Her parents named her Jeannette; her fellow captains called her Jehanne, and her troops cheered her as la Pucelle. We know her as St. Jeanne d'Arc - Joan of Arc.
Joan was a farm girl who grew up in Lorraine during the Hundred Years War. She heard an archangel and two saints telling her to drive the English out of France and she convinced the yet uncrowned Charles VI that she could make him king. Given a sword, a banner, armor, and a position of command, she led French forces against the English and Burgundians in a series of surprising victories. After the king was crowned, her military successes became fewer, and she was taken prisoner at Compiègne. She was tried by the Inquisition and found guilty of heresy. On the 30th of May, 1431, she was burned alive in Rouen.
Jeanne d'Arc has featured in histories, poetry, drama, novels, and politics ever since. She has been a heroine for Romantic writers, a symbol of France, a moving example of patriotism and dedication, a mascot for the suffrage movement, an inspired lunatic, an internationally loved saint, a salesperson for beans and circuses, and the model girl, woman, and soldier. We know an enormous amount about Jacques Darc's daughter based on contemporary records - but thousands of historians, poets, and writers have created thousands of Joans and Jeannes, many of them very different from one another. In this exhibition, we explore the evidence and the histories, poetry, and dramatic works, tracing her appearances through the years.
Bryn Mawr's stunning assemblage of Joan of Arc material has come to us through the kindness of many donors. The core of the collection is the gift of Adelaide Brooks Baylis. Baylis was a bacteriologist and professor of medicine at Columbia who served in both World Wars in home front commands of the ambulance corps. Baylis also had the distinction of being the first U.S. Women's Foil Fencing Champion in 1912. Baylis called Joan "my saint" and her collection of publications on Joan is extensive and unique, with particular depth in the ephemeral publications of the second half of the 19th century. The collection is open to researchers, and we hope you will enjoy this taste of its riches. The exhibition first appeared in the Rare Book Room of Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College, from January through May, 2003.