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"Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America": Traveling Exhibit Makes Debut
Organized by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, a traveling museum exhibit, will debut at the Cincinnati Museum Center in May 2009, travel to Galveston, Texas, until December and be hosted by the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, from January to April 2010.
The exhibit displays a wealth of stunning photographs, rare artifacts and firsthand narratives that tell the story of American women religious who helped to shape the nation's social and cultural landscape as they established educational and healthcare systems and provided social services that have served millions.
Visitors to the exhibit may be surprised to discover the roles Catholic sisters have played in such significant historical moments as the Civil War, the Gold Rush, the influenza epidemic, the civil-rights movement, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and other significant events in U.S. history.
Arranged according to themes such as Pioneer Spirit, Slavery and Prejudice, For Community and Country, It's Elementary, and Community and Nation Building, the exhibit is enhanced by media components that include an introductory projection experience, oral-history listening stations, interactives and videos of archival footage.
Artifacts on loan from over 400 congregations include a handwritten letter from President Thomas Jefferson, ensuring the freedom of the Ursuline Sisters; the diary of sister Clare Joseph, OCD, recounting her 1790 cross-Atlantic journey to help found the first community in the original thirteen states; an infant incubator, based on a prototype made from a cigar humidor by Sister Pulcharia, OSF; a shirt belonging to Sister Dorothy Kazel, OSU, who was murdered in El Salvador; and a letter from the Surgeon General, thanking the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia for their service to soldiers from both sides of the Civil War.
Initiated as a way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of LCWR, the exhibit has grown in scope and size. The national board of LCWR appointed Sister Helen Maher Garvey, BVM, chair of the History Committee and a number of other religious who represented the background and skills necessary to form the collection.
The collection is available for bookings. To learn more about the exhibit, visit the website at http://www.womenandspirit.org/.