Introducing the Armstrong Browning Library’s Graduate Research Assistant, 2022-2023

The Armstrong Browning Library has a new Graduate Research Assistant this fall. A graduate research assistantship provides a student insight into the day-to-day operations of a special collections library and the uses and importance of primary source materials. Graduate Research Assistants receive practical experience handling, processing, and preserving rare books and manuscripts. Additionally, they have the opportunity to digitize materials, develop and install exhibits, and prepare and participate in delivering instruction sessions for classes utilizing Armstrong Browning Library materials.

Anna Clark

Hometown: Jackson, MI

Major: History

Why are you completing an MA in History?
I am interested in teaching and writing about different historical perspectives. I am especially passionate about US and British history, more specifically transatlantic relations between the United States and Great Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My interest in transatlantic relations has largely been influenced by my study-abroad experience at the University of Oxford where I had the opportunity to study various British perspectives of the American Revolution. I hope to continue my education and eventually earn a PhD degree to become a college history professor.

What do you hope to learn while working at the ABL?
I hope to learn more about nineteenth century writers such as the Brownings and other literary figures whose work is featured in the Armstrong Browning Library and Museum. I am interested in writing my MA thesis regarding foreign policy, particularly the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Great Britain from the era of the American Revolution through the American Civil War, and I hope my exposure to nineteenth century archival materials at the ABL will inspire and assist me in my own historical research.

What are you looking forward to about working at the ABL?
I am excited to work with the staff at the ABL and to assist others in their research inquiries as well as contribute my own research to the institution. I am also looking forward to learning more about the nineteenth century through historical study of the Brownings and their contemporaries.

New Faces of Armstrong Browning Library

Recently the Armstrong Browning Library has welcomed three new employees. They are Rachel Bates, Caleb Lindgren, and Carolina Criscione. I asked each of them a couple questions so that we can get to know them better.

Rachel Bates:

Where are you from and what is your background before coming to Baylor Libraries?

I am from the great small town of West, Texas (just north of Waco).  I graduated high school from there, then made my way to the Texas Hill Country where I went to school at Texas State in San Marcos and received my Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Science, and a Minor in Mass Communications.  After college, I entered the events/wedding industry where I worked for over a decade coordinating events and weddings. I also managed a floral company for weddings and specialty events.

What does your new position entail?  

I wil­l be in charge of scheduling and coordinating events held in the Library and overseeing daily operations of the public areas of the building. I will manage the Gift Gallery, supervise the part-time hosts of the Library and the work-study students assigned to the main floor. I will also oversee all specialty events at the Library.

What is your favorite part of your role (or Baylor) so far?  

I have really enjoyed meeting my new team, and the work study-students that will work with me. I have also enjoyed getting to see the excitement of people who come to the library/museum for the first time.  They get to see what a treasure Armstrong Browning Library is, and how lucky we are to have it here on campus.

What do you like to do in your free time? What is a fun fact about you?  

I spend most of my free time with my friends and family.  I like to catch live music when I can and am a big fan of podcasts.

Fun Facts:  In my floral industry days, I probably created close to 1,000 bridal bouquets.  Floral design is still a passion of mine that I hope to carry throughout my life.

Caleb Lindgren:

Where are you from and what is your background before coming to Baylor Libraries?

I came to Baylor Libraries about one year ago after getting married to my wife, Katherine, who is a current Baylor PhD student (in history). Previously, I worked as the theology editor for Christianity Today magazine until 2020, when I left full-time work there to pursue my own PhD in theology (at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois).

What does your new position entail?  

My role is a library host at the Armstrong Browning Library, and I primarily supervise the student workers who sit at the front desk and greet visitors and give tours. I train them on their duties and how to give a tour. I am also here to answer any questions the student workers can’t answer and to work with the rest of the library staff to make sure the library is welcoming and safe.

What is your favorite part of your role (or Baylor) so far? 

I really have enjoyed getting to know my co-workers and the student workers. Baylor brings incredible people from all over the world, and I’ve loved getting to know them. Also, it is wonderful to work in such a peaceful (and beautiful) environment.

