Jane Baldauf Berdes, Jour ’53
Jane Baldauf Berdes’ love of music lives on in her archives, a spectacular collection of roughly 46,000 items, including her own writings and research, rare manuscripts, books and music. She dedicated years to gathering the material, and before she died of cancer in 1993, one of her last great acts of scholarship and love was to ensure that her work would be preserved and protected for other scholars. The Dr. Jane L. Berdes Archive for Women in Music is housed in the Duke University Special Collections Library.
Throughout her career, Jane embraced the teachings of her journalism education: “thoroughness, abiding curiosity, asking tough questions — always guided by and imbued with the dedication to truth on which Marquette University is based,” says her husband, George Berdes.
After Marquette, Jane's personal formula for success began with fulfilling her joyful role as a mother. With that effort assured, she went on to receive her master's degree from the University of Maryland and her doctorate in musicology from Oxford University. She was subsequently appointed an honorary fellow at the University of Wisconsin Women's Studies Research Center. Her exhaustive scholarly efforts were credited with opening a door long closed on an important era in the history of Venice, focusing on female Venetian musicians. Her work presented for the first time an introductory, contextual study of three centuries of musical activity at the Ospedali grandi, a group of orphanages and other charitable institutions of the former Venetian Republic that trained girls as musicians. Jane’s work provides a comprehensive account of the institutional, social, religious and civic dimensions of these welfare complexes, particularly their musical subsidiaries.
Jane wrote about music and arts journalism in a number of publications, including Washington Monthly, the Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter and several specialized arts publications.
Jane was known for her exhaustive research, competent analysis and clear writing, and she believed in “seeing the big picture and integrating its complex elements into an understandable whole,” says her husband.