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Speier (Hermine) papers
6078  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Correspondence of German Jewish archaeologist Dr. Hermine Speier (1898-1989), the first woman employed by the Vatican, who converted to Catholicism and worked under Church protection. The majority of the correspondence is with Speier's lover, Italian airship navigator General Umberto Nobile, who lived in America in exile due to personal conflicts with Mussolini. The collection includes many photographs of Nobile and some of Speier, and a photograph album of Nobile, compiled and dedicated by Ulrich Mundt, an officer in the German Air Force. Speier was an archaeologist who was hired by Pope Pius XI to work in the Vatican Museum's photographic archive after she was fired from her position with the German Archaeological Institute in Rome for being a Jew. Speier converted to Catholicism in 1939. She continued to work for the Vatican Museum until her retirement in 1967. General Umberto Nobile (1885-1978) was an Italian general, airship designer and navigator, and professor of aeronautical science. He is best remembered for his two Arctic expeditions in 1926 and 1928.
Background
Dr. Hermine Speier (1898-1989) worked as a director in the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. She was fired from this position in 1934 for being a Jew. Her supervisor and mentor, Ludwig Curtius, recommended her to the Vatican Museum for a job. Although there was no job, Pope Pius XI created a position for her within the Vatican Museum's photographic archives. Speier converted to Catholicism in 1939, and thus severed all ties with her family in Germany. When the Germans accelerated their persecution of Jews in Rome in 1943, Speier was moved to the convent of St. Priscilla, along with other Jewish families. Speier continued to work for the Vatican Museum until her retirement in 1967. She continued her work in the photographic archive, and also worked with archaeologists on Etruscan, Roman, and Greek exhibitions; she also published a number of scholarly works on antiquities.
Extent
2.26 Linear Feet 3 boxes
Restrictions
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Availability
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.