March 30, 2017

Catholic News Service covered a panel on archives of religious orders that was hosted by the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The history of women and men religious in the United States is the history of American Catholicism and their archives reflect the rich role many played in weaving the fabric of the U.S. church, said a group of historians, scholars and archivists at a March 29 gathering in Washington to discuss religious order archives.

Archives particularly show the roles women religious played in the country's education, hospitals, immigrant communities and social movements, they said, and yet there's a danger of losing some of that history -- as well as that of their male counterparts -- as religious orders consolidate, convents merge or close, and their historical materials are discarded, lost or scattered.

When it comes to the records produced by the religious ministries of women religious, they tend to tell a richer story than official diocesan history, said Mary Beth Fraser Connolly, a panelist in "For Posterity: Religious Order Archives and the Writing of American Catholic History," part of a daylong series of events at The Catholic University of America aimed at discussing the fate of religious order archives.

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