By Mindy S. Gordon, Director, Archives and Museum
For American Archives Month this past October, we honor the assistance provided by sister volunteers in the Congregation’s Archives at Mount Saint Vincent. Each sister devotes time and provides extensive knowledge to the description of the rich historical materials in the collections. Though hesitant to accept this written applause, their names and contributions are noted as a sincere ‘Thank You’ for their significant service to the Archives and the legacy of the Congregation.
Sr. Elizabeth Vermaelen, a former President of the Congregation and teacher, works on a myriad of archival projects. Relied upon for her institutional memory, Sr. Elizabeth provides detailed information about the Community’s history. Sr. Elizabeth has composed biographical narratives for many of the sisters who lived during the 19th and early 20th centuries to honor the legacy of each of these dedicated women. It is anticipated that the biographies with available images will be published as an online exhibit on the scny.org website. Sr. Elizabeth has just completed a project, “Family Connections,” to detail related members of the Community.
Sr. Mary Clancy, a former teacher, is the resident Excel spreadsheet expert. Lending her technical expertise to work on computer projects, Sr. Mary has been able to update and combine information from computer files to create a finding aid for the folders pertaining to Congregants and former members. Sr. Mary has spent many hours providing identification for photographs of sisters, events and locations. Sr. Mary’s current project is to scan the sisters’ record cards.
Sr. Linda Giuli, a former nurse practitioner, volunteered at the Archives for over five years. Throughout many projects, Sr. Linda has engaged in photograph identification, arrangement of materials and detailed organization of documents. Based upon Sr. Linda’s familiarization with Sr. Margaret Beaudette’s many sculptures, she has created an ordered inventory of the hundreds of photographs that represent the magnificent sculptures at different locations in the world. Most recently, Sr. Linda has scanned record cards of Congregation members to contribute to a shared database for administrative access.
Sr. Margaret Donegan, a former teacher, provides reference assistance for both in-house special projects and external reference inquiries. Before the isolation of the pandemic, Sr. Margaret began most weekdays at the Archives conducting research for the writings contributed to the ‘Re-membering Project.’ Using her detective skills to navigate the wealth of documentation in the Archives, Sr. Margaret discovered the burial locations for sisters as part of the committee for the Cemetery Project. When Sr. Margaret has additional time, we are grateful for her involvement in photograph identification, and exemplary proofreading skills.
Sr. Kevin Phillips, former instructor and the last Director at the St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing, is the expert relied upon to guide description of the extensive documents and photographs representing the hospital’s archive. By explaining the administrative structure of the hospital and identifying images and artifacts, Sr. Kevin can detail the vital connection that existed between the Hospital staff and the Greenwich Village community. Sr. Kevin provides the added value of enhancing the level of information that can be discerned from the existing documentation, vital to arranging and describing this important collection.
Sr. Pat Quinn and Sr. Kieran Mulligan, both former elementary school teachers, work as a team at the Archives on archive, museum and library projects. As the ‘Textile Advisory Committee,’ Srs. Pat and Kieran have prepared habits to loan for commemoration events and theatrical productions. Working at twice the speed of most, they remove compromised materials from old frames, identify and sort artifacts that may be used for exhibit display, and reduce worn archive boxes to recycling material. They approach each job with enthusiasm and keep us all smiling!
Thank you to Srs. Elizabeth, Mary, Linda, Margaret, Kevin, Pat and Kieran for your interest in history and dedication to preserving the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of New York.