What do you like to do in your free time? What is a fun fact about you?  

I am an avid runner and an avid reader. I am also a military aviation buff, though I am not a veteran myself.

Carolina Criscione

Where are you from and what is your background before coming to Baylor Libraries?

I am originally from the Chicagoland area (Wheaton, IL). I studied Art History and Spanish at Wheaton College, and then moved to Boston to attend Simmons University for my M.L.I.S. degree. I concentrated in cultural heritage studies and explored the many different historic landmarks, museums, and libraries of New England as a student. After my wedding last summer in Maine, I moved to Texas to join my husband, David Criscione, as he completes his PhD program here at Baylor.

What does your new position entail?  

I serve as the Assistant to the Curator at the Armstrong Browning Library. My primary responsibility is supervising the Library Services area, more specifically assisting library patrons and visiting scholars. I also am involved in the circulation of library materials, fulfilling Interlibrary Loan requests, compiling library statistics, and recording climate data. One task I especially enjoy is performing research and other supportive tasks for the ABL Curator.

What is your favorite part of your role (or Baylor) so far? 

My favorite part about working at Baylor is my team of coworkers! I’ve been amazed by their kindness and patience as I’ve learned the ropes at the ABL.  Since they are all very knowledgeable about, and dedicated to, the preservation of rare books, I have learned a lot about special collection care and archives work from them!

What do you like to do in your free time? What is a fun fact about you?  

In my free time, I enjoy reading (a librarian who enjoys reading? It’s horribly cliché, I know!). I am also an avid gardener, and while I do not have a yard here in Texas, it’s been fun to learn about the geography and wildlife native to Texas. A fun fact about myself is that I have been a strict vegetarian most of my life!

We are so grateful to have Rachel, Caleb, and Carolina join the Armstrong Browning Library team!

Browning Scholar Enjoys Long-Awaited Research Visit

A photo of Marta Gimenez Orti outside of the Armstrong Browning Library & Museum

Marta Gimenez Orti

In late 2019, Marta Gimenez Orti, a doctoral student from Spain, received a scholarship from Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The award enabled her to conduct dissertation research for a semester at Armstrong Browning Library & Museum at Baylor University, which is the international center for research on the lives and works of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. However, as she began to make travel plans it soon became clear her Baylor visit would be delayed due to COVID-19.

Orti completed her undergraduate degree and two masters degrees in education and translation in Spain. However, she decided to pursue a Ph.D in literature. Her love of literature and Italian drew her to the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

When Orti found out she was awarded the scholarship, she was excited because she was working full-time as a high school teacher while trying to complete work on her Ph.D. The research leave would enable her to focus on her dissertation research and complete her degree.

“I had to wait for two years. I had to keep on working which was hard for me, and I also had to do a lot more paperwork to come here,” said Orti. “I had to go to the embassy to do my visa and I had to do a lot of COVID-19 tests.”

Orti’s research asks why Elizabeth Barrett Browning is not as highly recognized as other English writers from the Victorian era.

“She [Elizabeth Barrett Browning] was like the Shakespeare of women, and she influenced a lot of writers such as Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe. However, today they are much more popular than her and few study her. I want to know why she is not well-known anymore, even though she is a pioneer among English authors.”

Reductions in COVID travel restrictions enabled Orti to make her journey to Baylor in August. Now that she is at the Armstrong Browning Library she enjoys the atmosphere around campus.

“I am happy that Marta was finally able to join us, and I look forward to learning what her research reveals about Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s reputation and reception in Italy,” said Director of Armstrong Browning Library Jennifer Borderud. “I am also happy that Marta has been able to experience campus life at Baylor and explore Waco and Texas.”

One of the biggest differences between Baylor and her school in Madrid is the amount of help that Orti has received at Armstrong Browning Library.

Coming to a place like Armstrong Browning Library allows Orti to have resources all in one building, where in Spain, she described having to go to different cities to find certain resources. She is also appreciative of the staff that accompanies her at Armstrong Browning Library as they have greatly helped her adjust to life in the United States.

