The Catholic University of America

Oct. 21, 2011

Finding Aids Detail Collections of Catholic Lay Women

  National Council of Catholic Women

Members of the National Council of Catholic Women (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

The University Archives recently launched finding aids detailing items in two collections that pertain to Catholic lay women.

Four Catholic University library and information science graduate students — all women — completed the finding aids, which are online inventories of collections that are housed at the archives.

One of the finding aids provides background on the collection for the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) and spans the years 1918 to 2000.

The NCCW was established as part of the National Catholic Welfare Council (now known as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). The organization consists of more than 4,000 affiliated Catholic women's organizations in parishes and dioceses throughout the U.S., representing hundreds of thousands of Catholic women.

The NCCW provided representation at the national and international level for American Catholic women concerned with the moral and religious welfare of humanity in general and women in particular, notes W. John Shepherd, associate archivist.

As a junior archivist in the 1990s, Shepherd performed the initial organization of the NCCW records and hoped to upgrade the quality and detail later. Despite the efforts in 2000 by student worker Suni Johnson, who earned a master’s in library science in 2001, much work remained to be done.

“Fortunately, in the spring 2011 semester we had the efforts of Cecilia Cho (M.S.L.S. 2011), who contributed 120 hours as part of a library science practicum requirement, which substantially moved the project along,” Shepherd notes.

Lauren Kanne, a former student worker and a 2011 library science graduate who now works part time in the Archives, completed the preparation of the online finding aid.

The collection contains administrative records and minutes, correspondence, project notes, publications, photographs, and scrapbooks.

Daughters of Isabella  
A Daughters of Isabella parade (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

The other finding aid details the collection of the Daughters of Isabella (DOI). The collection covers items from the organization’s beginnings in 1897 until approximately 2006. Established in 1897 in New Haven, Conn., as a ladies' auxiliary to the Knights of Columbus, DOI is a Catholic lay women’s charitable organization.

“The Daughters of Isabella collection is important because it documents the history of a national Catholic lay women’s organization that was responsible for many charitable activities, including donations to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and funding scholarships at CUA’s National Catholic School of Social Service,” says Ingrid Jamison, one of the current graduate students who worked on the finding aid.

“My practicum experience was good preparation for professional archival work,” she says. “It was fascinating to get a glimpse into the works and lives of Catholic lay women during the past century through the variety of materials in this collection.”

Graduate student Sarah Rice Scott also worked on the finding aid.

Materials include foundation documents; legal documentation; financial records; board of directors' minutes; convention minutes, workbooks, and programs; English and French constitutions; English and French ceremonials; state and local circle records; disbanded circle records; scrapbooks; newspaper clippings; photographs and slides; videos; and artifacts.

For a list of other finding aids, visit To find out more about accessing collections in the Archives, visit



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