Please note: Records recently transferred from L'Arche Daybreak are being processed (i.e. records are being brought under control through arrangement and description) and are not open to the public at this time.
Fonds Level Description
- FONDS NUMBER/TITLE: 1. Henri Nouwen fonds
- PHYSICAL FORM: multiple media
- DATE(S): 1910-1997, predominant 1964-1996
- PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: 45 m of textual records and other material.
- BIOGRAPHY/HISTORY: Henri Nouwen was born in Nijkerk, The Netherlands to
Maria (nee Ramselaar) and Laurent Nouwen on January
24, 1932, the eldest of four children. He was ordained to
the Catholic priesthood on July 21, 1957 for the diocese
of Utrecht. Immediately following his ordination, Nouwen
began studying psychology at the Catholic University of
Nijmegen completing a doctorandus degree cum laude
in 1964 (Feb 3rd, 1964 in Psychology ( primary,
psychology of religion, second, sociology, social
geography). Following his studies in psychology
Nouwen became a Fellow in the program for Religion
and Psychiatry at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka,
Kansas from 1964-1966. During this year he
participated in Martin Luther King's civil rights march
from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Following his
studies at the Menninger, Nouwen was invited to join the
newly formed Faculty of Psychology at Notre Dame
University where he taught for two years. In 1968 he
returned to the Netherlands to take positions as Staff
member of the Amsterdam Joint Pastoral Institute and
member of the faculty of the Catholic Theological
Institute in Utrecht. From 1970-1971 Nouwen pursued
an advanced degree in theology at the University of
Nijmegen, focusing on the work on Anton T. Boisen. A
doctorandus degree was received in 1971. After
completing his theology degree he accepted a position
in the Yale Divinity School. For ten years (1971-1981),
he taught such courses as Christian Spirituality, Pastoral
Care and Counselling, Life and Work of Thomas Merton,
Ministry and Spirituality, Ministry of Vincent Van Gogh
and Ministry to the Elderly. He spent one semester in
Rome teaching at the North American College in 1978
and became a fellow at the Ecumenical Institute at
Collegeville, Minnesota. In 1981 he resigned from his
tenured position to work with the Maryknoll brothers in
Peru as well as visiting Bolivia and Nicaragua as well. In
addition to exploring his vocation in Latin America,
Nouwen explored the possibility of joining several
different Christian communities, with extended stays at
the Abbey of the Genesee in 1979 and 1982. In 1983,
following a speaking tour about Nicaragua, he accepted
a Letz Lectureship at Harvard Divinity School, a position
he held until his resignation in 1985. He went on to
teach a summer course at Boston College and later to
L'Arche Troly-Breuil in France at the invitation of Jean
Vanier, the founder of L'Arche (a network of more than
100 communities where people with developmental
disabilities live in homes with assistants). In 1986 he
accepted the position of pastor as L'Arche Daybreak in
Richmond Hill, Ontario. In addition to his duties as
pastor, in 1994, Nouwen co-taught with Daybreak
members at Regis College, Toronto, entitled
"Communion, Community and Ministry", the last course
he would teach at a university.
In addition to teaching Nouwen was a prolific writer, authoring more than 40 books and hundreds of articles related to the Christian spiritual life including contemplative spirituality, prayer, the desert mothers and fathers, icons, ministry, theological educations, peacemaking, prayer, death and the trapeze. A selection of his titles include The Wounded Healer, Reaching Out, Genesee Diary and The Return of the Prodigal Son. He was a sought-after speaker and travelled extensively to address participants at retreats, convocations, conferences and other public events. Nouwen died on September 21, 1996 while visiting family in Holland.
- CUSTODIAL HISTORY: The material was received by the Kelly Library in 2000 as two accessions. The first contained the records originally housed at the Yale Divinity School Library, an archives set up and contributed to annually by Nouwen from 1975 until his death in 1996. The second accession consisted of material created and accumulated by Nouwen at L'Arche Daybreak that he did not send to Yale Divinity School. This accession also consisted of material collected after his death and as such is now located with the Research Collection. More details about the transfer of records is available in accession file 2000 01 and 2000 02.
- SCOPE AND CONTENT:
Fonds consists of 15 series:
- General files
- Calendar files
- Personal records
- Publisher files
- Financial files
- Teaching materials
- Nouwen's education records and study notes
- Published works
- Video recordings of Nouwen
- Sound recordings
- Collected materials
- L'Arche Daybreak administrative files
- Ephemera and artefacts
See Series descriptions for detailed information about these series.
Title based on contents of the fonds.
The records are open for general use with exceptions.
Please see series level descriptions for details on
Copyright is retained by the Literary Executrix. No
copying without consent of Literary Executrix, except
excerpts for the purpose of scholarly research.
Permission to publish must be obtained by the Estate.
The documents are mostly in English and Dutch with
some French, Italian and German.
Further accruals are expected.
Related records can be found in other fonds in the
Nouwen Archives (donations made by others post-
Related records can be found in the Nouwen Archives
Special Collections (material collected after 1996).
Nouwen's book collection is catalogued in UT catalogue
as Nouwen Collection 2.
Books on and about Nouwen have been collected by the
Kelly Library since 2000. The books have been
catalogued in UT catalogue as Nouwen Collection 1.
Maintained by Gabrielle Earnshaw John M. Kelly Library, University of St Michael’s. Originally compiled by Martha Lund Smalley Divinity Library, Yale University. Revised September 2011 by Jessica Barr. Copyright © University of St Michael’s 2000-2001.
About this Guide
This finding guide describes the processed archival material in the Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection. This material was originally donated to the Yale Divinity School Library by Henri Nouwen in 1975, and remained in that collection until January 2000. In January, it was released to Sr. Sue Mosteller, the Literary Executrix of Nouwen's estate, and donated with other material from L'Arche Daybreak to the John M. Kelly Library. Until this transfer occurred, material was added periodically by Henri Nouwen and then, following his death in 1996, by the Henri Nouwen Literary Centre. This finding guide was first prepared by Martha Smalley at the Yale Divinity School Library and has been modified by Jessica Barr, Assistant Archivist, The Henri Nouwen Archives and Research Collection.