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Guide to the Meinrad Craighead Papers, 1901-2007

Abstract

Award-winning artist and writer whose works focus on humankind's relationship with God. She has lived and worked around the world, but eventually settled in New Mexico in the 1980s.

Accession (2010-0020) includes letters; photographs; exhibition catalogs and publicity; public response to her poems and books; research and notes on mythologies, art, and nature; and other personal materials from her life. The materials largely date from the 1960s through the 1980s, covering her scholarship in Europe, her time in England as a nun in Stanbrook Abbey, and the years following her return to New Mexico. Includes Craighead's prayer books and psalters, some dating from the early 1900s, as well as some copies of her own publications and artwork. Acquired as part of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Craighead, Meinrad.
Title
Meinrad Craighead papers 1901-2007
Language of Material
English
Extent
4.0 Linear Feet, 2500 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The Meinrad Craighead Papers includes a variety of materials, largely dating from Craighead's adult life from the 1960s to the 1980s. The collection is divided into the following series: Personal Papers, Writings, Research, Artwork, Photographs, and Books.

Craighead's Personal Papers Series is a mixture of items, ranging from personal correspondence to official correspondence relating to her U.S. passport. Several folders have information on Craighead's recent activities, including presentation notes, her travel for speaking or workshop engagements, and materials from her retreats and public programming in the 1990s-2000s. This series also includes several versions of Craighead's resume, documenting her activities prior to the mid-1980s.

The Writings Series consists largely of feedback, book reveiws, and correspondence following the publishing of three of Craighead's books: The Sign of the Tree (1979), The Mother's Songs (1986), and the Litany of the Great River (1991). Drafts from the latter reveal that the book was initially referred to as the "Litany of the Rio Grande." The Writings Series also includes loose drafts, poems, and other undated materials.

The Research Series includes Craighead's handwritten notes and drafts from her research into the mythology and mysticism of different world cultures, including ancient Egypt, Rome, and Native Americans. Another interest of Craighead was the role of nature, including different animals, in the symbolism and spirituality of various religions and groups. These files are loosely sorted by subject.

Samples of Craighead's prints and paintings can be found in the Artwork Series, which also includes exhibition catalogs, printings and publications of her work (including several copies of Catholic Worker newspapers, which used her illustrations in the 1970s), as well as a small amount of artwork and poetry by others that Craighead collected. The prints in this series are not original works of art, but instead are photocopies or photographs of her work. They include copies of her inkprints, paintings, and glass etchings.

The Photographs Series includes the majority of the collection's photographs, which are both color and black-and-white prints, as well as negatives. Craighead appears to have taken several rolls of film of altars, outdoor landscapes, foliage, rock formations, and animals that she then used in creating her artwork. Other photographs from this series are portraits of Craighead, by both friends and professional photographers, as well as a small amount of photographs of Stanbrook Abbey in England. A final photograph worth mentioning is one of Craighead and three nuns at Pope Pius VI's coronation in Rome in 1963.

The final series, the Printed Materials Series, includes Craighead's personal books, copies of her published books, and books that include her artwork as illustrations. Craighead's personal books consist of prayer books, early editions of Christian texts, and a book about the Stanbrook Abbey Press. Craighead's illustrations can be found in three editions of Catholic missals from 1975 and 1982. Finally, this series includes autographed copies of Craighead's own publications, The Mother's Birds, The Sign of the Tree, and "Christian Symbols," a compilation of loose prints.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Personal correspondence, 1970s-1980s
Box 1
Personal papers, including resumes, 1980s
Box 1
Retreats, public programs, 1990s-2000s
Box 1
Presentation notes, undated
Box 1
Travel-Paris, Prague, and others, 2006-2007 and undated
Box 1
Writings, poems, drafts, undated
Box 1
Correspondence and reviews
Box 1
Letters and correspondence, 1986
Box 1
Book reviews, 1986
Box 1
Reviews and articles, 1986-1990
Box 1
Rio Grande-drafts, writings, notes, undated
Box 1
Letters, 1991
Box 1
Book reviews and articles, 1991
Box 1
General
Box 2
Egypt
Box 2
North American Indians
Box 2
Ancient and medieval cultures
Box 2
Birds
Box 2
Animals
Box 2
Symbolism
Box 2
Craighead's exhibition catalogs, 1963-1980
Box 3
Publications (of Craighead's art, writings, biographies, etc.), 1970s-1980s
Box 3
Catholic Worker, with Craighead's prints, 1969-1980
Box 3
Art shows, events, exhibitions (Craighead's and others)
Box 3
Artwork and poetry collected by Craighead
Box 3
Georgia O'Keefe clippings
Box 3
Craighead's prints and copies of prints (2 folders)
Box 3
Oxford Baptist Church glass doors
Box 3
Glass etchings projects
Box 3
Craighead in Rome, 1963, and Stanbrook Abbey photographs, undated
Box 4
Portraits and other photographs of Meinrad Craighead
Box 4
Molly Eaves photographs of Meinrad Craighead, 1997 June
Box 4
Jill Fineberg portraits of Meinrad Craighead for Common Boundary
Box 4
Artwork, nature, inspirations, etc. (2 folders)
Box 4
Paintings since The Litany of the Great River
Box 4
Travel to Paris
Box 4
Unlabelled photographs
Box 4
Personal prayer books, undated
Box 4
The Sunday Missal, 1975 and 1982 editions
Box 5
The Weekday Missal, 1975
Box 5
The Malvern Country by Bertram C.A. Windle, 1901
Box 5
The Cloud of Unknowing, 1924
Box 5
The Book of the Lover and the Beloved, undated
Box 5
Stanbrook Abbey Press, 1970
Box 5
Song of Songs greeting cards
Box 5
Christian Symbols, 1975
Box 5
The Mother's Birds, 1976
Box 5
Sign of the Tree, 1979
Box 5

Historical Note

Meinrad Craighead was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, as Charlene Craighead in 1936. She was raised in Chicago, where she attended Catholic schools throughout her childhood. Craighead graduated with a M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1960, after which she moved to New Mexico to teach and paint. She also began exhibiting her work, which was heavily influenced by nature and Native American imagery.

In 1962, Craighead moved to Florence, Italy; she remained in Europe for the next 21 years. She taught at several schools in Florence before winning a Fulbright in 1965. She spent her Fulbright year in Spain, where she studied medieval Catalan art. While staying at Montserrat, a monastery in Barcelona, Craighead felt called to monastic life. She entered Stanbrook Abbey, a nunnery in England, in 1966, and took the name of Meinrad. She remained a nun until 1980.

During her time in the abbey, Craighead continued to create, paint, and write. Her first book, The Sign of the Tree, was published in 1979. After leaving the abbey, she received support from the Arts Council of Great Britain to continue her art and writing. In 1983, Craighead returned to the United States, and she settled in Albuquerque on the Rio Grande. She remained active in the Catholic church, and continued her research and writings about mythology and Native American spirituality. In more recent years, Craighead has conducted workshops on the Feminine Divine, as well as continuing to publish a compilation of her work in 2003.

Craighead's publications include The Sign of the Tree (1979), The Mother's Songs (1986), The Litany of the Great River (1991), Sacred Marriage: The Wisdom of the Song of Songs (co-authored with Nicholas Ayo, 1997), and Crow Mother and the Dog God: A Retrospective (2003).

Subject Headings

Related Material

Related Material

The Meinrad Craighead Project, a documentary film about Craighead's life and work, was funded by the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South. The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture (part of Duke University Special Collections) also houses this organization's records.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Meinrad Craighead Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Meinrad Craighead Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2010.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan Lyon, February 2010

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, February 2010

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.