Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame

In 2022, the University of Notre Dame celebrates fifty years of being a coeducational institution. Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame joins the year-long celebrations occurring throughout campus. This exhibit presents a selection of correspondence, articles, documents, and other materials from the Notre Dame Archives that record the journey toward coeducation. 

The transition to fully include women in all aspects of student life was a long, winding, and sometimes bumpy road. Since the 1910s, women have been studying at and earning degrees from Notre Dame. For the most part, their experiences were exclusive to the Summer School Program, which was established in 1918. However, by the 1960s, it was clear that Notre Dame, like its peers, had to pursue coeducation to remain a relevant, top-tier university.

Notre Dame became coeducational in the fall of 1972, but it would take years for women to be fully integrated into undergraduate life. Women struggled for representation in the classrooms, in student organizations, and on the athletic fields. This exhibit takes a look back at the pioneering women who have helped shape Notre Dame for over one hundred years.

This exhibit is curated by Elizabeth Hogan, Senior Archivist for Photographs and Graphic Materials.


2022 Fall Exhibit Open House Tours

  • Friday, October 14, 3:00-4:00pm (Stanford Weekend)
  • Friday, November 4, 3:00-4:00pm (Clemson Weekend)
  • Friday, November 18, 3:00-4:00pm (Boston College Weekend)

Stop by Hesburgh Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections exhibit gallery and explore “Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame.” Exhibit curator, Elizabeth Hogan, will be available to walk you through the exhibit and answer questions. No registration is necessary.


All exhibits hosted in Special Collections are free and open to the public during regular business hours.

Please note: the west concourse of the Hesburgh Library is currently under renovation, however, Rare Books & Special Collections is still accessible. 

Upcoming Events: October 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open during regular hours.

Please join us for the following public event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, October 6 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “‘Permettereste a vostro figlio di sposare Lola?’: Latent Fascism, American Culture, and Blackness in Postwar Italy” – Jessica L. Harris (St. John’s University).


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, will run through the end of the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – early October 2022) and A Day in a Life of the Warsaw Ghetto in Photographs (August – early October 2022). Later in October we will be installing two new spotlight exhibits: an exhibit featuring our William Butler Yeats Collection and discussing Yeats’ connection with Notre Dame (mid-October – December 2022), and an exhibit highlighting some recent acquisitions relating to women in World War II (mid-October – November 2022).

RBSC will be open regular hours, 9:30am – 4:30pm,
during Notre Dame’s Mid-Term Break (October 17 – 21).

Upcoming Events: September 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open regular hours.

Please join us for the following public events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, September 1 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “How Contini Worked: The Critic’s ‘Scartafacci'” – Ryan Pepin (University of Notre Dame).

Friday, September 16 at 3:30pm | The Diary of Pelagia Rościszewska: Facts, Secrets, and Surprises – Dariusz Skórczewski (John Paul II Catholic University).


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, opened late-August and will run through the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – September 2022) and A Day in a Life of the Warsaw Ghetto in Photographs (August – September 2022).

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th,
for Labor Day.

Upcoming Events: August 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC has construction barriers due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open regular hours.

There are no public events currently scheduled for August. Please check back for events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections during September.


An exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame will open mid-August and run through the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – August 2022) and Fifties Flair and Seventies Feminism Presented by Two Magazines (May – August 2022). The latter exhibit will be replaced towards the end of August by an exhibit showcasing two recently acquired World War II era photo albums featuring original photographs from the within and outside of the Warsaw Ghetto’s walls.

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th,
for Labor Day.

Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God

Materials displayed in this spotlight exhibit come from the collections of Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) and The University of Notre Dame Archives. Please note that the corridor outside RBSC has construction barriers, but we remain open to all.

by Jean McManus, Catholic Studies Librarian

The Sisters of Loretto (SL) founded 1812 as The Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, Washington County, Kentucky

The Oblate Sisters of Providence (OSP) founded 1829, Baltimore Maryland

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) founded 1849, Wisconsin

These three distinct societies of women religious, featured in the June-July Special Collections spotlight exhibit, have their origins in the 19th century United States, on the frontier, among immigrant Catholics in the east, and in the Midwest, with varying experiences in relation to slavery, racial segregation, and discrimination in the American Catholic milieu. In their different places and motherhouses, these groups of sisters have cared for orphans and widows, educated children, and all have continuously responded to the “needs of the time,” in the words of Sister Rita Michelle Proctor, OSP, the current Superior General of the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Gender, race, religion, and place shaped and continue to shape their stories. 

Sisters of Loretto

The Sisters of Loretto were founded as the Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross in 1812, among the earliest sisterhoods established in the United States. The founding Sisters—Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern, and Christina Stuart—worked with Belgian missionary Fr. Charles Nerinckx, who became their clerical founder. Nerinckx supported the new society by writing their Rule, helping to build Little Loretto, their first home, and commissioning the print displayed here. The landscape in the engraving is fantastically rendered via the European imagination by the Belgian printer, but also rather accurate in portraying the rough hewn buildings, barefoot sisters, and split rail fence around their buildings.

The Sisters of Loretto relied on enslaved people to provide labor at their several missions before Emancipation, and also brought some African American women into the society as oblates, with different rules and professions. The story is not simple or altogether documented in the archives. The Sisters of Loretto today are present in the United States, and around the world, and center education, peace and justice in their work. More historical investigation appears in the LOREtto blog posts, written from the archives at the motherhouse in Kentucky. In 2000, the community erected a memorial to honor persons enslaved at their missions. Sisters of Loretto continue reckoning with their historical relationships with people of color at Little Loretto and other places, as they research their own and related archives regarding slavery and Native American children at Loretto-run schools.

Klyn Loretten in Noord-America. Petit Lorette Etats Unis de L’Amerique. Little Loretto Kentucky United States of America. [Belgium], 1816. [Hesburgh Library, Special Collections Prints • PRINT-1816-01-F1]

Oblate Sisters of Providence and Mother Mary Lange

Foundress Mother Mary Lange of the Oblate Sisters of Providence was still alive in Baltimore when members of the order responded to the invitation of Rev. Ignatius Panken, S.J., to educate Black Catholic children in St. Louis in 1880. They marked anniversaries of service in education and care of orphans in 1905 with a celebration and printed souvenir. The extension of their mission to St. Louis was consistent with the principles of their founding.

Mother Mary Lange

From the souvenir program of the Silver Jubilee of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Saint Louis, Missouri, 1905.

In 1828, Elizabeth Lange, who was born into a Catholic family and educated in Cuba, had emigrated to a French-speaking Catholic enclave in Baltimore and was already teaching Black children at a school in her home. Urged by the French Sulpician priest who became their ecclesiastical director, Fr. James Joubert, Elizabeth Lange (who became Sister Mary Elizabeth Lange) with fellow teacher, Maria Balas (who became Sister Mary Frances), Rosine Boegue (who became Sister Mary Rose), and Almaide Duchemin (who became Sister Mary Therese) began the work to minister to the children of Haitian refugees by making formal professions in July 1829. As the OSP website history proclaims, “The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the first successful Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world established by women of African descent.” The cause for sainthood for Mother Mary Lange recognizes her heroic virtue in founding and sustaining the Oblate Sisters of Providence to educate African American Catholic children in Baltimore and beyond. Her cause for beatification was opened in 2004, and she is a Servant of God. 

Oblate Sisters of Providence moved to St. Louis in 1880 and taught Black Catholic children at St. Elizabeth School. Changes in parish makeup led the Sisters to establish St. Frances’ Orphan Home (1882-1952) and St. Rita’s Academy (1912-1950), both ministering originally to girls. Eventually the order founded schools in eighteen states–by the 1950s there were over 300 OSP Sisters teaching and caring for Black children.

St. Frances’ Orphan Home First Communion, 1902.