“I thought that adjusting to life in the United States would be harder, but it’s not. Christi and Jennifer at the Armstrong Browning Library are helping me a lot. They even looked for an apartment for me here,” said Orti. “I have also met some people here at the library and I have been spending time with them, so I thought that it would be harder but I am very good here actually.”

Since coming to the United States, Orti is also pleasantly surprised at the amount of student activities that Baylor offers compared to universities in Spain.

“It is so different from Europe. Here you have a lot of activities for students and organizations and I have a lot of opportunities to go out, so that’s something new for me as a student and I really love it.”

Orti plans on completing and defending her dissertation in January and would love to remain at Baylor for a little longer as a professor of language or literature.

Female Poets at Baylor: Fiona Sampson and EBB

Gallery

This gallery contains 5 photos.

By Katrina L. Gallegos, M.A. Candidate Museum Studies Graduate Assistant Armstrong Browning Library and Museum Last month the Armstrong Browning Library and Museum in partnership with the Beall Poetry Festival hosted distinguished English poet Fiona Sampson. Over the course of … Continue reading

Kress Collection Digitally Reunited

By Madeleine L. Svehla, MDiv, George W. Truett Theological Seminary

The launch of the Kress Collection’s Digital Archive continues Samuel H. Kress’ vision of making his 13th-19th century European art collection permanently available to the public. The beauty and magnitude of his collection of over 3000 pieces of art is now digitally reunited and can be accessed here: https://www.kressfoundation.org/kress-collection/list. The famous Kress Collection which is known as the premier collection of European art from the 13th to 19th century was distributed all over the United States to various museums, universities, and galleries in what the February 1962 edition of Life called the “Great Kress Giveaway.”

One of the Kress Collection's paintings on display at the Armstrong Browning Library

Francesco Zuccarelli’s “Landscape with Bridge” (1720) was acquired by the Kress Foundation in 1950 and is on display in the Armstrong Browning Library.

Building & Distributing the Kress Collection

The Kress Collection had its beginnings in the 1920s but the story behind the collection begins earlier. This is a story that involves hard work, brotherhood, and legacy. This legacy has been grown like a tree sheltered during its sapling state by the efforts of a younger brother committed to carrying out his older brothers’ vision. This vision could never have been developed without the perseverance shown by Samuel H. Kress in developing his entrepreneurship and building his company from the ground up. This is his story.

Christ the Man of Sorrows 1540 is by Giampietrino an Italian painter. It was acquired by the Kress collection in 1939.

Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955) was born during the Civil War and named after an uncle who recently died in the Battle of Gettysburg. He was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse while he saved up to purchase a Stationery and Notions Shop and eventually a Wholesalers. He opened his first 5 and 10 Cent Store in Memphis, TN in 1896. These stores became wildly popular and new locations opened across the United States. Through the success of these stores, Samuel Kress became one of the wealthiest men in America.

Italian art was not readily available in America in the 1920s when S. Kress through a suggestion by a friend began to be interested in collecting Italian art. He worked with Contini- Bonacossi to build his collection. He came to view it as his duty to share the masterpieces he had discovered. As the collection expanded, the Kress Foundation was founded to take care of the growing needs of the collection. The Kress Foundation was the most active buyer of European Art throughout WWII. Parts of the Collection were selected to tour the country and these local exhibitions were extremely popular. The Foundation decided that—rather than building a museum or gallery for the entire collection to be put on display— they would partner with museums, galleries, and universities around the US to display portions of the collection.

The Holy Family with the Infant St. John 1600 by Flaminio Allegrini. It was acquired by the Kress Collection in 1950.

In 1946, Samuel began to suffer from ill health and his brother Rush H. Kress (1877-1963) took over the foundations’ collection efforts. Under Rush’s guidance, the collection continued to expand and be displayed across the US. This collection has been preserved and remains cared for by those working for the Kress Collection and the institutions housing it. These men and women are continuing the work begun by the Kress brothers.

