About the Archives

Martha Smith, CSJ, PhD

Portrait of Sister Martha Smith, CSJ

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.

The 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.

About Our Staff

Amy Moorman, Archivist

Amy Moorman is Archivist for the Martha Smith Archives and Research Center and is responsible for overseeing all operations and functions of the Archives and Special Collections. She was previously the Archivist for the Wartburg College Archives and Archives of Iowa Broadcasting in Waverly, Iowa. She has a Master’s in History from the University of New Hampshire and is a Certified Archivist and Digital Archives Specialist. Amy is currently a member of several professional organizations, including the Kansas City Area Archivists and Midwest Archives Conference. She is also a self-published fiction author, mom to one amazing son, and cat mom of five.

Portrait of Carol Coburn, PhD

Carol K. Coburn, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita in Religious Studies at Avila University.  Over the last thirty 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.  She has served as a consultant for three independent filmmakers on the topic of American sisters and social justice, including the PBS documentary Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change.  Additionally, 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.  During the last four years, she has served as Senior Evaluator for a four-year global grant project, Cultural Diversity, and Conflict Management, sponsored by the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Currently, she is the director of the CSJ Heritage Center located in the University Archives.

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