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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Re-Introducing Edwin Deakin

In 2014, the Archive-Library began a conservation project to restore the series of mission paintings by Edwin Deakin. Two years later, the 19thcentury paintings have been completed!  On the night of September 24th at 6:30 pm in the Bonaventure Hall at Old Mission Santa Barbara, SBMAL will be hosting a lecture given by Frank Goss on Edwin Deakin. A reception and viewing of the newly restored paintings will follow.  We hope that you will be able join us for this unveiling!

In the meantime, watch this video that Scott Haskins and the team from Fine Arts Conservation Laboratories put together to learn more about the conservation process!

Thank you again to all of our sponsors! Without their support, this project would not be possible! For more information about the history of the Deakin paintings and how they came to the Archive-Library, you can go to these previous blog posts:

{Deakin Conservation}

Seating in the Hall is limited so to guarantee a seat RSVP to or (805) 682-4713 ext. 152

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Our Trip to …A Becoming Place

By Rachel Hatcher

Assistant Archivist, Province of Saint Barbara

Monica and Rachel outside the new Provincial Archive in Albuquerque, NM.

Monica and Rachel outside the new Provincial Archive in Albuquerque, NM.

“Wherever I find our Lord’s most holy names and written words in unbecoming places, I want to gather them up and I beg that they be gathered up and placed in a becoming place.” -St. Francis of Assisi, Testament

On the evening of Saturday, March 19, 2016, Monica Orozco (Director of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library) and I were treated to hearing these words of St. Francis spoken in four different languages from the north, south, east, and west corners of the conference space at “. . . A Becoming Place,” the brand new Provincial Archive and Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Four friars of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Province stood around those gathered at the dedication of the new archive and recited in Latin, Spanish, Navajo, and English the verse that inspired the name of the new center.

When we arrived on Friday, Monica and I were able to tour around the new archive with Provincial Archivist Cathy Pierce, OFS; Minister Provincial Fr. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM; and members of the Board of the Academy of American Franciscan History. With state of the art compact shelving, a colorful reading room, and framed photographs that pay tribute to past archivists of the Guadalupe Province, the new archive is a beautiful home for the treasures in their collection.

Keynote speaker David Hurst Thomas, PhD, Curator of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.

Keynote speaker David Hurst Thomas, PhD, Curator of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Inaugural Symposium began Friday night with David Hurst Thomas, PhD, Curator of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, who gave a talk on his work on Franciscan Missions sites of the Southeast and Southwest and the connection with the Franciscan Order in the United States. Archaeology, he posited, provides researchers with another type of “archive.” Saturday’s symposium featured a variety of presentations from archivists and scholars. Monica and I each presented talks on the collections housed within the Provincial Archive of the Province of Saint Barbara and the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. During the course of the day there was time for reflection, questions, and responses that gave the Symposium a comfortable, relaxed, yet scholarly feel. We were able to chat about issues such as the nature of working with artifacts related to native peoples and the difficulties in digitization. It was encouraging for me to hear stories from friars and lay staff about the ways they solved problems or collaborated together in their work.

After an energetic Palm Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and a feast with everyone in attendance, the weekend came to a close. The hospitality of the friars, festive dedication ceremony, and the new Provincial Archive have left Monica and me dreaming of taking a trip back to Albuquerque in the near future.

(Editor’s Note: Rachel Hatcher has served as Assistant Provincial Archivist for the Province of Saint Barbara since May 2014)

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