Scope and Content

The Sister Callista Campion - Berta Hummel Collection

Mount Carmel Archives, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Creator: Sister Mary Callista Campion and unknown others
Title: The Sister Callista Campion - Berta Hummel Collection
Dates: 1934 - 1992, bulk 1934 - 1957.
Extent: 8 linear feet (4 boxes and 4 oversize flat file boxes)
Identification: BVM002


Sister Callista Campion: Sister Callista Campion was born on March 1, 1891 in Milton, Wisconsin. Her parents, Edward and Esther Carroll Campion named her Alice. Her parents died while she was a child and she was raised by her aunt, who kept house for her uncle, Father Carroll. He was a German scholar and passed his love of the language onto his niece. At the age of 16, she toured Europe with her aunt and uncle. In Rome, the family had a private audience with Pope Pius X.

She attended boarding school at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Dubuque, Iowa. The school was run by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs). She entered the congregation on September 8, 1912, was received on March 19, 1913 (when she received her religious name Callista), made first vows on March 19, 1915, and final vows on August 15, 1918.

From 1915 to 1929, she taught school at various locations in the Midwest. She completed her Bachelor's degree from DePaul University in 1922, her Master's degree in German from the University of Illinois in 1930, and a PhD in German from the University of Illinois in 1940. In 1930, she began teaching at Mundelein College in Chicago, where she remained until her death in 1957.

While at Mundelein College, Sister Callista began corresponding with Berta Hummel, Sister Maria Innocentia, a Franciscan sister from a convent in Siessen, Germany. Sister Callista began collecting postcards created from Sister Innocentia's drawings. During WWII, the Siessen convent was taken over by the Nazis. Sister Callista would send food, clothing and other items to the convent and Sister Innocentia would send pencil and watercolor sketches as thanks. Sister Callista continued to send aid even after Sister Innocentia's death in 1946; she also continued to collect Hummel related materials until her death on October 16, 1957.

Sister Maria Innocentia (Berta) Hummel : Berta Hummel was born in Massing, Bavaria on May 21, 1909. Her parents were Adolf and Victoria Hummel and she was one of six children. Her artistic talent was evident even as a child. In 1927, she enrolled in the Academy of Applied Arts in Munich. She graduated first in her class.

While attending school in Munich, she lived in a Catholic residence run by sisters. While living there, she became friends with two members of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Siessen who were also studying at the Academy. In 1931, soon after graduation, she entered the Siessen convent. She was received in August 22, 1931 and took the name Sister Maria Innocentia. She professed final vows on August 30, 1937.

Her drawings were first released as postcards by a publishing house in Stuttgart. In 1934, it published a collection of her drawings in Das Hummel-Buch. One year later, the Goebel porcelain company received permission to make figurines based on her drawings and they were immediately successful.

Shortly after the Nazis came to power, they banned the distribution of her art. She had personally offended Adolf Hitler after she released a painting called The Volunteers, which depicted untidy and unkempt children dressed in clothing similar to SA uniforms captioned with a plea for peace. In 1940, the Nazis seized the Siessen convent and forced much of the community to leave. Sister Innocentia left the convent, but received permission to return several months later. She continued her artistic endeavors and, though the Nazis seized half of her profits, the remaining half was the primary source of income for the convent. It was during this time period that Sister Callista and Sister Innocentia corresponded. In 1945, the convent was liberated by the French.

In 1944, Sister Innocentia was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She died on November 6, 1946 and was buried in the Siessen convent cemetery.

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Scope and Content

The Sister Callista Campion - Berta Hummel Collection is comprised of records collected by Sister Callista and other records placed in the collection relating to Berta Hummel by others. Records include correspondence, artwork, scrapbooks and articles. The collection has been organized as records prior to 1957 (the year Sister Callista died) and records after 1957. The collection also includes records relating to Sister Mary Callista's interest in German language and culture, including translation work. The material after 1957 is primarily articles about Hummels, a group of partial translations of German correspondence between Sister Callista and the Siessen convent (done in 1979 by Gertrude Denning), correspondence inquiring about Sister Callista's collection, and an attempt to have the collection appraised.

Series 1: Non-Hummel Related Translation Work, Correspondence, and Prayer Cards, 1947 - 1953

Box 1, Folders 1-1 through 1-5; Box 5

Series 1 contains records unrelated to Sister Innocentia or Sister Callista's Hummel collection. Sister Callista did translation work for Nanda Herbermann, a German Catholic woman who was arrested by the Gestapo in February 1941 and sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. She was released by the direct order of Heinrich Himmler in March 1943. Her account on her experiences, The Blessed Abyss, was published in Germany in 1946. This series includes Sister Callista's translation of the book , correspondence with Mission Press about the translations, correspondence in German with Nanda Herbermann, and some articles by Nanda Herbermann. It also includes a folder of miscellaneous poetic translations by Sister Callista.

Series 2: Callista-Innocentia Material, 1934 - 1957

Box 1, Folders 1-6 through 1-10; Boxes 2-3; Box 4, Folders 4-1 and 4-2; Boxes 6-9

Series 2 contains the bulk of the material in the collection. It is divided into three sub-series:

2-A Correspondence and Articles related to Hummel, 1934 - 1957

Documents include letters to the Siessen Convent after Sister Maria Innocentia's death, obituaries, a letter from Adolf Hummel about his daughter's death, postcards of the Siessen Convent, a clippings file, Sister Callista's notes for a lecture about Sister Maria Innocentia and the Hummels, and miscellaneous correspondence from individuals interested in the collection.

2-B The Hummel Book (Das Hummel Buch)

Sister Callista contemplated translating this book from German to English. Documents include a clippings file on Margaret Seeman (who ultimately translated the book), an attempted introduction to the book by Sister Callista, a published translation, and Hui Die Hummel, another book written on Hummels.

2-C Sister Callista's Hummel Art Work Collection, 1942 - 1949

Collection includes Hummel postcards, drawings, paintings and figurines.

Series 3: Records Collected After Sister Callista's Death, 1958 - 1992

Box 4, Folders 4-3 through 4-6

Series 3 contains records collected after Sister Callista's death in 1957. It includes translations done by Gertrude Denning in the late 1970s of letters received by Sister Callista from Siessen. The translations are incomplete as they are only of portions related to Sister Maria Innocentia and Hummels. This series also includes articles published after 1957, correspondence regarding attempts to have the collection appraised, and correspondence from individuals interested in the collection.

Series 4: Research on Mundelein Hummel Holdings

Series 4 was added to the collection by the Mount Carmel Archives. It includes materials collected by Sister Mary Clara Bormann about the collection, photographs of some figurines, copies of the Goebel catalog from 1975 and excerpts from the 1976 Goebel catalog, a 1955 list of Hummels in the collection, and books on Hummels from the Mundelein College library.

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