From the souvenir program of the Silver Jubilee of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Saint Louis, Missouri, 1905. [MO St Louis – OSP, 1905, PROW 10/02. University of Notre Dame Archives.]

The two items featured in this exhibit point to 25 years of sustained effort and growth by the OSP Sisters in the St. Louis area. The interior pages feature an iconic photograph of foundress Mother Mary Lange, with a short history of the order. Also included are photographs from the St. Louis missions, such as the “First Communion class of the orphans, 1902,” showing 18 girls, two Oblate Sisters, and one white priest.  Later, in 1930, a Golden Jubilee was celebrated, marking 50 years in the St. Louis area. The challenging circumstances faced by the OSP Sisters in St. Louis are well documented in Ann Rosentreter’s 2016 thesis, Black, Catholic, and female : the Oblate Sisters of Providence in St. Louis, Missouri, during the interwar years.

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and Sister Thea Bowman

Left:  Lead Me, Guide Me : the African American Catholic Hymnal. Chicago: G.I.A. Publications, 1987.
[National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, CNBC 15/12. University of Notre Dame Archives.]

Center: Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, portrait, ca. 1990 [University President Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy (1987-2005): Graphics, GPML #1996-6 box B:37, University of Notre Dame Archives.]

Right: Lead Me, Guide Me–Book of Signatures, 1987 [National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, CNBC 15/62. University of Notre Dame Archives.]

Finally, we have a glimpse of the work of the Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Thea Bowman, now a Servant of God, who was educated by the FSPA Sisters in her home town of Canton, MS, became a convert to Catholicism at age 9, and entered the order as a determined 15 year old girl. She taught and worked for racial reconciliation in the Catholic church, and evangelized through song, particularly advocating for a Black Catholic tradition. Sister Thea Bowman died in March, 1990, and weeks later the University of Notre Dame honored her with the Laetare Medal, the first time the medal was given posthumously. 

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have long pursued their mission of education along with their devotional practice of perpetual adoration. The Sisters continue to lift up Sister Thea Bowman by supporting her cause for sainthood, and the foundation started with her input and name. The Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Education Foundation provides scholarships for Black students to attend Catholic colleges and universities.

One result of Sister Thea’s evangelization and ministry is this 1987 hymnal, Lead Me, Guide Me, a collaborative project with a host of Black Catholics that includes her essay, “The Gift of African American Sacred Song.” The hymnal signature book includes hundreds of signatures, many dated May 23, 1987, a month after the publication of Lead Me, Guide Me. Perhaps it was a book launch and celebration? Sr. Thea Bowman was part of it, as her signature attests.

Stories of Power and Diversity in Notre Dame’s Collections

This week we highlight the Hesburgh Libraries’ first student-curated digital exhibition, Still History? Exploring Mediated Narratives.

Seven Notre Dame students who enrolled in the Winter Session course, “Stories of Power and Diversity: Inside Museums, Archives, and Collecting” worked together to create this unique show. The students ranged from first year to graduate students and their fields of study included history, English, anthropology, classics, art history, and liberal studies. Their show brings together seven items from three Notre Dame campus repositories – Rare Books and Special Collections, University Archives, and the Snite Museum of Art – and reflects on how they intersect with themes of diversity. 

We invite you to explore Still History?’s seven showcases. Each explores a single object or set of objects. Each also includes a personal reflection statement about the student’s work on this project. The show presents a variety of twentieth-century visual and textual sources, including photographs by Laura Gilpin, Aaron Siskind, Ernest Knee, and Mary Ellen Mark, a poster supporting women in prison, a pamphlet on disabilities, and articles from the Observer. Questions about representation link these disparate sources and thread the showcases together in interesting ways. The students ask how art and artifacts do and do not represent the experiences of Black, Native American, LGBTQ, mentally- and physically-disabled, incarcerated, poor, and Hispanic-American individuals and groups. An introduction and afterword by RBSC’s own curators, Erika Hosselkus and Rachel Bohlmann, who taught this new course, bookend the show.

