Lord, let us remember that the trailblazers of yesterday are our traditions today. ~ Archivists Prayer
During this Women’s History Month, we celebrate the women of Archives, the Sisters and friends who help preserve the stories of our lives.
And, we celebrate all of the Sisters, all the women, who have inspired through their teaching, their nursing, their ministering, their service.
Take time during March, Women’s History Month, to honor and celebrate the women of courage and vision who have been part of your family and life. Who are the teachers that motivated and encouraged you? Who are the trailblazers, the quiet heroines who used their voices for good? Who has nurtured and empowered you? What stories and photos in your collection inspire you and impact who you are and who you aspire to be?
We would love to hear how the Dominican Sisters or a special Sister has influenced your life.
Learn more about Dominican Sisters who have changed the world.
Archives Celebrates Women’s History Month
We celebrate Women’s History in March. What better way than to share some facts about the treasure trove of the stories of some 1800 resourceful women – namely, the Dominican Sisters?
In 1877 when the Dominican Sisters came to Michigan, records were kept by the secretary general. That was the practice for more than 100 years. Then in 1983, Sr. Teresa Houlihan, the prioress at the time, appointed Sr. Mona Schwind the first archivist of the congregation. Sr. Michael Ellen Carling succeeded Sr. Mona in 1997, serving until 2006 when Sr. Rose Marie Martin was appointed archivist. In 2015, Sr. Mary Navarre was appointed and is currently serving as the director. She is pleased to have Jennifer Morrison on board as Associate Archivist and first professionally trained person to work in our archives. Over the years, these Sisters along with the assistance of Sr. Carol Ann Nowak, Sr. Gretchen Sills, and volunteers gathered, organized, preserved, and made available the documents, records, artifacts, photographs, and creative works that tell our story.
What does an archivist do all day?
The goal of an archives is not simply collection and preservation, but also to share these materials. Users include members of the leadership team, department directors, and the family and friends of deceased sisters. Other users are scholars and students of history, be it political, social, or religious histories.
The task of the archivist is to assess the items coming in and determine if they meet the pre-determined criteria. Next, she takes steps to preserve the material, organize it for ease of retrieval and write a finding aid. The archivist does not interpret history; that is not her purpose. Her role, rather, is to provide the material for the patron seeking information, facts, and events as they happened in real time.
Why is this important?
Through access to our resources, administrators and department directors receive information needed to meet their goals. We have historical, legal and financial records, as well as photographs and blueprints. We keep academic and creative works of the Sisters. Annals from the missions are a valuable source of our lives and work these past 144 years.
Photographs, biographies, and selected reflections and letters astonish and delight relatives, friends, and former students who inquire about a Sister they remember and wonder “What ever happened to . . . .” Answering these queries is one of the best parts of this job.
The story of women religious in America since the mid-19th century to the current day is in these archives. We need these materials to tell the authentic story, not the distorted one often told by popular media.
Archives is the place where the promise of Mother Eveline’s prophesy unfolds. The good works of the Sisters, she wrote, go out like ripples from pebbles cast upon the water – ripples that end on far distant shores. “Only God and the angels will keep the record of their distances,” she wrote in 1929. And now we can add that the archivists are assisting the angels in this important task.
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