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New Accession: Carney Hospital, Boston

Carney Hospital, circa late 1950s

Materials that are no longer in active or even inactive use by members of the community or at sponsored works of the community steadily make their way to the archives. Sometimes, however, materials get left behind. Sometimes they get left behind for a LONG time.

The Daughters of Charity sponsored and operated Carney Hospital from 1863 until 1997, when administration was transferred to the non-profit health care system run by the Archdiocese of Boston, Caritas Christi.

Before leaving Carney Hospital, Sister De Chantal La Row, the last Daughter of Charity Administrator of the Andrew Carney Hospital, supervised the process of organizing and labelling the collection of archive boxes and memorabilia for shipment. The Archdiocese, through Caritas Christi, was instructed to then ship the collection to The Provincial Archives of the Daughters of Charity for the Northeast Province, located at that time, in Albany, New York. In 2011, the entire archive of the Northeast Province was shipped to Emmitsburg, MD as part of the creation of the Province of St. Louise, including the Carney Hospital collection. It currently consists of 46 archival boxes, nearly 3 dozen oversized pieces, and nearly a dozen artifacts.

100th anniversary banquet of Carney Hospital, oversized and matted (and water damaged)

For reasons unknown, the entire collection never made its way to Albany, and several boxes of records got left behind. From 1997-2015, first Diane Loupo and then Ann Hart monitored the records as they traversed various storerooms around the Hospital, where they lived at the mercy of leaking pipes, hot Boston summers, cold Massachusetts winters, and poor ventilation. In 2018, Ann intervened before the garbage trucks could destroy the materials that never managed to make their way to Albany.

Binders of newspaper clippings from the new accession

About 18 months ago, Sister Maryadele Robinson, a Daughter of Charity for 37 years, who currently serves as Director Emeritus of Laboure Center in Boston, learned from about a room full of archival materials from Dr. James Morgan, the Chief of Cardiology at the now Steward Carney Hospital. They informed Emilia Pisani, archivist for Laboure Center, about the materials. These are the individuals, along with Ann Hart, to whom we at the Daughters of Charity owe a debt of gratitude as archivists and those concerned with preserving the history of the community.

On Friday, October 9, after a year and a half delayed by meetings, staff changes, and the logistics of a global pandemic, the material finally made it to Emmitsburg, all 157 boxes and items of it.

Moving the collection into quarantine

Emilia worked hundreds of hours to prepare an inventory of the materials, through acidic folders and deteriorating boxes. Thanks to the inventory that Emilia created, we can catch some glimpses of what is in the collection. The oldest materials date to 1850, although the bulk comes from the period of 1950-1997. Not only does this collection provide insight into the business operations of the hospital, but it also documents the surrounding community of Dorchester as population and demographics changed in the community over 150 years. It will also provide vital importance to genealogists researching family members who worked at the hospital, as these materials contain employee lists and roles that the archives had previously thought long lost. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the materials are, as far as we can tell now, original, worth preserving, and not duplicates of materials already in the archives.

After two weeks in quarantine, we have seen no signs of mold or pests, and we have allowed any chance of COVID on the boxes to die off. We may not get to processing this material for some time, but once we do, we will determine whether we can add this material to the current Carney collection — with a note documenting that it came long after the creation of the initial Carney collection, and with a note of thanks to everyone who made it possible — or if it warrants a complete re-processing of the collection.

Regardless, it has been a long process to acquire this material and begin to preserve it for the future, but even an initial glance shows that it will be worth it.

All 157 boxes and items in the quarantine space

The Daughters of Charity, particularly members of the archives staff, would like to thank Ann Hart, Diane Loupo, Dr. James Morgan, and Sister Maryadele Robinson for their devotion to the poor and to Carney over the years, and for their role in securing this collection. We would particularly like to thank Emilia Pisani, for everything she has done for the last 18 months (including input for this post). She has gone above and beyond anything we would have ever asked of her. When the COVID crisis has passed, she is welcome here in the archives, truly, at any time. Copies are on us.

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The Daughters of Charity and the Women’s Suffrage Movement: Part 3

This is the third and final part of our series on the Daughters of Charity and the Women’s Suffrage Movement throughout the 1910s, leading up to the Presidential Election of November 1920.  The year 2020 marks 100 years since women in the United States won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920.  Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here

After the statements made in prior years by bishops at St. Joseph’s College against suffrage and then the sudden turnaround in response to the rising nativist movements and their attempts to eliminate parochial schools, two entries in October 1920 in the Provincial annals of the Daughters of Charity illustrated the fact that the Daughters and women’s suffrage were now of a like mind, as far as Cardinal Gibbons was concerned:

The “certain bill” mentioned in the second entry was part of a rising nativism in the aftermath of World War I, where individuals and groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, demanded a type of proper Americanness that they considered corrupted and corruptible by Catholicism.  Similar bills gained momentum in Michigan and other states.  Notably, one of the greatest triumph of this movement occurred in Oregon in 1922 with the passage of the Compulsory Education Act, although the Supreme Court struck it down a few years later.

