentration in library and information science has been information organization, analysis, and retrieval. As such, it was felt that having me to develop an organizational schema and taxonomy would be a good place for me to start in the archive-library.

SBMAL: How has this project informed your understanding of the World of Library Science?

Br. Jeff: This experience is affording me a wonderful dual opportunity. The first part is that it allows me to flesh out the epic figures of Southwest Franciscan history, such as the friars Bonaventure Oblasser and Al Braun. While I have heard these names throughout my friar life, the best way to understand someone is through the words, so going through their correspondence has afforded me this way of personalizing their stories to me. The second opportunity is to be part of the team here at the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library to develop and improve the findability and searchability resource for Southwest Franciscan studies more accessible to future researchers.


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Welcome, Br. Jeff!


Br. Jeff Durham working through boxes of correspondence in the Oblasser Collection. 

My name is Jeff, I am originally from North Carolina, but have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1998. I currently live in Santa Barbara, California.

I am a friar in the Order of Friars Minor, which was founded over 800 years ago by St. Francis of Assisi (which is the reason we are more popularly known as Franciscan Friars).

I have been a bibliophile since I was old enough to read. I have a BA in Philosophy, an MA in Theology, and an MA in Ministry. While in graduate school for theology, I was the assistant to the director of the Academy of American Franciscan History, a research institute affiliated with the Franciscan School of Theology. I was able to gain a greater appreciation of archives and the importance of archival research and libraries on the historical process.

Some of my past assignments have been with our communications department and being a chaplain at some of the sponsored ministries of the Province of St. Barbara in San Francisco, California. I am currently working on completing a MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) with an emphasis in data analytics and data-driven decision making. As a friar of the Saint Barbara Province, one of my goals is to make use of the vast amount of data that we have collected during our long history in the West and to extrapolate new data models out of the information.


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