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martha smith CSJ PhD archives and research center

About Archives

About Archives

Martha SmithThe Martha Smith, CSJ, Ph.D. Archives & Research Center was officially named and opened to the public in August 2014, following a major renovation of the Hooley-Bundschu Library into a modern, state of the art learning commons. A space was specifically designed for the archives as part of the renovation plans for the new learning commons. This new space includes a research/reading room, a processing workroom and ample onsite, climate controlled, closed stack storage for our archival collections.

The archives is named in honor of Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Martha Smith, a lifelong Kansas Citian, a graduate of St. Teresa’s Academy and the College of St. Teresa (which became Avila University), who entered religious life in 1947. She later earned a doctorate in modern European history and received a Fulbright scholarship to India to study Sanskrit and learn about Indian history and culture. Sister Martha was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Fellowship and the Sears Award for Excellence in Teaching. She was an educator and author who served as history professor at Avila from 1965-1995. In 1997, as professor emerita she began work on the Women Religious Special Collection then housed in the university’s library. During this time she also co-authored the book, Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920. Sister Martha died in 2011.

About Our Staff

Avila University Archive staffAdonna Thompson is the archivist for the Martha Smith Archives and Research Center and is responsible for overseeing all of the operations and functions of the archives and special collections. Previously, she was Assistant Director for the Medical Center Archives at Duke University and Director and Archivist of the Physician Assistant History Center. She received her Masters of Library Science from Emporia State University with a concentration in archival studies and is currently the membership chair for the Kansas City Area Archivists.

Carol K. Coburn, Ph.D. is a Professor American Religious History and Women's and Gender Studies at Avila University.  Over the last twenty-five years, she has published two books in American religious history and women’s history, including Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920 (co-authored with Martha Smith).  Researching on the topics of Catholic sisters, religious history, and peace and justice, she has published numerous articles, essays, and book reviews, and presented over 40 papers at national and international venues.  Additionally, she has served as a consultant for three independent filmmakers on the topic of American sisters and social justice.  Professor Coburn worked on the Consulting Team for the Smithsonian Exhibit: Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America and as a historian/consultant for the Sisters of St. John of God in Wexford, Ireland. Currently, she is the director of the CSJ Center for Heritage, Spirituality and Service at Avila University and a member of the Affiliate Faculty for the Center for Global Studies and Social Justice.

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