After the long movement for women’s suffrage, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution became law of the land on August 26, 1920, with the final ratification by the state of Tennessee.  When the Daughters voted for the first time on November 2, 1920, the depiction of the day is almost anti-climactic:

The next year on election day, a similar story illustrates the persistence of the issue, yet presents it as almost mundane occurrence:

Throughout the remainder of the 1920s, no mention of election days can be found, almost as if voting had become a routine event for women, no longer a question of debate.     

Daughters of Charity certainly participate in voting today, facing the same concerns that all Americans do regarding the economy, foreign policy, the environment, social justice, roads, parks, religion, and good governance.  Too many issues are on the table to avoid voting.  Too many people have crusaded in the United States for the right to vote to abdicate that responsibility.

Follow through.  Participate in democracy.  Make your voice heard.  Vote.

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The Daughters of Charity and the Women’s Suffrage Movement: Part 2

This is part 2 of our three-part series on the Daughters of Charity and the Women’s Suffrage Movement throughout the 1910s, leading up to the Presidential Election of November 1920.  The year 2020 marks 100 years since women in the United States won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920.  Part 1 can be found here.  Part 3 will run next month.

James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, delivered the commencement address to the young women graduating from the tutelage of the Daughters of Charity of St. Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg four times between 1911 and 1917.  In two of his four addresses, he used his platform to express his opposition towards the rise of the women’s suffrage movement on the grounds that it distorted the proper role of a woman, who, in his opinion, was that of a wife and mother in the home (See part 1 of this series).

In 1918, Father Edward J. Walsh, former President of Niagara University, offered a contrasting view.  In his commencement address, Father Walsh agreed Cardinal Gibbons about the role of women as caretakers and educators, he also supported women and their right to vote as they had possessed it a majority of states at the time (although not Maryland).  And while the priest never fully endorsed the suffrage movement in his speech, he recognized that times were changing, and women would no longer be content to remain on the sidelines of society or denied a place in the workforce. 

Although calling for women to “hold strong to the old traditions” and “keep the old ideals,” Father Walsh also recognized the need for feminine strength and courage in combining old roles with new ones; a small opening in the evolution of women’s rights and status rather than an immediate dismissal toward the movement that Cardinal Gibbons had previously espoused. 

However, a second development in 1919 showed that even Cardinal Gibbons opposition to the suffragists could be changed given the right incentive.  In the Provincial Annals for the year 1919, the shift in support is sudden and clear: 

Cardinal Gibbons cared very deeply about the role of Catholic parochial schools as a means of education, advancement for immigrant families, and a method of instilling faith and values.[1]  In Michigan women could already vote after an amendment to the state constitution in 1918.[2]

Just as Father Walsh’s comfort with women’s greater involvement with the world came at the heels of World War I, where women had entered the industrial workforce in ways not seen before, so too, did another.  In many part of America, anti-German and anti-immigrant sentiment was growing.  A strong portion of this was a resurgence of old anti-Catholic sentiment.  Newsletters like The Menace spread across the country, depicting Catholic schools as places where children were victimized, and proper Protestant families were broken up by shadowy anti-American figures.[3]

Masthead of The Menace, November 11, 1911.  The menace. [volume] (Aurora, Mo.), 11 Nov. 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89066178/1911-11-11/ed-1/seq-1/

Although these newspapers were often published in rural areas, they proved the most popular in the industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest, where urban and immigrant Catholics had the highest level of visibility.[4]  The movement to ban parochial education in the State of Michigan began with the Wayne County Civil League – Wayne County being the location of the multi-ethnic city of Detroit.  Their bill really was as clear-cut as the Provincial Annals described, requiring attendance at public school and outlawing all private schools for children up to age 16. Although the Michigan Legislature defeated the bill, the  anti-Catholic group campaigned for a similar ballot initiative twice more in the next five years.[5]

When similar movements began to pop up in his own Archdiocese of Baltimore, Cardinal Gibbons made a very quick turnaround.  Realizing the need to organize and the potential for women to have a say in the direction of the country, references in the Daughters archives in 1920 and 1921 look very different from the decade beforehand.  In part three of this series, we will look at the accounts of the Daughters of Charity voting for the first time.


[1] John Tracy Ellis, The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons, ed. Francis L. Broderick, Popular edition (Milwaukee:  The Bruce Publishing Company, 1963), 47.

[2] Library of Michigan, “Woman’s Suffrage in Michigan:  A Timeline of the Movement,” June 10, 2010, accessed September 15, 2020, https://www.michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,9327,7-381-88854_89996-518343–,00.html.

[3] Justin Nordtstrom, “A War of Words:  Childhood and Masculinity in American Anti-Catholicism, 1911-1919,” in U.S. Catholic Historian 20 (1), Winter 2002:  57-58; 67.

[4] Nordstrom, 61-62.

[5] Timothy Mark Pies, “The Parochial School Campaigns in Michigan, 1920-1924:  The Lutheran and Catholic Involvement,” in The Catholic Historical Review 72 (2), April 1986:  223-224.

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