HWR news and notes

The American Catholic History Research Center at the Catholic University of America has recently expanded the documents available through its American Catholic History Classroom, hosted online. Various collections pertain to the history of Catholic women, lay and religious. Categories for research include “American Catholic Women’s Participation in 20th Century World Wars” and “Sisters of Charity: Nuns, Medicine, and the Civil War.” Documents are available at cuomeka.wrlc.org/index.

As part of its 2017 Downside Lectures series, Downside Abbey hosted its Cloistered Life conference on September 29, 2017. Caroline Bowden, Eddie Jones, and Carmen Mangion each offered presentations on female religious communities. Learn more at downside.co.uk/cloistered-life-conference.

From November 28, 2017, to February 3, 2018, Durham Cathedral featured an exhibit titled Saintly Sisters, focused on the lives and legacies of female saints with a particular link to Durham, including well-known figures such as Saint Hilda of Whitby or Saint Margaret, but also some who are today less well-known, such as Saint Osana and Saint Ebbe. The exhibition explored the significance of these saints to female medieval pilgrims as well as the continuing pilgrimage tradition at Durham Cathedral. 

Flora Derounian has published an article, “How the role of nuns highlights a low view of women’s work,” at The Conversation (theconversation.com). Based on interviews with several nuns in Rome, the article draws parallels between the image of the mid-20th-century housewife and nuns from the same era. She argues that women have been encouraged to see their work as part of a spiritual and gendered world. Derounian is a doctoral student in the Department of Italian at the University of Bristol.

The Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, will host the History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland (H-WRBI) Annual Conference on June 7–8, 2018. The conference will explore the history of women religious across a broad chronological timeframe, from medieval to modern. See historyofwomenreligious.org/annual-conference for more details.

Jacinta Prunty has published Our Lady of Charity in Ireland: The Monasteries, Magdalen Asylums and Reformatory Schools of Our Lady of Charity in Ireland 1853–1973 (Columba Press, 2017), a study of the magdalen asylums, reformatories, industrial schools, hostels, and “family group homes” run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in Ireland, as well as the convents themselves. It offers a more complete understanding of magdalen laundries and certified schools in Irish social history, the context of their creation, remodeling, and dismantling over time, and the commitment of these sisters to the care of women and children pushed to the margins of society. Prunty is head of the History Department at Maynooth University and a Holy Faith sister.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame announce that their new consolidated archives opened on January 2, 2018, at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee. 11 North American archives’ collections have all been moved without incident or damage to any materials. The dedication of the new archives is scheduled for June 2, 2018. Visit ssnd.org/archives to learn about the process of renovating the Mount Mary space and transferring the collections, and also for research policies and other information. Archivist Michele Levandoski may be reached at archives@ssnd.org.

Brian Titley has published Into Silence And Servitude: How American Girls Became Nuns, 1945–1965 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017) a history of the Church’s recruitment methods for religious vocations to the sisterhood. Titley examines the idea of a religious vocation, the school settings in which nuns were recruited, and the tactics of persuasion directed at both suitable girls and their parents. Titley, professor emeritus at the University of Lethbridge, is a historian of education.

Who Were the Nuns? has released its 15th volume of research: English Catholic Nuns in Exile 1600–1800, A Biographical Register. See coelweb.co.uk for more information. Who Were the Nuns? A Prosopographical study of the English Convents in exile 1600-1800, is a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and hosted online since 2012 at Queen Mary University of London. To learn more, visit wwtn.history.qmul.ac.uk.