Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Interdisciplinary Studies, Historical Geography
Christine A. Ogren
From the arrival of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1843 through the death of their foundress in 1887, the BVMs created a group identity that they spread through the dispersion of their schools and that they maintained through regular written and personal contact. The identity they maintained was definitely religious in nature, but it was also equally secular. The BVMs provided a type of teaching that historians and geographers of U.S. education have not yet fully investigated, namely Catholic education. These women regularly taught and administered for lifelong careers; interactions among the women teachers and administrators were both deeply personal and pointedly professional; and these U.S. teachers actively supported and benefited from centralization. The research explores the dispersion pattern of the BVM school system, the nature of the institution through the experiences of BVM teachers and administrators, and the importance of recognizing the intertwining secular and sacred aspects of the congregation and its schools. Rather than reducing U.S. education to public education, the findings in this dissertation about BVM teachers and their schools call for a more nuanced understanding of U.S. education in general, one that includes Catholic education as a part of the whole.
Copyright 2009 Rachel Katherine Daack Riley