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.

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

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.

Read about past award recipients

Wittberg Boston College Conference

Research Resources

The CHWR maintains connections to peer organizations, research centers and initiatives, relevant archives and digital collections.

Browse select resources


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