The Conference on the History of Women Religious (CHWR) was established in 1988 to assist historians in discovering and preserving the historical record of vowed women from the Middle Ages to the present, and to integrate their stories into the larger narratives of their times and places. Today, the CHWR includes scholars and archivists from the fields of history, religious studies, women’s studies, and sociology. Since 2012, the CHWR and its newsletter have been housed at the University of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. Learn more about the history of the CHWR.

Twelfth Triennial Conference

The Twelfth Triennial Conference on the History of Women Religious (June 26–29, 2022) will bring historians and archivists of women religious together at the University of Notre Dame to discuss current and future work addressing the conference theme, “Diversity and Dignity Across Time and Place.” This conference is hosted by Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and cosponsored by Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute, Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana), and the Center for Spirituality at Saint Mary’s College. Registration has closed, but plenary and concurrent sessions are free and open to all. Learn more.

Preview conference program (last updated June 14, 2022).


CHWR 2019 Group Image


Triennial conferences began in 1989 to enhance networking and to recognize outstanding research in the field. For three decades, academics and independent scholars have gathered to share their research on vowed women—nuns and sisters—drawn from several religious traditions. Explore past conferences.

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Colonial Nuns


The CHWR administers three awards recognizing contributions to the field, presented during each triennial conference: the Distinguished Book Award, the Distinguished Historian Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award. See past award recipients and award citations.

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Wittberg Boston College Conference

Research Resources

The CHWR maintains connections to peer organizations, research centers and initiatives, relevant archives and digital collections. Browse a list of resources.

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sister of st joseph

"Why I study women religious"

From 2015 to 2019, the Cushwa Center's American Catholic Studies Newsletter featured short essays by scholars of women religious, describing how they entered the field and why they continue to feel drawn by it. Read their testimonies

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