- The Collection
- Mandate and History
- The Nouwen Archive Letter Project
- Nouwen Biography
- Contact Us
- Tab 6
The Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives
The Archives consists of more than 50 linear metres of material created and accumulated by Henri Nouwen in his lifetime.
The Archives includes drafts of manuscripts, more than 16 000 incoming letters, over 200 sound and video recordings, lecture notes and handouts, adminstrative files from L'Arche Daybreak, business correspondence and other material related to Nouwen's publishers, photographs, research material collected by Nouwen on Anton T. Boisen, Seward Hiltner, Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Merton, and the Circus, as well as a complete set of his published books (including translations), and a comprehensive collection of articles published by Nouwen between 1957 and 1996.
There are 15 series in the Henri Nouwen archives:
Finding Guide and Publications
Henri Nouwen Society
the Nouwen Archive Letter Project
Included in the Research Collection are those letters and materials collected as a result of the Nouwen Archive Letter Project. Together, the Archives and Research Collection serve to promose the legacy of Nouwen's writing, teaching and life.
The Research Collection includes materials relating to Henri Nouwen which were collected by the Archivist and other individuals with an interest in maintaining Nouwen’s legacy.
There are nine series in the Research Collection:
- Material by Nouwen
- Material about Nouwen
- Materials mentioning Nouwen
- Nouwen events, promotional material, programs and souvenirs
- Publisher materials (ie. catalogues and advertisements featuring books by Nouwen)
- Reference files
- Audiovisual material
Disclaimer: Access to the photographic images in these displays, and the technical capacity to download them, does not imply permission for re-use. Permission to publish or otherwise use these images, and any accompanying text, must first be obtained in writing from Archival and Manuscript Collections.
See our Guidelines for Using the Archival and Manuscript Collections for more information.
Mandate of the Archives
The Archives exists to:
- Collect and preserve archival material created by and about Henri Nouwen.
- Collect and maintain a library of books, articles, interviews and other published material by and about Henri Nouwen, as well as reference material, artifacts and memorabilia that documents the life and work of Henri Nouwen.
- Arrange and describe materials according to archival principles and make them accessible to the general public on a regular basis, unless access is restricted.
- Provide adequate and appropriate conditions for the storage, protection, and preservation of archival material.
- Provide regular reference services to individuals, organizations, or other groups interested in the activities and holdings of the Archives.
- Provide educational and outreach programs whenever possible to increase public awareness and knowledge of the life and work of Henri Nouwen.
History of the Archives
The material in the Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection was donated to the John M. Kelly Library at the University of St Michael's College on January 19, 2000 by the Literary Executrix of Nouwen's estate, Sue Mosteller, C.S.J.. The donation included more than 124 linear feet of material from L'Arche Daybreak as well as 29 linear feet of material originally deposited by Nouwen at the Yale Divinity Library. The Archives and Research Collection was officially opened on September 21, 2000.
The Nouwen Archive Letter Project
A good letter can change the day for someone in pain … can create a smile and bring joy to the heart.
Henri Nouwen, The Genesee Diary
Henri's letter to you was a great gift. Join others in sharing that gift with future generations.
Henri Nouwen had a strong conviction about the value of reaching out to people through letters. This was not a conviction he simply wrote about, talked about or taught about.
This was a conviction that he dedicated hours to each day. He believed that a good letter could really change someone's day and life. Not only that, he believed that a letter written to one person, could be helpful in the life of another person. On May 26, 1988, in a letter to a very close friend of his, Henri writes "Meanwhile, I have shared your letters with a few of my intimate friends who are struggling with similar questions as you are, and for whom your letters are extremely significant."
For these important reasons, the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust and the Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection have been working to gather together the letters that Henri wrote, with the intent of sharing them current and future generations.
Of course, Henri had many friends, colleagues, acquaintances and fans. It was quite a task just to identify whom we should contact! If you are reading this today, and you have letters, postcards, photos, manuscripts or other material related to Henri please be in touch! You are important, and we want to hear from you.
The response from those whom we have personally reached thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. People have graciously shared fond memories, humorous stories, and life changing moments that they experienced with Henri. Just about everyone who had material to share did so enthusiastically. To date we have received over two thousand new items into the archive, the majority of which are letters written by Henri.
