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Envisioning the Future of Catholic Religious Archives

Posted 7/24/2018

Three Ursuline Sisters attended a Boston College Conference, July 1 – 13, to explore issues around religious collections and preservation of archival materials.

Sisters Donna Frey, Carol Reamer and Margaret Manion met with archivists, historians and leadership to discuss, share experiences, questions and concerns about best practices in preserving archival materials archives. There were individual presentations, panels, table sharing, lightning rounds and opportunities to talk with one another on the management of various archival programs.

The goal of the conference is to create a white paper that will be drafted and circulated among those who attended as a step toward developing a national strategic plan to assist religious communities in preserving their heritage and lasting legacy.

Topics addressed were:
• Setting the Stage – concerns, expectations and goals
• What do we know? – results of surveys of religious leaders, archivists and historians conducted prior to the conference
• What is the ideal? – small group discussions on individual archival situations, networking
• How do we transmit Charism to the future? – how do we preserve and determine what is of lasting value?
• How do I envision the future? – small groups with a goal of surfacing practical action steps
• What are the options? – a sharing of what three religious communities are currently doing
• Lightning rounds – that covered eight areas, such as hiring an archival consultant, transfer of materials to a university archives, hiring a professional archivist, interns and volunteers, writing a community history