Historians and Archivists Delight in Demonstrating and Discussing Religious History as History

For four days in late June, the 11th Triennial Conference on the History of Women Religious (CHWR) met on the campus of St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN, sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism of the University of Notre Dame. CARA members, Malachy McCarthy and Virginia Jung, OSB were there, along with many historians, archivists, and other history lovers to engage in this year's theme: Commemoration, Preservation, Celebration.

The conference program served as a guide to receptions, meals, prayers, and 31 panel sessions that brought colleagues and friends together to indulge in love of learning.

On Monday, June 24, Malachy McCarthy, participated as a panel member in Session 7-Revisiting the Boston College Conference: Lessons Learned from a Collaborative Approach to Preservation. Along with Malachy, who is the Provincial Archivist for Claretian Missionaries USA-Canada Archives, Jennifer Head, Archivist for Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and historian & author Margaret McGinniss of LaSalle University, gave their take on working with religious archives at a time when women's and men's congregations are slipping away and traditional Catholic institutions may or may not be in a position to manage the archives. All of the panelists discussed the pros and cons of the collaborative approach. Margaret McGinnis emphasized that religious archives be more open and get used, that historians know some restrictions may apply. Jennifer Head talked about the BVM Sisters' work to establish a forever home for their archive which, like many religious archives, is a hybrid of corporate archive and family archive. Malachy McCarthy spoke of initiating the Boston College Collaborative, reporting that a working committee has been established and a paper is in the works. Malachy also emphasized the importance of religious archives establishing a glossary for their collections, since terms carry different meanings even within Catholic religious orders. He made available the white paper that Boston College released on June 7, 2019, announcing the establishment of a Catholic Religious Archives Repository at the college.

Malachy McCarthy, Jennifer Head, and Maggie McGinnis listen to Patricia Wittberg, SC introduce their panel on collaborative approach to preserving religious archives.

Malachy McCarthy began by reporting on the 40-year effort to establish modern Catholic religious archives in the United States, beginning in 1978 with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

The Sisters of the Holy Cross invited conference attendees to their Vespers Service in the Church of Loretto on Sunday evening. Veronique Wiedower, CSC, President presided and Sharlet Ann Wagner, CSC, First Councilor, gave the reflection on the gospel of the woman at the well.

The worship aid provided visitors of all faiths the opportunity to participate in the Vespers service, if they chose.

Other conference highlights included two evening talks: the Keynote Address Open, Vast, and Inclusive: Catholic Women's History is Early North American History by historian Ann Little, author of The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright and the Banquet Speech Finding What's True in the Stories of Women Religious by journalist Eileen Markey, author of A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura.

Tornado sirens interrupted both evening talks sending conference attendees to the basement where they took advantage of new opportunities to mingle while waiting out the storms.

The college bookstore created a sizeable, inspiring display of books researched, authored, and edited by conference panelists and attendees.

While this conference happens only every three years, it is a great place for archivists of any faith to learn more about the workings of religious archives and the researchers who use them. If you are thinking about presenting or attending CHWR in 2022, the Cushwa Center will have the information you need.

Virginia Jung, OSB (center), enjoyed meeting up with more Benedictine sisters from around the country l. to r. :Mary Ann O'Ryan, OSB, (historian from St. Scholastica-Chicago) Laura Swan, OSB, (historian, author, archivist from Mt. Placid - Oregon), Rebecca Abel, OSB, (archivist from  Immaculate Conception-Ferdinand, IN) and Judith Sutera, OSB (historian and author from Mount St. Scholastica-Atchison)

Other News

Professional Development Scholarships are available to Illinois Archivists. If you do not already receive For the Record from our State Archivist, Jesse White, here is the link with more information:

This Spring 2019 issue of For the Record includes a link to the Illinois Archival Repositories Directory. Check to see if your archive is listed. If it isn't, consider sending your information to include in the directory. I also suggest scanning the directory for Chicago area religious archives that are not CARA members and inviting them to join! 