Yet we recognize that there is still more work to be done. We patiently await those who are searching for their letters from Henri, and we are committed to reaching out to those with whom we have not yet made contact. Perhaps you'll be hearing from us soon!
Naturally, many of you will want to see the letters that have been collected. For now, we can only display a small highlight of the letters in the PDF booklets posted at the right hand side of this page. More booklets will be posted over time.
An in depth exploration of the letters is possible for all who are doing work on Henri's legacy. This may include researchers, scholars, presenters, writers etc. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to place a research request, and schedule a date to visit Henri's Archive.
Sincere gratitude to all who have so generously participated in the Letter Project thus far and we look forward to connecting with many others.
The Nouwen Archive Letter Project General Inquiries:
Ms. Brynn Lawrence
The Nouwen Archive Letter Project
John M. Kelly Library
113 St. Joseph St.
Toronto, ON M5S 1J4
416-926-1300 ext 3609
- Nouwen Archive Letter Project Brochure
- Learn more about Henri Nouwen's Life and Archive: Read the Archive's online brochure
How to Donate
- Download the Deed of Gift Agreement
- Deed of Gift Agreement FAQs
- Share your reflections on Henri's influence and message.
- Join the Henri Nouwen Society's online book discussions
- Be inspired by the next generation
A 5 min video interview with Gabriella Silano.
- Video of Henri Nouwen, 1980.Donated by Barbara Stetson.
Henri J.M. Nouwen - A Biographical Timeline
Born in the Netherlands, Nouwen was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1957. He taught in the areas of pastoral psychology, spirituality, and ministry at a number of institutions of higher learning including the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic Theological Institute in Utrecht, Yale Divinity School, and Harvard Divinity School.
He wrote extensively in his areas of expertise, authoring hundreds of articles, books, newsletters, pamphlets and papers.The last ten years of his life were spent in Toronto ministering at L'Arche Daybreak, a community of people with developmental disabilities.
1932 January 24 Born in Nijkerk, Holland.
1957 Ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the Archdiocese of Utrecht, the Netherlands.
1957-1964 Studies in psychology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Doctorandus degree received.
1964-1966 Fellow in the program for Religion and Psychiatry at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.
Visiting professor in the Department of Psychology
at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
Taught: Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Personality Theory, Psychology of Religion, Pastoral Psychology.
1968-1970 Staff member of the Amsterdam Joint Pastoral
Institute and member of the faculty of the Catholic
Theological Institute in Utrecht.
Taught: Pastoral Psychology, Christian Spirituality.
Supervised: pastoral work of candidates for the pastoral ministry.
1970-1971 Advanced degree studies in theology at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Doctorandus degree received.
1971-1981 Associate Professor in Pastoral Theology at
Yale Divinity School, Yale University, New Haven,
Taught: 1) Courses on Ministry: General Introductory course - Discipline and Discipleship, Ministry to the Elderly, Ministry to Prisoners, Ministry in Non-Religious Institutions, Ministry as Hospitality, The Ministry of Vincent van Gogh, and 2) Courses on Spirituality: General course on the Relationship between Ministry and Spirituality, The History of Christian Spirituality, The Life and Works of Thomas Merton, On Prayer.
Received tenure in 1974.
Made Full Professor in Pastoral Theology in 1977.
1976 Fellow at the Ecumenical Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota.
1978 Scholar in residence at the North American College in Rome.
1979 Six month stay at the Abbey of the Genesee, Piffard, New York.
1981-1982 Six month stay in South America.
1983 January to May Lenz Lecturer, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1983-1985 July Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1985-1986 Nine month stay with L'Arche Community for the handicapped, France.
1986-1996 Priest in residence at L'Arche Daybreak, near Toronto, Canada.
1996 September 21 Died of a heart attack in the Netherlands.
Donating Material to the Archives
The Archives actively pursues and accepts donation of material by or about Henri Nouwen. Letters, notes, audio and videocassettes, transcripts of talks, manuscripts and other material would be of great interest and value to the Archives. Please contact the Archivist to discuss your interest further. See the Henri Nouwen Letter Project for more detailed information about our ongoing efforts to collect and preserve material by Nouwen.
Archival and Manuscript Collections