Frances Donaldson Library at Nashotah House Theological Seminary  

Library Serves Both Public and Nashotah Seminary
By Jon Voils c. 2013 Wisconsin-Connections Magazine All Rights Reserved

Located on a wooded lake bluff approximately 30 miles west of Milwaukee, Frances Donaldson Library serves Nashotah House Theological Seminary as well as members of the public seeking access to the libraryʼs catalog, databases and special collections.

One such collection, assembled by Mary Louise Riall, is exhibited on the ground floor of a three-story atrium connecting the original 1910 building with the Brady addition of 1982. Hundreds of small crucifixes are carefully arranged in display cases and illuminated by indirect light passing through the skylights above.

Ms. Riall, a New Yorker, traveled widely and collected crosses during those journeys. The sacred objects are made from ivory, fine metals and colorful stones, and reflect each makerʼs training and artistic sensibility.

The Mary Louise Riall Cross Collection was exhibited in the Vatican Pavilion of the 1964 New York Worldʼs Fair and was donated to Nashotah House in the 1980s.

Another notable holding is the Walter S. Underwood Prayer Book Collection. Considered the centerpiece of the libraryʼs stock of rare books, it was developed by Underwood, a Chicago attorney and senior partner at McLease, Spray, Price & Underwood.

Two illuminated, late medieval manuscripts are particularly cherished. A Sarum Use Book of Hours, circa 1400 features finely painted scenes, illuminated capitals and extensive decoration. The second is known as the Boies Penrose II Manuscript. It too is celebrated for its illuminated capitals and decoration.

Since 1977, The Underwood Foundation has provided financial support for efforts to preserve and publicize the prayer book collection.

Other special collections include archival objects and materials relating to the history of Nashotah House and the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin.

The library is open to the general public and registered guest users from 8:30 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. Monday through Friday. Holiday hours may vary. Individuals who wish to obtain borrowing privileges are encouraged to fill out an application and pay an annual fee of $15.

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