WOMEN RELIGIOUS COLLECTION
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
The Women Religious Special Collection, begun in the fall of 1997, is unique as
the first college/university library collection focused entirely on the experience
of Catholic sisters and nuns. Intended as a repository for out-of-print and contemporary
books and materials on American sisters, the Women Religious Special Collection was
created to acquire and provide access to books and materials related to the communities
and activities of sisters and nuns in the United States. Founded and sponsored by
the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Avila University and the Hooley-Bundschu Library
are a natural home for this singular collection to highlight the activities and
accomplishments of women religious and to serve as a research site for scholars,
historians, and others interested in the history of women religious.
The Women Religious Collection is important and very timely. The
spiritual, educational and social services of nuns have sustained the U.S. Catholic
Church throughout its history, reaching a peak in the 1960's with approximately
200,000 sisters engaged in teaching, healthcare and social work. Since then,
the rapid decline of sisterhoods has raised the possibility of their partial or
even total extinction and the potential loss of many of their valuable records.
Because the sisters' role in both the church and society has been far from
adequately researched, understood or recorded, it is imperative that existing books
and materials related to their experience be carefully preserved.The
special collection is designed to encourage the preservation
of relevant materials, to facilitate their use, and ultimately to foster a wealth of
much-needed new scholarship on the historical experience and the influence of
religious women in the American Church and the wider society.
EXAMPLES OF SIGNIFICANT ACQUISITIONS
The collection includes a number of items especially valuable because of their age,
rarity, notoriety, and/or unusual usefulness to researchers.
• Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk of the Hotel Dieu Convent of Montreal: The Secrets
of the Black Nunnery Revealed. Maria Monk, 1854.
• In Our Convent Days. Agnes Repplier, 1905.
• Religious Orders of Women in the United States. Elinor Tong Dehey, 1930.
• Complete set of the Sister Formation Bulletin, 1954-1972.
• Marvels of Charity: History of American Sisters and Nuns.
George C. Stewart, Jr., 1994.
BOOKS AND MATERIALS IN THE COLLECTION
• Histories of women's religious communities and/or of women religious in general,
and studies of particular aspects of religious life for women in the United States
• Biographies and autobiographies of individual women religious, including founders
of orders and/or saints such as Madeline Sophie Barat, St. Teresa of Avila, and
Mother Cabrini, as well as others who were notable in some way such as Hildegard
of Bingen, Mechtild of Magdeburg, etc.
• Writings by or about women religious including memoirs, journals, devotional
literature, poetry, etc.
• Demographic, institutional data and photographs on a variety of women's congregations
For additional information, to make an appointment to work in the collection or to discuss
the collection, please contact:
Director of Library Services
816.942.8400 ext. 2311