Thursday, July 8, 2010

Who are the Nuns?


One of the most exciting things I carried away from the History of Women Religious Conference last week was the knowledge that websites are being developed in order to make the internet a valuable tool for scholars who want to know about the contributions of nuns.

Only recently has the world become aware that women religious communities have been responsible for building and staffing thousands of schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and orphanages in this country. However, getting those stories into the public arena is a growing concern.

In a collaborative effort, leaders from eight Catholic universities (Boston College, The Catholic University of America, Georgetown University, Marquette University, University of Notre Dame, St. Edwards University, University of San Diego, and Seton Hall University) in the United States formed the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA).

The mission of the CRRA is to provide global access to Catholic research resources. They hope to provide access to rare, unique and uncommon research materials which are held by college, university, and seminary libraries and archives in North America. While these resources may be abundant, they are scattered among many special collections and archives. Sometimes they are documented but often they are only in the mind of the archivist or librarian.

Thus far, the CRRA has identified twelve primary collecting themes:
1. Catholic education
2. Catholic intellectual life
3. Catholic literary figures
4. Catholic liturgy and devotion
5. Catholic missions
6. Catholic social action
7. Diocesan collections, including papers of Bishops
8. Men's religious orders
9. Peace building
10. Religion and citizenship
11. Vatican II
12. Women's religious orders

The "Catholic Portal," is already an invaluable contribution to the intellectual tradition, but it promises to be even better as its pool of members increases and treasures are discovered. It is just a click away:
(Picture from St. Benedict's Monastery Archives)

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