National Archives Month with the Sisters of Charity
October is National Archives Month and the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill certainly have reason to celebrate! The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) announced that the congregation is one of 18 institutions selected from a total of 59 applications to receive a grant through the Recordings at Risk awards program. Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Recordings at Risk is a national re-granting program administered by CLIR to support the preservation of rare and unique audio and audiovisual content of high scholarly value. The CLIR review panel has recommended Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill for grant in the amount of $29,925 to support the project “Conserving the Charism: Preservation of the Oral Histories and Legacy of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill.”
The Archives of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill preserves the history and missions of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, an international, apostolic community of Catholic women religious. Archivists Sister Louise Grundish and Casey Bowser will work in collaboration with the Northeast Document Conservation Center to reformat 165 at-risk oral history compact cassette tapes and 25 ¼” open reel recordings as part of a pilot project to digitize 700 oral histories in our collection. The oral histories explore life in religious community and preserve firsthand accounts of the sisters in their various missions. The open reel tape recordings document subjects such as the congregation’s missions to Korea and the canonization of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Audio material will be made available to the public as “Sister Spotlights” with contextual photographs and documents added by interns from Seton Hill University. This 9-month project will be valuable to individuals studying religious communities, women’s history, Catholic history, education, healthcare, and much more.
The Council on Library and Information Resources (www.clir.org) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institution, and communities of higher learning. According to the CLIR website, audio and audiovisual recordings document vital, irreplaceable aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century life, but substantial proportions of this legacy will be lost due to the fragility and obsolescence of audio and audiovisual media. For more than 20 years, CLIR has partnered with organizations to help raise awareness about the legal and practical threats to audio and audiovisual content. If current professionals fail to act, vast quantities of both audio and audiovisual content will remain inaccessible, poorly understood, and will ultimately be lost.
You may learn more about CLIR and the Recordings at Risk Program clir.org. Visit the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill Archives at Caritas Christi during National Archives Month and the read the Archives’ blog at https://scsharchives.wordpress.com/author/scsharchives/.