- November 5, 2018
The Congregation of the Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ) consolidated the archives of their Albany, Los Angeles/Hawaii, and St. Louis provinces, and their congregational office to one place, the Carondelet Consolidated Archive, located on the St. Louis province campus. Archivists Sister Jane Behlmann, CSJ and Catherine Lucy share about the new consolidated archive, how it services the provinces and how it will help carry the mission of the CSJs into the future.
Meet Jane Behlmann
Sister Jane Behlmann, CSJ is the director of the Carondelet Consolidated Archive and archivist for the St. Louis province. She came to the archives department in 2004 from Fontbonne University, where she spent 28 years working in the library. Before the work at Fontbonne, she was an elementary music teacher. S. Jane has a master’s in library science.
Meet Catherine Lucy
Catherine Lucy began as the assistant archivist for the Carondelet Consolidated Archive on Aug. 1. Catherine has worked in libraries for over 20 years, mostly in academic, but also some public library experience. About six years ago, she picked up some archival work when working at Fontbonne University. Her position was half cataloger in the library and half archivist. After picking up those archivist duties, she decided that she was destined to work in archives. Catherine went back to school will graduate in the spring with her masters in library science with a concentration in archival studies.
Tell us about the new Carondelet Consolidated Archive.
J: The congregational archivists decided to consolidate all the congregation archives in one place. Though the conversation to consolidate started way back in 1994, the decision to finally do so really came out of the 2013 Acts of Chapter, which called us to oneness—to deepen communion and act in new ways as one congregation. The congregation archives came in over a year ago and are housed with the St. Louis archives, separately though. Then, we renovated another space—the new Cold Room—and brought in the Albany, Los Angeles and Hawaii archives.
Why is the St. Paul archive not included in the consolidated archive? Do you collaborate with them?
J: We keep a connection to all the provinces, including St. Paul. St. Paul is always included in our ZOOM calls. We collaborate in everything we do. St. Paul didn’t feel like their collection would get the use that it does in St. Paul by coming to St. Louis, so they decided to stay there. But we are definitely collaborating in all different ways.
What is the purpose of the consolidated archive?
J: Our purpose is to gather, preserve, and make available the collective memory of the congregation. The archive should enable us to know who we are and from whom we descended. So we collect, protect, arrange and provide official records relating to our history, foundation, expansion and achievements of each province in whatever form they happen—audio visual formats or paper format. People doing research don’t have to go to four different provinces to find things, they can come to one place.
What is happening with the new archive?
C: With the new items that came in from the other provinces, I am helping do an inventory of the books more specifically. Each province has their own collection of books, so we are consolidating those physically and in our database so they’ll all be searchable in one database and we can find particular books. I am reclassifying all of them and they will be shelved together as one collection. Down the road, we’ll be looking at audio visual materials and digital files and working to preserve those long term.
How will the Consolidated Archives work?
J: Each province will have an archive liaison to the consolidated archive. When sisters die, the archivists will gather those records once the death certificate is with the collection and send those to St. Louis. We have a records retention schedule, so they’ll send records from province offices when it’s time for those. We work very closely together and it’s a good working relationship.
What challenges have you faced?
C: The challenges for me are working with the materials—the items that we do need to physically move to one collection and reclassify and add to our database. That is one challenge. Fortunately, we aren’t dealing with thousands of items. Collectively, between the different provinces’ book collections, there is maybe 1,000-1,300 items, so it’s not too bad. I was really impressed with the movers and how well they had everything organized and put on the shelves in the correct way. It’s really helped us be able to just get into the files and see what’s there and not have to worry about trying to organize them too much.
How does the CCA help carry the mission of the CSJs into the future? What are your goals?
C: A future goal is conducting digital preservation and curation on the files. We are going to do an inventory of what needs to be digitized, what already is digitized and then have a plan for preserving that over time. A lot of what my position is going to be is handling electronic resources. We want to make sure that if we digitize an old VHS tape that we’re going to do it properly the first time. Then, we’re going to make sure that digital file is copied and backed up, and if it ever needs to be migrated to a new system, we’re going to take care of that, too. This isn’t something where the audio visual materials are just going to be sitting in the cold room and we don’t know if they’re going to work 50 years from now. We’re working to make sure that all of these items are going to be accessible for as long as possible.
J: We’ll probably be putting some of this on an online database for access as well.
CARONDELET CONSOLIDATED ARCHIVE BLESSING
On Oct. 15, Founders Day, sisters, sisters, associates, congregational archivists, and friends gathered for a special blessing in celebration of the new Carondelet Consolidated Archives. Sister Jane Behlmann blessed the entrance of the new archive space (pictured above). Everyone then raised their hands in blessing and prayed together:
We bless this entrance of our new archives. May it welcome us to this special site of both memories and hope. Trusting in the dying and rising of Christ, we continue to write our legacy on tablets so we may read it clearly and continue the vision of our forebearers to serve the neighbor without distinction.
May the blessing of God, our Creator the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, come live within us. May her love empower us and may we together walk on holy ground.