This exhibition invites viewers to connect with holdings in the University of Notre Dame’s campus repositories and to ongoing campus and nationwide conversations about diversity and representation. We are pleased to share it here!

Upcoming Events: December and early January

There are no events scheduled to be hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections in December 2019 or early January 2020.

Rare Books and Special Collections will remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is open for just under three more weeks, closing December 19.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019), a display of selected materials from the University Archives, and Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020) in conjunction with the Snite Museum’s exhibit “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame.

RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Christmas & New Year’s Break (December 21, 2019 – January 1, 2020) and will resume regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

Upcoming Events: November and early December

Please join us for the following public events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, November 7 at 5:00pm | Professor Ege. With the Knife. In the Library. Solving the Murder of 200 Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Twentieth-Century America” by Scott Gwara (University of South Carolina).

This lecture is co-sponsored by Rare Books & Special Collections and the Medieval Institute

Monday, November 18 at 4:30pm | Finnegans Wake: On Infinite Translation’. The event will include a roundtable on the issues of translatability and reading as a modality of “infinite translation,” featuring Enrico Terrinoni (Professor at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia and Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies).

This event is sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Center for Italian Studies.

Thursday, November 21 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – ” ‘In arts it is repose to life: è filo teso per siti strani.’ The Role of Anglophone Culture in Primo Levi and His Times” by Valentina Geri (Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame).

The Italian Research Seminar is sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

 

The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019) and Knute Rockne All American (October – November 2019). Both spotlight exhibits feature materials from the University Archives.

RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break
(November 28 – December 1) and will resume regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) on Monday, December 2, 2019.

Upcoming Events: October and early November

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, October 3 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “Reading the Medieval Mediterranean: Navigation, Maps, and Literary Geographies. Questions, Approaches, and Methods” by Roberta Morosini (Wake Forest).

The Italian Research Seminar is sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

Thursday, November 7 at 5:00pm | Professor Ege. With the Knife. In the Library. Solving the Murder of 200 Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Twentieth-Century America” by Scott Gwara (University of South Carolina).

This lecture is co-sponsored by Rare Books & Special Collections and the Medieval Institute

 

The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019) and Knute Rockne All American (October – November 2019). Both spotlight exhibits feature materials from the University Archives.

RBSC is open regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm)
during Notre Dame’s Fall Break (October 19 – 27)

Newly Joined Reading Room: Special Collections and University Archives

Over the summer Rare Books & Special Collections and University Archives began combining patron services by launching our joint reading room. All researchers wishing to use materials from either collection should now come to Rare Books & Special Collections (Hesburgh Library 102) located on the ground floor of the Hesburgh Library near the West entrance. For researchers who have used University Archives in the past (located on the 6th floor of Hesburgh Library), please come to the Special Collections front desk to inquire about and to consult University Archives’ materials.

If you are looking for materials from either collection, there are numerous ways to search Special Collections and Archives holdings:

NDCatalog contains all cataloged books, pamphlets, periodicals, broadsides, prints, posters, published materials, single manuscript volumes, and small archival collections held by RBSC.

To find large archival collections for both Special Collections and University Archives, you can search NDArchiveSpace.  While most of these collections are also discoverable in the catalog, NDArchivesSpace goes much deeper, allowing researchers to discover many more names, dates, and content types than are included in the catalog record.

“Collections and Formats” on the RBSC website.

“About Our Collections” on the University Archives website.

In addition, both Rare Books & Special Collections and University Archives hold other materials that are not currently discoverable in the library catalog, NDArchivesSpace, or on their respective websites. Because of this, researchers may also want to contact staff directly about their research projects to see if there are other materials that may be of use.


Reading Room hours for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020

Monday – Friday       9am – 5pm*
Saturday – Sunday    Closed
Major holidays          Closed

Check for the most up-to-date hours

*Please note: materials in the reading room will be collected from researchers at 4:45pm