Marie Davis And Margaret Hultz 2017-05-03 13:28:00
“There’s an app for that” also applies to archives. Now you can share your primary source documents with a growing digital public through a fresh form of storytelling—by combining entertainment and information in an app. An app can easily incorporate primary documents, music, photographs, film, and other media from a wide range of resources. Archives are filled with intriguing stories. Consider the case of Sister Lucy, a musical prodigy and nurse in Kentucky early in the Civil War who was beloved by her patients. She was a Sister of Charity of Nazareth (SCN), a Roman Catholic religious congregation. Her story, which immediately captured our attention, became the topic of an award-winning app called Civil War Truce—The Remarkable Story of Sister Lucy. When we began to research Sister Lucy, primary source documents were scarce. Floods, fire, and time had destroyed many resources. Kathy Hertle-Baker, director of the SCN archives, uncovered some documentation and photographs, but it contained only two documented sentences spoken by Sister Lucy. Was There More? The search took us to the archives at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The Sisters of the Holy Cross, another religious congregation, had also served in the same area as Sister Lucy during the Civil War. A phone call to the congregration’s archives put us in touch with Sister Madeline Therese Wilhoit, CSC, who invited us to conduct research. Not only did we find references to Sister Lucy, but we also found amazing stories about other Sister-nurses of the Holy Cross—in their own words! The stories of these brave women religious in military hospitals and a naval hospital steamboat would become the subject of another app, Willing Hearts—Sisters of the Holy Cross—Civil War Nurses (www.willingheartsapp.com). In Their Own Words Within days of volunteering to serve as nurses, the Sisters of the Holy Cross found themselves in Paducah, Kentucky, with scant supplies, the times ahead nearly impossible to envision. Sister M. Paula Casey wrote about her arrival: Of course we never knew what war was until that 7 [sic] day of Dec 1861. Then we tasted it to the fullest extent. Their service is an amazing story of faith, courage, and joy amid a divisive time in our country. In her memoirs, Sister M. Anthony Mannix recalled: Sisters had little time for idleness or recreation; and yet we were able sometimes to snatch a few moments from our duties to recount some of the happenings of the day; some of the most comical experiences in spite of the sadness of our surroundings. During a hospital tour by medical dignitaries, the Sisters employed their formidable humor: As we had ventured to make some severe comments ourselves upon the rather inadequate cooking implements [sic], the Lady Superior [Mother Angela] exclaimed laughingly, ‘If you find fault with our cooking stove Doctor what will you say to our washing machines, and held up her little fists with their ten digits raw from work in the hospital. This was too much for civilized humanity. We could only beat a hasty retreat with a tearful assurance to the laughing Sisters that we would never rest until we knew they were provided with everything necessary for carrying forward their sublime work of charity and self-denial. Mother M. Augusta Anderson remembered her first day in a military hospital: We were not prepared as nurses, but our hearts made our hands willing and our sympathy ready, and so with God’s help, we did much towards alleviating the dreadful suffering. The Sisters faced difficulties head on, saving countless lives. They helped establish procedures that became the roots of the modern nursing profession. Serving on the naval ship USS Red Rover, they are now considered the foremothers of the Navy Nurse Corp. One of the most touching documents found is a letter from Sister Mary Anne Dorsey from the Mound City, Illinois, hospital. In this letter, Sister Mary Anne tenderly informs a family of their son’s death. The letter demonstrates the high level of aid the Sisters gave to those in their care, and is included in the Willing Hearts app. The Work Of Many As lay historians, we rely on archivists to guide us through their holdings to tell the stories that deserve to be told. When developing the Willing Hearts app, we worked with Sister Jeanette Fettig, CSC, who pulled materials of interest,recounted their stories, so that we could winnow the many documents into a narrative. Drafts of the Willing Hearts story were shared with Sister Timothea Kingston and Sister Catherine Osimo, who gave thoughtful ideas and feedback for revision. An app allows for a multimedia approach. Other Sisters generously contributed their voices to Willing Hearts. The Loretto Choir recorded a beautiful version of a period song, “Tenting Tonight.” Sister Catherine organized voiceover readings by Holy Cross Sisters of their Sister-nurses’ letters. Their story was “apptly” told. Davis Studio Publishing focuses on Kentucky’s multicultural history and women’s history. Willing Hearts—Sisters of the Holy Cross—Civil War Nurses recently won a gold medal for Exemplary Christian Literature.
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