The Dominican Sisters of Hope archives department has launched a COVID-19 Year in Review virtual exhibit that details the pandemic, as it relates to the Hope community and the world at large. Through a mix of contemporary and traditional archiving, this exhibit includes archived analog physical records and digital records. It is an example of active archiving, meaning the collection and exhibit were created and curated in real time during the pandemic.
According to Carlinthia Cox, the archivist for the Dominican Sisters of Hope, it is “imperative to document our sisters’ lived experiences during this once-in-a-lifetime event.”
“When this pandemic started, we all looked back at the 1918 pandemic to grasp some understanding of how we coped,” Cox said. “I came to the realization that there wasn’t much documentation of how our sisters fared in previous pandemics, even though we know that the Dominican sisters in Ossining worked in healthcare.”
Cox wanted to create an archive of COVID-19 for the future. She asked sisters to record their personal experiences, and also collected photos and social media posts that documented life while the world coped with the virus. The resulting exhibit is one of the Dominican Sisters of Hope archives’ first community outreach initiatives.
“Since the mission of the archives is to preserve and promote the legacy of the sisters, my goal was to preserve records depicting the sisters’ ability to minister and promote the mission of Hope throughout various periods in history, particularly trying periods,” Cox said.
The prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, Catherine McDonnell, OP, said that the community is “grateful to our archives department for creating a collection and curating an exhibit that showcases a visual message of how our Hope family has remained dedicated to our mission of proclaiming the Gospel message of Hope, even during a pandemic.”
“In a year that brought the discomfort of isolation, sickness, and many unknowns to all of us, this exhibit highlights the ways in which Hope banded together, even when physical presence wasn’t possible, through virtual visits, drive-bys and a festival of zooming,” Sister Cass wrote in a statement. “We’re also thrilled that, as the exhibit invites us to celebrate our jubilarians and reflect upon the lives of our deceased sisters, it likewise shows the ways in which we are now planting seeds of hope in our world as we move into the future.”
As Cox said, the Dominican Sisters of Hope archives contains extensive records of all four congregations, including the three former congregations dating way back to the founding of the Newburgh congregation from Regensburg Germany. These records, which now include the COVID-19 exhibit, are a big part of the history of New York.
“We look forward to sharing this with anyone who is seeking to reflect on the past year, and anyone who is searching for where hope might be found now,” Sister Cass said.
The exhibit is open to the public. The Dominican Sisters of Hope invite all to virtually visit and share in reflection.