CARA Spring Meeting at National Bahá'í Archives

The blue sky and sunshine welcome CARA members
gathering in Wilmette at the Baha'i House of Worship.
Photograph by Doris Cardenas

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, CARA members held their Spring Meeting from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the National Bahá'í Archives, United States, on the lower level of the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, IL.

  Qualified researchers and visitors
 are welcome to visit the archives reading room
which is open by appointment, during weekdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Photograph by Doris Cardenas

After greeting the group at the Welcome Center, Edward Sevcik, their archivist, brought us to the reading room of the archive to view a display of archival materials and hear about his work as well as fielding questions from attendees about the archive, the Bahá'í faith and history, particularly in the Chicago area. Ed shared that he came to Wilmette from the International Archive at the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa, Israel.

Kristen Gravelin and Andrew Rea listen as host archivist, Ed Sevcik, discusses common concerns among religious archivists-
such as digitization of A-V materials, security, and levels of access to archival material.
Photograph by Doris Cardenas

The Chicago Bahá'í community established the US National Archive in 1903, moved it to Wilmette in the 1940s, and they are preparing it for another move this summer to a larger facility being prepared down the street. While the United States Bahá'í House of Worship is a well-known architectural wonder in Illinois, most researchers do not seek information about the building, but rather come to study the faith itself and its growth in this country.

The National Bahá'í Archives uses the spectrum of technology  to access materials
created in different decades over a century of collecting. And they are ready to expand.
Photograph by Audra V. Adomenas 
CARA then held its business meeting where Jerice Barrios introduced the newly elected members of the Steering Committee: Audra Adomenas, Doris Cardenas, Virginia Jung, OSB, Malachy McCarthy, and Andrew Rea - and Doris Cardenas took it from there. Sister Virginia gave a brief presentation on her partnerships with several courses at DePaul University for archival projects at St. Scholastica Monastery, including a story map of Illinois schools where her community has taught. She encouraged interested CARA members to contact the Steans Center at DePaul in order to explore possibilities for their own archives.

Messages of peace, tolerance, and inclusion
fill the architecture, artwork, and environment of the House of Worship.
This wall hanging reads, in part: 
Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils is a major barrier to peace.
It retards the unfoldment of the boundless potentialities of its victims,
corrupts its perpetrators, and blights human progress.
Photograph by Audra V. Adomenas

After the business meeting, attendees enjoyed the glorious Spring afternoon, visiting as they walked through the gardens of the House of Worship or slipping inside to explore or perhaps, sit to pause, pray, and reflect in the light, airy interior.

There is one major Bahá'í  house of worship on each continent of the planet.
The North American house of worship, right here on the north shore,
was designed by Louis Bourgious, the corner stone was laid in 1912,
 construction begun in the early 1920s, and the building was dedicated in 1953.
Photograph by Audra V. Adomenas

2019 CARA Spring Meeting to be held at U.S. National Bahá’í Archives

Baha'i House of Worship. Photo courtesy of www.bahai.us.
The 2019 CARA Spring Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 23 at the U.S. National Bahá’í Archives, located on the lower level of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, IL.

When: May 23, 2019, 1-3pm
Where: Bahá’í House of Worship, 100 Linden Avenue, Wilmette IL

Parking and transportation: Parking is available but limited, so please carpool if possible. For anyone who can take the CTA, the Purple Line Linden Station is about 15 minutes walk from the House of Worship.

1pm       Gather in the House of Worship Welcome Center, near the parking lot entrance, for a tour of the Archives led by Archivist Edward Sevcik

2pm       CARA business meeting with announcement of Steering Committee election results

2:30pm  Tour of House of Worship and garden

Light refreshments will be served. This meeting is free and open to CARA members and other interested parties. Space is limited, though, so please RSVP by May 21 to cenacle.archives@gmail.com.

Looking forward to seeing you there!