Back in October 2020, we published a notice of a large new accession that the Archives acquired from the basement of Carney Hospital in Boston, formerly owned and operated by the Daughters.
We are happy to announce that this collection has been processed and is now open to researchers!
This collection fills in numerous gaps in the Carney collection where evolving communities in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston sought care, particularly as the composition of the neighborhood transitioned from immigrants primarily of European descent to new waves of arrivals from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
Of note in the collection are medical manuals from the turn of the century that provided doctors and nurses with instructions on treating different ailments, as well as a hand-written letter from former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy from 1967. In this letter, she thanks Sister Helen Kelly, the hospital administrator at the time, for her support in founding the Kennedy Presidential Library in the Dorchester neighborhood, an unpopular position at the time among some Dorchester residents due to effects due to the influx of tourists and increase in noise from expanded train yards.
Thanks to Mary Wootton, conservator in Gettysburg, PA, two of the St. Joseph’s Academy scrapbooks are available to researchers once again! These two books had fallen completely apart at the binding, and pages had a hodgepodge of sealed and unsealed items, some so large as to be damaging the binding and some uncovered and acidic enough to slowly burn pages away.
Today, we would like to highlight one of these books, the “Tablet of Friendship” owned by Mary Teresa Devine, which was donated by Judith Cristella, a direct descendent of Mary Teresa. She first enrolled in St. Joseph’s Academy in 1826, a few years after Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the school, passed away. She spent the next few years on the growing and expanding campus.
The book itself is a dark green (Or brown? Or black? We think green), covered and bound in sheepskin, which was the cheapest form of leather used at the time. The book would have been a mass-produced product of the early industrial age and not been overly expensive, similar to a blank journal or diary available at a bookstore today. It is what is inside that makes this a great relic of the Archives.
Based upon the dates included in the pieces, the book came into existence quite a while after Mary Teresa attended the Academy. Nonetheless, this shows the networks that formed between students of the Academy and their enduring closeness. But perhaps most importantly, many of the pieces were signed by their authors, providing us with actual written work attached to known individuals, a relative rarity of this time period for women not affiliated with high-status positions or families. Even when only a first name exists, as in the piece below, the fact that the book contains an entire class list makes it easy to track down individual’s last name.
In addition to the students themselves, the book also provides valuable resources for researchers of Catholic and material culture in this time period, including inserted, mass-market imagery.
And on the artistic front, the book contains inserted pieces in the unique medium of leaves. This very delicate work made of organic matter managed to survive for over 150 years until it was secured in a special case to provide support and a stable climate.
The scrapbooks are available on-site. Although they are not yet digitized, we are hoping this can be accomplished in the near-future.
This is part two of a four-part series on the history of the four primary campuses in the Province, which correspond to the locations where the four provinces that formed the Province of St. Louise had their provincial houses: Emmitsburg, MD; Albany, NY; Evansville, IN; and St. Louis, MO. Part one on the Emmitsburg campus can be found here.
January 4, 1969 would be a momentous day for the American Daughters of Charity; two U.S. provinces – one in Emmitsburg, MD and the other in Normandy, MO – were to be re-organized into five provinces. Among them, a new Northeast Province was to begin to create its own history.
Preparations for the change had been taking place for months. In October 1968, Sister Mary Basil Roarke accepted her position as the first Visitatrix of the new province and in December travelled to Jamaica, Queens, New York City to begin establishing a temporary Provincial House at the DePaul House of Study.
In 1970, the question of a permanent Provincial House was discussed, and Albany, New York was selected as the best site due to its central geographic point within the province with a long history with the community. The property in Menands was purchased from the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who were looking to downsize their infrastructural footprint due to declining numbers. The final contracts for the purchase were signed on April 19, 1971. Sisters Margaret Finnegan and Caroline Mooney oversaw the preparations of the new home, and the first moving vans left New York City for the Capital Region on July 3.
The house was comprised of Sisters serving in Provincial governance and Sisters who served in the Ministry of prayer (who lived in the area that became known as St. Louise House). The campus was also home to the Seminary for sisters in Formation until 1990, when an interprovincial Seminary was established for the Northeast and Southeast Provinces in Emmitsburg.
In 1995, a new office building was constructed for the Provincial Council’s and Visitatrix’s work in governance so that the St. Louise sisters could have a larger oratory and activity space. In 1998, the community saw their merger with the Canadian province of the Daughters of Charity, creating a truly binational province. Both flags fly on campus to this day.
In 2011, the Northeast province became part of the new Province of St. Louise, along with three other provinces in North America. Facing their own declining numbers, the Albany campus began a process of transition, as the Daughters partnered with Franciscan Ministries to continue to care for the Sisters who live and serve in Albany, as well as to provide senior living space in a faith-based environment to those living in upstate New York.
The campus has been home to the Daughters for over 50 years, and to the sisters who originally came from that province, remains a deeply important place in their lives and ministries.