Tag Archives: Daughters of Charity

The Hospital Newsletters

The Daughters of Charity were extensively involved in many hospitals over the years, dating back to 1823 in answer to a call to staff the Baltimore Infirmary.  The predecessor Provinces that combined in 2011 to form our current Province of St. Louise sponsored and/or operated many hospitals stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Coast. 

In the 1950s and ‘60s, almost every hospital the Daughters owned or operated began publishing a newsletter, which documented some of the special events, major changes, and goings-on among doctors, staff, and administrators.  Essentially, they functioned as the newspapers of the hospitals and, as such, contained information that is valuable both to scholars and to general researchers. 

For example, the News Notes of Providence Hospital provides a chronicle of the Hospital’s move from Detroit to Southfield, Michigan over the course of 1964 and 65.

In February 1985, the Lifeline, out of Seton Medical Center in Austin, reported on the Hospital and its service during and after a rare Texas snowstorm, providing a resource to a specific event in the history of Central Texas as it related to the hospital. 

The Esprit de Corps out of Hotel Dieu in New Orleans made sure to list every new student in the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing in 1948 – one of the earliest newsletters from any of the hospitals.  For those researching a parent, aunt, or grandparent who attended the school, these newsletters continue to provide an opportunity for more information or photographs.

For those with family members who worked at the hospitals, these newsletters often mention or profile staff members, particularly those who were there for extended periods of time.

Currently, the newsletters are available on-site, but not yet available in digitized form.  However, they can easily be searched by staff with a location and a year range provided by the researcher.

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Filed under Archives, Hospitals, Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Providence Hospital, Southfield, Seton Medical Center, Austin

Our Four Campuses: Albany, New York

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. 

The Dorchester Place Provincial House in Queens, New York City
The Dorchester Place Provincial House, Queens, first provincial house of the Northeast Province

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.

Sister Mary Basil Roarke receives a blessing from Father Joseph Tinnelly, C.M., 1971
Sister Mary Basil Roarke, Visitatrix, receiving the blessing of Father Joseph Tinnelly, C.M., Provincial Director, at the opening of the new Provincial House, 1971

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.

The American and Canadian flags on the Albany campus
The binational flags on campus

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.

Aerial view of the Albany campus in autumn facing west southwest, 1988
Campus in autumn, facing west southwest, 1988


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The Life of an Archival Intern

This is a guest post by our archival intern for the semester, Jenna Brady, Mount St. Mary’s University class of 2023.

My time at this internship has been a very enlightening experience, as it has served to not only give me more information on the history of the Daughters of Charity, but has also been extremely instructive about the processes of archival work. I have had the opportunity to work on many different projects while I have been working at the Daughters of Charity Archives including recording West Provincial Newsletters from the 1970s, transcribing Italian letters, transcribing the oral history of Sister Isidore Allain, and assisting in putting together one of the exhibits that are on display. In this post, I would like to discuss my encounters with each of these projects and highlight some of the skills I have been provided with through my work.

The first project that I was able to focus on during the internship was going through the newsletters from the 1970s of the West Central Province. The newsletters chronicled many important events that happened for the sisters throughout that time including the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and many important meetings that would take place in Rome that the sisters would attend. The newsletters also served to chronicle the monthly lives of the sisters and their many placements throughout the province. These newsletters showed the progression of the province as things around them began to change in the world during the 70s. I recorded all of these newsletters into an excel sheet that will provide information about people and places mentioned within the newsletters so that it is easier to pinpoint the information.

While working in the archives, I also had the opportunity to listen to and transcribe the oral history of Sister Isidore Allain. This allowed me not only to hear Sister Allain’s story through her own words but also to understand all of the work that goes into transcribing an oral history. Its an experience that will certainly stick with me as I was able to hear a firsthand account of history from the direct word of the woman who lived through it. It also helped me to see how an individual story tied into the overarching period of the West Central Province.

The final project that I want to mention working on is the exhibit that recently opened in the archives on April 26th. There are now two new exhibits open in the archives both focusing on the lives and works of the sisters of the province. The exhibit that I was able to assist with highlights all those who live and work at the Emmitsburg campus in the different departments. It was an honor learning about all of the different departments and people who assist throughout the various ministries that occur here.

The experiences that I have had while working at the Daughters of Charity Archives have given me a deeper understanding of everything that is included in archival work and it has been an honor being able to learn so many new things. I have truly enjoyed my time here and look forward to learning even more about the sisters in the future.

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Filed under Archives