Kress Collection Donates 5 Paintings to Baylor University

The oldest and most valuable of these paintings is the Madonna and Child 1310. This painting is thought to be painted by a Pietro Lorenzetti follower. It was acquired by the Kress collection in 1939.

In 1961, the Kress Foundation generously donated five paintings to Baylor University that are housed in the Armstrong Browning Museum and Library. These paintings have been on permanent display in the Treasure Room for almost 60 years. Professors and students have been enriched by the ability to work with these paintings. For instance, Heidi Hornik Ph.D. (a professor of Art and Art History at BU) took her upper-division seminar class to the ABL and the students were able to examine the 14th century Madonna and Child in detail. To read more about Dr. Hornik’s work both in and out of the classroom, please visit: https://www.baylor.edu/alumni/magazine/1702/index.php?id=957830

Four of these paintings depict Biblical characters from Jesus’ life, such as Mary and John the Baptist. The final piece is a landscape. Each piece is a beautiful example of Italian art from the 14-18th centuries.

The Christ figure above the Madonna and Child is holding his hand in a distinctive way that has theological significance. The two fingers held up and slightly apart represent the human and divine natures of the person of Christ. The fourth and fifth fingers meeting the thumb represents the three in one mystery of the Trinity. He is also robed in blue and red which represent his divinity and humanity respectively.

Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and 3 Angels 1560 This painting is thought to be painted by an Andrea del Sarto follower. It was acquired by the Kress collection in 1950.

Robert Browning wrote the poem The Faultless Painter about Andrea del Sarto in 1855. Sarto is known for his meticulous attention to detail. Browning was inspired by one of his paintings and after researching the artist’s life wrote a poem that explores Andrea’s tragic love story with his wife. Though the Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and 3 Angels is thought to be painted by a follower of Andrea del Sarto, it provides viewers with an idea of what Sarto’s meticulous style is like.

Leaving a legacy is like planting a tree. The one who plants it may never see it grow to full size. However, future generations are blessed by basking in the coolness of its shade and it leaves a lasting mark on the landscape. None of us can ever truly know the long-lasting impact our dreams will have or how the ways that we invest in the future may one day come to fruition. Samuel H. Kress’ vision of making his collection as accessible to the public as possible is now being accomplished in ways never dreamed of during his lifetime. Yet, his legacy lives on in the splendor of this shared collection.

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Mayor of Fano, Italy Surprises Armstrong Browning Library Fano Club

Massimo Seri, mayor of Fano, Italy, was a surprise guest at this year’s annual meeting of the Armstrong Browning Library’s Fano Club on Saturday, May 15. Seri joined the virtual meeting from the Museo Archeologico e Pinacoteca del Palazzo Malatestiano in Fano which houses Guercino’s painting, The Guardian Angel, that inspired Robert Browning’s poem, “The Guardian Angel — A Picture at Fano.”

Situated in front of Guercino’s masterpiece, the mayor celebrated the long-standing relationship between the city of Fano, the Fano Club, and the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University. “I would like to be able to strengthen the bond between our city and your club, maintaining a constant and continuous relationship and, if possible, also trying to organize joint initiatives aimed at enhancing our artistic heritage with the hope of seeing one another again soon.” He also offered the possibility of hosting a meeting of the Fano Club in Italy in 2022 and visiting Waco and the Armstrong Browning Library in the near future.

Mayor Massimo Seri

Screenshot of Massimo Seri, Mayor of Fano, Italy, addressing the Fano Club on Zoom on May 15, 2021

Armstrong Browning Library Director Jennifer Borderud appreciated the mayor making himself available to speak to Fano Club members. “The Fano Club was thrilled to hear from Mayor Seri at this year’s meeting. I am grateful to him for his kindness and for taking the time to talk with us about the history of Fano, its artistic and cultural heritage, and the unique connection our two cities share. I look forward to finding new ways to collaborate with the city of Fano and to encouraging Baylor students and Browning enthusiasts to visit.”

