SISTER LYDIA PEÑA PAPERS
Scope and Contents
The collection contains the correspondence, and publications that Lydia Peña gathered for her doctorate project, which forms the biography of Agnes Tait’s life as well as correspondence, newspaper clippings and other items documenting Peña's own life. Materials in the collection range from the turn of the century to 2007. The collection contains extensive correspondence between Peña and Tait, as well as correspondence from Peña's organizations, friends and her family. Peña's research comprises a portion of the collection along with layout pages for the final catalog. Materials from Peña's numerous organizations are included as well as photographs.
Correspondence, resumes and reports pertaining to Peña's teaching career constitute the bulk of this series. Programs of events related to teaching and speech transcripts are also included.
This series consists of articles and contracts relating to Peña's own artwork.
The research material includes correspondence between Tait and Lydia Peña, and received by Lydia Peña while organizing the exhibit and catalog. Agnes Tait’s correspondence includes letters from Lewis Mumford, William McNulty and her family. The series contains copies of articles, original and reproductions of Tait’s artwork, newspaper clippings and exhibit brochures.
Documents in the series include manuscript drafts, notes from Tait, research notes and the final draft of the catalog.
This series includes notes, articles, newspaper clippings and manuscripts of research on topics of interest to Peña. Topics became either published articles, speeches or program presentations. Other papers contain research that remains unpublished.
Peña's correspondence with charitable organizations to which she donated money on a one-time-basis is included as well as correspondence, programs and flyers from organizations to which she belonged, contributing leadership and time as well as financial aid.
Daily calendars document Peña's activities. The series includes her friends and family's correspondence as well as awards and travel diaries.
The items in this series consist of a bag dedicated to the Loretto Africa Project and a hard hat used at Denver International Airport.
This series consists of posters, flyers and Peña's artwork primarily representing programs with which Peña was involved. Also included is an oversize card celebrating Peña's 50th anniversary with the Sisters of Loretto.
Images of Tait's artwork and family constitute this series. Included are photographs of artwork intended for inclusion in an exhibit catalog entitled Tait Retrospective. Also, the series contains images of Peña and of her organizations.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Biographical / Historical
Sister Lydia Peña was born in San Mateo, New Mexico in 1934 into a family of five boys. A sister, Dorothy, was born in 1940. She attended boarding school at St. Vincent's Academy High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico and completed studies for a B.S. degree in dietetics at Sisters of Loretto at Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado in 1955.
After graduating, Peña entered the Sisters of Loretto to become a nun. She began religious training in Nerinx, Kentucky. From 1958 to 1965, Peña taught religious art at St. Mary's Academy in Denver, Colorado. She worked summers to obtain a master's degree in education from St. Louis University in 1963. She earned a second master's degree in art history in 1968 from the University of Denver and spent the academic year 1968-1969 living in Madrid, Spain where she interviewed the artists about whom she had written her master's thesis. That summer she bought a Eurail Pass and spent the summer visiting all the major museums in Western Europe, before she returned to teach Art History at Loretto Heights College.
Peña chaired the Art Department at Loretto Heights from 1965 to 1988. From 1968 to 1969, she traveled in Italy, Greece and Madrid working on graduate studies in art history and studio art. From 1969 to 1988 she served some of those years as Chair of the Art Department and Director of the Beaumont Art Gallery. In the summer of 1975 she traveled to Central America.
Pursuing a doctoral degree from Union Graduate School, Peña lived in Washington, D.C. from 1977 to 1978 researching the work of Agnes Tait McNulty at the National Collection of Fine Arts at the Smithsonian. Besides a doctoral dissertation, the result was a traveling exhibit entitled Tait Retrospective and a catalog documenting Tait’s artwork and life, The Live and Times of Agnes Tait, 1894-1984.
The subject of Peña's dissertation, Agnes Tait, was born in New York City on June 14, 1894. She attended public schools until at the early age of 14 she entered the National Academy of Design. After leaving the academy, she held several jobs in the art field and traveled. While in Paris, Tait studied informally with an artist and learned the technique of lithography printmaking.
During the Great Depression, Tait worked for the Great Fruit Company and was sent to Jamaica. She enjoyed the country so much that she stayed on, working in lithography and painting. This period in the country inspired her to write and illustrate the book, Peter and Penny of the Islands. The Depression led to her involvement in the Public Works of Art Project (PWPA) of the Works Progress Administration or WPA. In 1934, the Corcoran Gallery of Art held a major exhibition of PWPA artists, including Tait’s painting Skating in Central Park.
While involved in the PWPA, Tait painted murals for Bellevue Hospital in New York and the US Post Office in Laurensburg, North Carolina. The WPA was dissolved in 1939.
In 1941, Agnes Tait moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico from New York with her husband, journalist, William McNulty, who suffered from tuberculosis. In 1947, she illustrated the book Heidi by Johanna Spyris. McNulty died in April 1952. Tait continued to live in Santa Fe with her sister Anita, who lived next door in a house Tait had built for her. Tait continued to paint, and produce lithographs. In 1961, she illustrated another book, Paco’s Miracle, by Ann Nolan Clark. Tait traveled and continued producing artwork until her death in 1981.
After completing her doctoral degree, Peña became a full professor at Loretto Heights College in 1986. In 1988, She joined the University Without Walls program at Regis University where she taught Art History, Religious Studies and Philosophy. She was also the Director of Special Gifts.
Peña exhibited her own art work in Denver, Pueblo, Santa Fe and Taos. She belonged to numerous organizations, was Chair of the Mayor's Commission on Cultural Affairs and President of the Loretto Community from 1995 to 2001.
5 box(es) (5 linear feet)
1 oversize file folder(s)
2 photo box(es)
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Lydia Peña, S. L., Ph. D. donated the Agnes Tait Papers to the Denver Public Library on February 11,1994 after compiling this collection for her thesis project to earn her doctorate. In 2007 and 2021, Lydia Peña donated her personal materials.
REVISED AND ENCODED BY:
- Correspondence Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- McNulty, William, d. 1952 -- Archival resources
- Nuns -- Colorado -- Denver. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Personal papers Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Peña, Lydia M. -- Archives.
- Research (documents) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Tait, Agnes, 1894-1981 -- Archival resources
- Women artists. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- SISTER LYDIA PEÑA PAPERS
- DECEMBER 2012
- Language of description
- Script of description