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A Pittsburgh Group Dedicated To A 19th Century Cardinal Digitized His Life's Work

A Pittsburgh research center devoted to the works of a theologian, who later became a Catholic cardinal, has finished the first part of a project to digitize his manuscripts.

Archivists in Birmingham, England worked for four years to take high-quality images of John Henry Newman’s unpublished writings on theology, education and philosophy. It will take another year to upload the nearly 30 terabytes of material to a website operated by the Pittsburgh-based National Institute for Newman Studies in Oakland.

“As funding sometimes gets thinner at universities, it’s really helpful for scholars in different parts of the world, as scholarship becomes international, that they can access the original material that the thinkers they are working on were using,” said institute director Bud Marr. “To see those things in quality, high-definition images will really be important.”

Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
An original writing by Cardinal John Henry Newman is framed at the National Institute for Newman Studies in Oakland.

Marr said Newman’s writings still hold significant weight in theology and higher education. The Institute was established after the founder of the national Newman Association of American died in 2000 and left behind an extensive collection of Newman’s works. In Pittsburgh, a group of board members created a journal in 2004 and built the National Institute of Newman Studies in Oakland in 2007.

Scholars from around the world come to Pittsburgh to study at the center. The institute is now affiliated with Duquesne University. The institute and the university are hosting Daniel Joyce the archivist from the Birmingham Oratory where Newman’s works were digitized this week. He will give a lecture on Duquesne’s campus Monday Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.

Last week, the institute also launched a platform called the Scholars Common where Newman’s published works, letters and diaries and a collection of relevant materials in the fields of religious studies and theology can be accessed. 

“Once the project is finished. It will be as if a scholar in Tanzania as if they were at the Birmingham Oratory looking at Newman’s writings,” Marr said. “So you won’t have to travel necessarily across the world to examine these.”

Many university catholic centers are named after Newman because of his work in advocating for higher education. According to the Vatican, Newman is also a candidate for sainthood.

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.
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