The Fano Club was established in 1912 by William Lyon Phelps, a Browning scholar at Yale, and later passed to Baylor professor A.J. Armstrong in 1943. Its membership shares Robert Browning’s experience of traveling to Fano, Italy, on the Adriatic coast and seeing Guercino’s Guardian Angel. Postcards mailed from Fano to the Armstrong Browning Library establish membership in the club, which gathers annually in Waco, Texas, for a dinner to share their experiences of Fano and to hear Browning’s poem read aloud. The Armstrong Browning Library houses a copy of Guercino’s Guardian Angel as well as a stained-glass rendering of this work of art created in 1924.

Browning Day 2021 in Review

by Rachel Jacob, Armstrong Browning Library Graduate Research Assistant

To celebrate the lives and works of Robert and Elizabeth Browning, the Armstrong Browning Library holds an annual Browning Day Lecture. For the 2021 Browning Day Lecture, Dr. Joshua King presented his lecture, “Lords of the Earth? Elizabeth Barrett Browning on Christ’s Body in the Age of Human Domination.” A recording of the event is available on the Baylor Libraries YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/Vnki2F6A-X8

For the Browning Day Lecture, Dr. King explored the interconnectedness and intersectionality of literature, ecology, and religion in the nineteenth century through the lens of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her work. The lecture focused on the relationship of humanity, nature, and God in Browning’s A Drama of Exiles (1844) and Aurora Leigh (1856). Dr. King explored how the industrial Revolution influenced and conflicted Browning as she searched for the balance of human intervention and the wildness of nature. In addition to the lecture, there were two question-and-answer opportunities with Dr. King. The questions ranged from Spiritualism to labor and Women’s rights violations.

Dr. King is an Associate Professor of English at Baylor University, specializing in Romantic and Victorian literature. He also serves as the Margaret Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies at Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library. Dr. King has given lectures and organized conferences that explore the intersection of literature, ecology, and religion in the nineteenth century. This leads up to his Browning Day Lecture and upcoming book, The Body of Christ, The Body of the Earth: Nineteenth-Century Poetry, Ecology, and Christology.

If you are interested in the topics Dr. King covered, there is currently an exhibit on display in the Armstrong Browning Library, “The Brownings in Our World”, which covers Power and In/Justice, Relating to Nature, and Redefining Faith. An online exhibit is also available at https://blogs.baylor.edu/thebrowningsinourworld/.

Thank you for celebrating the life of the Brownings with us and for supporting the Armstrong Browning Library! Be on the lookout for Dr. King’s new publication and be sure to join us again next year!

Introducing Spring 2021 Student Assistants

This spring the Armstrong Browning Library has added a few new Library Hosts and Library Services Assistants. Student Hosts are the first point of contact for visitors to the library, and one of their chief responsibilities is to be friendly and welcoming to guests. The Library Services Student Assistants help researchers access Armstrong Browning Library materials and support the library’s efforts to increase the visibility of its collections. Please stop and say, “hello” to our new colleagues when you next at the Armstrong Browning Library.

Jordan Vanderpool, Student Host

Male young adult standing in front of a stained glass window.

Student Host, Jordan Vanderpool

Hometown: China Spring, Texas

Major: Double major in University Scholar and Spanish

What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? The Armstrong Browning library is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. I love just being in the building, and furthermore, I love Robert Browning’s poetry, so it’s just great to work in a place so rich in literary history.

What food do you miss most when away from home? I miss most vegetables grown at my house, like swiss chard and turnips.

Hannah Barker, Library Services Assistant

Female young adult standing in front of a stained glass window.

Library Services Assistant, Hannah Barker

Hometown: Lewisville, Texas

Major: Accounting

What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I’m excited to be surrounded by so much history and part of a community that values literature and its preservation.

What food do you miss most when away from home? I miss my Dad’s fish fry and my Mom’s spaghetti – really just homemade food in general.

Madeleine Svehla, Library Services Assistant

Female young adult standing in front of a mural.

