CARA Members Meet at North Shore Congregation Israel and Discuss Chicago Collections

The main sanctuary of North Shore Congregation Israel was designed by
Minoru Yamasaki. Photograph by Audra V. Adomenas.

On Thursday, May 31, 2018, CARA members and others met at North Shore Congregation Israel (NSCI) in Glencoe, Illinois, for a tour of the buildings and the Ruthie and Bill Katz Archives. Merle Branner, Archivist at NSCI, gave a fantastic behind-the-scenes tour of the main sanctuary designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center in New York City. She also showed the Tross Family Educational Center, the Goodman Center for religious education, and the Perlman Sanctuary.

Merle Branner, Archivist, shares the history of NSCI's main sanctuary with the tour participants.
Photograph by Audra V. Adomenas.
Merle Branner (right) and her assistant Ellen Katz Block open the ark in the sanctuary to show the Torahs.
Photograph by Doris Cardenas.

Merle Branner then led the group to the basement level where the Ruthie and Bill Katz Archives is housed. Like many religious archivists, Merle operates her archives with minimal resources but with a great deal of passion and expertise. The archives holds the historical records of NSCI since its founding as the "North Shore Branch of Sinai Congregation" in 1920 and includes materials from Rabbis and Cantors, Board of Trustees, Men's Club/Brotherhood and Sisterhood/Women, members' World War II memorabilia, and much more.

The Ruthie and Bill Katz Archives and processing room at North Shore Congregation Israel.
Photographs by Doris Cardenas.

After Merle's tour, the group convened for a brief CARA business meeting and to hear a presentation by Jeanne Long, Executive Director of Chicago Collections Consortium (CCC). The goal of CCC is to preserve and promote Chicago history and culture and to unite the resources of its member institutions to offer open access, learning experiences, and research opportunities to the general public, educators, and scholars. Membership in CCC offers the obvious benefit of being able to upload your content to the Explore portal, but it also grants entrĂ©e to a dedicated and experienced volunteer community.

Jeanne Long, Executive Director of Chicago Collections Consortium.
Photograph by Merle Branner.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this wonderful afternoon: the attendees, our hosts Merle Branner and North Shore Congregation Israel, and Jeanne Long of Chicago Collections Consortium.

A Day of Dreaming at St. Mary's College

On the campus of St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
On April 27, 2018, over 50 participants from 27 congregations of women religious met on the campus of St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, for A Day of Dreaming hosted by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Among the attendees were CARA members Jerice Barrios, Patricia Carroll, Sr. Virginia Jung, and Rebekah McFarland. The day was organized by the Sisters of the Holy Cross to gauge the interest in a collaborative women's religious archive and/or heritage center in the Midwest. Judging by the strong attendance at the gathering, the interest is definitely there.

The group gathered that day in the Lillie O'Grady Center at St. Mary's Convent was energized and eager to discuss the issues facing the archives of women's religious congregations. A pressing question for congregations reaching completion is, what becomes of their archival collections? How will their legacy be preserved? A collaborative archive where sisters can deposit some or all of their materials could be welcome solution.

Day of Dreaming participants gathered in the Lillie O'Grady Center to discuss a proposed
collaborative archive and heritage center
Of course, a project of that scale cannot be completed in a single day, but the exchange of ideas will continue as the participants work toward creating a steering committee and a plan of action. It was obvious that all of the attendees valued the history of the sisters and had a will to carry it into the future.

Upcoming Programs at the Newberry Library

The Newberry Library, as seen from Washington Square Park.
Photo courtesy of the Newberry Library. 
There is still time to register for "Women, Religion, and Social Change in Chicago and the Midwest," a symposium with Wallace Best, Rachel Bohlmann, Mary Beth Connolly, Karla Goldman, and Ann Durkin Keating. The panel will explore connections between religious practice and social activism in the lives of Midwestern women and their communities, focusing on Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish traditions of the 19th and 20th centuries. Please see the symposium website for a complete schedule and paper abstracts.

Saturday, April 21, 2018
9 am to 1 pm
Newberry Library, Ruggles Hall

Free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register online using this form by 4 pm Friday, April 20, 2018.

Doors will open at 9 am, with first-come, first-served seating for registered attendees. If seats remain available, non-registered individuals will be permitted to enter at about 9:20. Questions? Contact the Newberry at or 312-255-3610.


The Newberry Seminar on Religion and Culture in the Americas will host its final presentation on Friday, May 4, 2018 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please share with interested colleagues.

(un)Holy Spies: Religion and American Espionage in World War II
Matthew Sutton, Washington State University

Sutton’s research project analyzes the work of missionaries, missionary executives, and priests who went to work as spies for the Office of Strategic Services (which later evolved into the CIA) during World War II. Without necessarily anticipating the long-term consequences of their actions, these covert agents crafted new and important relationships for the United States with Mecca, the Vatican, and Zion, which profoundly shaped the trajectory of American involvement with the rest of the world in the decades after the war.

Respondent: Chris Cantwell, University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee

Newberry Scholarly Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically. For a copy of the paper, email Please request the paper if you plan to attend.

Currently the Newberry Seminar is accepting proposals for next year’s seminar until June 1, 2018.