Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence 1828-1860 (2002)

The book presents the history of the first

African American Roman Catholic sisterhood in the United States. The Oblate Sisters of Providence was founded in Baltimore in 1828. It became a religious beacon for Black and African-American women of virtue who defended both their right to formal inclusion in the Roman Catholic church, as well as the dignity of their racial and cultural identity. They were fervent religious educators, who took on the task of furthering the upward mobility of their race. Intersectional female community leaders like these are often forgotten in the larger historical debates around African-American progress, but it is worthwhile to reconsider local histories to find unlikely community activists and social actors. Read an excerpt:

“Sixty manuscript pages of enrollment data record the details of tuition payments for ninety-four pupils who registered in the Oblate school between June 1828 and April 1834…The mission of the Oblate Sisters engaged the support of a broad spectrum of the Baltimore black community. Working-class people as well as the small elite rallied to the Oblate cause. From their beginning the sisters had housed and educated without charge a number of poor girls designated ‘children of the house.'” (pp. 102-103)

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