Library Services Assistant Madeleine Svehla

Hometown: Morrison, CO
Major: Master of Divinity
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry (my favorite poem by her is entitled “The Best Thing in the World”). I have always had a deep passion for the power of the written word, and I am honored to be a part of the process of preserving ABL’s incredible collection! I admire the way the ABL combines beauty and research in ways that inspire creativity and contemplation.
What food do you miss most when away from home? The food I miss the most when I am away from home is my father’s Big Breakfasts. These meals usually consist of scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, English Muffins, orange juice, and occasionally, (just to mix it up) can also include either French Toast or waffles. My whole family gathers every Sunday to share this meal after church and I look forward to laughing and spending time together each week- these brunches are something I miss a great deal when I am away from home!

Matilda Weeden, Library Services Assistant

Female young adult standing next to a stained glass window.

Library Services Assistant, Matilda Weeden

Hometown: Monroe, Wisconsin (the Swiss Cheese capital of the US)

Major: International Studies

What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am most looking forward to helping show people around and being surrounded by the beauty of the library on a regular basis.

What food do you miss most when away from home? When I am away from home I miss my mom’s homemade bread rolls or Culver’s crinkle cut fries dipped in chocolate frozen custard. Fries in ice cream just aren’t as good anywhere else!

Researching at the Armstrong Browning Library, Spring 2021

The Armstrong Browning Library’s collection materials continue to be available to readers in the third-floor Belew Scholars’ Room. Baylor University’s procedures and practices for the COVID-19 pandemic apply to all individuals in the Armstrong Browning Library. At this time the capacity of the Belew Scholars’ Room is 5 researchers.

Individuals needing to access collection materials in the Belew Scholars’ Room are encouraged to schedule an appointment at least 48 hours before their visit. To schedule an appointment and request materials email, abl_office@baylor.edu.

We are currently asking first-time readers to complete the “Application for Use of Research Materials” prior to arriving at the Armstrong Browning Library and encouraging applications along with a copy of a photo ID to be submitted electronically (.jpg and .pdf files recommended) to: abl_office@baylor.edu.

Adaptations to the Armstrong Browning Library’s “Regulations for Use of Research Materials

1. Researchers should not enter the Library Services Center. They should show photo ID and tell the Library Services Assistant their name, so that the Library Services Assistant can sign-in the reader.

2. Readers should email, abl_office@baylor.edu, at least 48 hours before their visit to request the collection materials they expect to use.

3. When leaving the Belew Scholars’ Room, researchers must notify the Library Services Assistant who will sign-out the reader, unlock the researcher’s locker, and either remove materials to quarantine area or unlock the holds cabinet so that readers can place the materials they wish to place on hold inside the cabinet.

* Researchers must leave their masks on while in the Belew Scholars’ Room (even if they are the only person present).

Armstrong Browning Library’s Adaptations to Collections Access

  • Hand sanitizer is available in the Belew Scholars’ Room near the public computers and the reference collection.
  • Researchers should request materials via email: abl_office@baylor.edu rather than filling out call slips.
  • Materials will be pulled twice daily, at approximately 10am and 2pm (depending on staff availability).
  • Materials are pulled and delivered using gloves.
  • After use by reader, materials will be quarantined for 3 days before they will be re-shelved or available for use by another reader.
  • Only the Library Services Assistant will unlock and lock (touch the keys and handles of) lockers and the holds cabinet.

Virtual research assistance is available via email for individuals unable to visit the Belew Scholars’ Room.

To You and Yours

The Armstrong Browning Library wishes a

“Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years!”

Robert Browning in a santa hat.Knowing we could all use something to smile about this year, Maggie Liu, a senior graphic design intern with the Baylor University Libraries added a festive touch (the Santa hat) to the portrait of Robert Browning on the front of the Armstrong Browning Library’s Christmas card.

Miniaturist Ella Bush Shepherd (1862-1948) painted the original portrait. She was an American artist and member of both the Los Angeles Browning Society and the Pasadena Browning Society.

Included in our Christmas card is a request for current contact information. If you would like to update your contact information or be added to our mailing list, please email abl_office@baylor.edu with your current details.

Thank you for reading and subscribing to our blog. We look forward to continuing to share the Armstrong Browning Library’s 2021 happenings with you in this space.