The Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross traces its origin to Le Mans, France, when in 1841 four women received the religious habit from Father Basil Moreau, founder. In 1843 some sisters arrived at Notre Dame, Indiana, to assist the Holy Cross priests and brothers, and to begin their ministry of education. Later their ministries expanded to include health care when in the Civil War, 64 of the 160 sisters in the United States nursed the sick and wounded primarily in the Midwest. Their services were again called for during the Spanish-American War when 12 sisters served in the Army camps in Kentucky and Georgia. In subsequent years the missions of the Sisters of the Holy Cross expanded to include not only many parts of the United States, but also Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, India, Mexico, Peru and Uganda.
The archives of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, located at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, include records from 1843 to the present date. The early records are sketchy, but around 1889 an attempt was made to recapture communal memories including missions in the United States and service of the sisters in the Civil War. Records for the sisters’ services in the Spanish-American War are quite complete.
The archives department is the repository for official documents pertaining to the Congregation. It keeps all records of significant events in the lives and ministries of the sisters, narratives sent each year by the local communities, and official documents from general and regional administrations. It is also the repository for student records from Congregation-sponsored educational institutions that have closed.
In addition to the special collection of emergency services of the sisters in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and Refugee Nursing with Cambodian and Laotian refugees in Thailand, the archives is the repository for official documents of the Holy Cross History Association. These include papers delivered at the annual Holy Cross History Conferences. From 1982 to 2009 approximately 260 papers have been given. The purpose of the association is “to promote and stimulate historical study of and research on those religious communities (priests, brothers and sisters) which trace their origins to the Father Basil Moreau of Le Mans, France.”