From the Archives: The April 2022 Document Preservation Trip

In 2021, the board committed to the mission of archival preservation making it one of three core strategies of the mission of the institute. In April 2022, Robert Calabrese and Catherine Foster visited the archives and began the comprehensive digital preservation effort of all 146 boxes of Hartman’s print legacy.


If you’ve been following Dr. Hartman’s work for a brief time or for a decade (or four), you may have heard of the elusive “archives.” Researchers and Hartmaniacs have visited these archives over the many years since they have been housed at the University of Tennessee: Knoxville Special Collections Library. In 2018, former RSHI board VP of Research, Clifford G. Hurst, and two undergraduate research students made massive strides in digitizing documents and preparing many for publication. Their trip resulted in three new books: Five Lectures on Formal Axiology, The Revolution Against War, and Wit & Wisdom: Inspiration for Living Fully.

In 2021, the board committed to the mission of archival preservation, making it one of three core strategies supporting the institute's mission. In April 2022, Robert Calabrese and Catherine Foster visited the archives and began the comprehensive digital preservation effort of all 146 boxes of Hartman’s print legacy. 

On this trip, Robert and Catherine (with the helping hands of Catherine’s friends Maggie and Lily) were able to digitize over 8,517 pages of hand-written notes, letters, documents, and other papers.


Within this collection, they found a few delightfully fun facts about Dr. Hartman, his wife Rita, and their extraordinary life:

Did you know. . . 

  1. Hartman was known to many as “Bobby” and “Bob” with many letters addressed “Lieber Bobby,”
  2. Hartman, while living in Sweden and working for Disney, wrote to renowned clothing store Best & Co. in NY and ordered a silk scarf printed with the Duke of Windsor’s Farewell Address.
  3. Hartman clipped a few advertisements for Japanese Pearl jewelers from newspapers and magazines and even ordered a pearl necklace from one of them.
  4. Robert was quite the gift giver. In a letter to Fuller’s Confectioners, he ordered a gift of Pralines to be sent to a Betty Terrell in Petworth. Her response was overjoyed.
  5. In a letter to Walt Disney dated May 15th, 1938, Hartman enthusiastically wrote I have a “very great idea for making short and long films.”
  6. On July 23rd, 1934, Robert received the first of many later driving violations. This one was for “Driving a motor vehicle at a speed greater than that allowed.” On December 11, 1947, he was even arrested in Parma, Ohio for “reckless driving”!
  7. Robert and Rita were personal friends of the famous Disney illustrator Gustaf Tenggren, the lead illustrator for the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs animated movie.
  8. There was personal correspondence with Pearl S. Buck (author of The Good Earth) concerning the publication of an article.
  9. Hartman was consulted for his expertise in handwriting analysis from among some of his students in 1947.
  10. They got a dog named Brownie (cocker spaniel) in 1947.
  11. Robert & Rita tried (unsuccessfully) to adopt a baby from agencies in both US and Europe. While some correspondence reveals older children were available, the Hartmans greatly desired a baby.

Perhaps the most delightful discovery of this first archival preservation trip was in the many letters from Rita Hartman on behalf of her and Bob. This excerpt from a letter written to Sam on October 6th, 1947, while they lived in Wooster, Ohio is perhaps our favorite.


“We have gotten more, and I mean more books, the place is getting so crowded that both Bob and I are forever talking about when we will have our own home big enough to hold THE BOOKS. It is not a question of holding us, but the things we have. Right now, we are slowly but determinably being pushed out of our house by the ever-streaming flow of books.”



Share this post:

Comments on "From the Archives: The April 2022 Document Preservation Trip"

Comments 0-5 of 5

C. Stephen Byrum, PhD - Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Thank you for this work you are doing. It seems like we have been talking about getting this done for decades, literally! Access to these papers will accelerate Hartman study exponentially. You are not only "doing a service," you are "helping create a legacy." When I think about the hours spent digging in that library and then the prospect of accessing everything through my computer, I am filled with anticipation. Steve byrum

Suzie Price - Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Thank you Catherine, Robert, and Catherine’s friends for visiting and digging in to the 100,000+ pages of ‘Bob’s’ work and life. I love that he was an intellectual deep thinker AND also so full of Life, Humor and Curiosity. The depth and breadth of his life is intriguing and no doubt why his work carries on and is growing. I am so thankful you all took your time, energy and attention there to capture and ‘save’ these important papers. Hopefully, your trip will make the way for others to visit and capture even more new information for RSHI. You two are amazing!

Edward Korbal - Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Thank you, Catherine and Robert!

Clifford Hurst - Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Wow! What a great service you are doing for the Institute and for Hartman's (should I say "Bobby's) legacy! Gratefully, Cliff

Ron Laurie - Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Brilliant work and, I am sure, a fascinating exploration. All those books! Does anyone know what happened to the collection? Thank you Catherine and Robert for your dedication. Cheers Ron

Please login to comment