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CRRA Announces the Retirement of Jennifer Younger, Executive Director

As the Chair of the Board of CRRA, I write to share news that Jennifer Younger, Executive Director of CRRA, has decided to retire this summer.  After serving our organization with distinction for over ten years, Jennifer will be  greatly missed by all of us.

Jennifer's exceptional service to CRRA began in 2010.  She took on the role as Executive Director after serving as the Edward H. Arnold Director of Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana.  In addition to taking on many key challenges during her tenure, Jennifer was instrumental in the development of the Catholic Newspapers Program and the opening of the Catholic News Archive in 2016.

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CRRA Webinar: Curating Catholic Web Archives About the COVID-19 Pandemic

CRRA Webinar:
Curating Catholic Web Archives About the COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, December 11, 2020

2:00-3:00pm ET | 1:00-2:00pm CT | 12:00-1:00pm MT | 11:00am-12:00pm PT

Please join us on Friday, December 11th for a presentation, "Curating Catholic Web Archives About the COVID-19 Pandemic," led by CRRA members Kayla Harris, Librarian/Archivist at the University of Dayton, and Stephanie Shreffler, Collections Librarian/Archivist at the University of Dayton and Chair of the CRRA Collections Committee.

At the University of Dayton, special collections librarians curated collections of web content using the Internet Archive’s Archive-It software, documenting Catholic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the U.S. Church collection and The Marian Library Web Clippings collection.

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CRRA Celebrates International Open Access Week Oct. 19-25

We have much to celebrate and share in the successful development of the open access Catholic News Archive for the education and research communities, particularly so in the context of this year's focus on equity and inclusion.

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Now Available: Recording of Featured Presentation on the Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation Project at CRRA Annual Meeting

If you didn't get a chance to tune in to the CRRA Virtual Annual Meeting last month - or would like to revisit this excellent presentation - be sure to check out the recording and learn about the important work of the Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation Project.

Our guest presenters Dr. Laura Weis, Project Coordinator, Doctoral Candidate Kelly Schmidt, Research Coordinator, and Danielle Harrison, Advisory Committee member, discussed the connections being made with descendants of the enslaved, community members and scholars, the research needed to facilitate these conversations, and communication with all stakeholders on what transformative solutions might look like.

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CRRA By the Numbers - 2020 Annual Meeting

As presented at CRRA's Virtual Annual Meeting on May 7, 2020, we're excited to share this new snapshot of our usage, member engagement, and collaboration!

Sisters' work during the 1918 Spanish flu seen as model for crisis today

Archivists from among the membership of the Archivists of Women Religious Congregations (ACWR) and CRRA responded to a list-serv post I requested, asking for histories and photographs depicting Communities' responses to the 1918 pandemic. I appreciate all their help. I’m sorry we couldn’t get all of the information sent into the story.

The Catholic News Service published Sisters' work during the 1918 Spanish flu seen as model for crisis today on March 30, 2020, as the Coronavirus pandemic ravages the globe. In sending out the link to ACWR members, Veronica Buchanan, Executive Secretary, ACWR commented: "we could all certainly use an example of our collections resonating with readers throughout the nation, especially when we feel more disconnected than ever."  

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Celebrating Open Access at University of Dayton

Each year, Open Access Week calls attention to efforts worldwide to make scholarly literature, research data, creative works, primary sources and other materials available to anyone online, free of charge. The Catholic Portal, Catholic News Archive and subject guides are among the freely available resources made possible by CRRA members and partners. 

Kathleen Webb, dean of the University of Dayton Libraries, places a high value on information accessibility and ushered her libraries into the open-access realm with the 2013 launch of eCommons, an institutional repository showcasing the research and creative works of the faculty, staff and students of the University of Dayton. Since 2013, the UD Libraries have made more than 35,000 articles, papers, historical collections, rare materials and records available.

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YOU should read the Catholic Press

In The Archivist's Nook, Dr. Maria Mazzenga, Catholic University, describes the evolution of the national Catholic press from its beginning in 1911 to its current global presence in over 200 American Catholic newspapers radio and video broadcasters as well as news broadcasters in over 60 countries. Read more

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Getting the Word Out: Whenever Possible Tell Scholars About the Trove That is The Catholic News Archive

 Masthead of Catholic Weekly “intended to contain” among other things “information of occurrences connected with the catholic [sic] religion in the United States, and various parts of Europe”

In the early 1840s reactionary agitators called Nativists whipped up Anti-Catholic/Anti-Immigrant fervor that resulted in armed conflict and the destruction of property in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After the first Nativist Riot May 3-10, 1844, a public meeting of Philadelphia’s Catholic citizens appointed a committee to prepare an address to answer the accusations of a Grand Jury which blamed Catholics for the conflagration. The American patriotism of Catholics, namely their dedication to the protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to minority groups, was one of the major points of the address.

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March 2019 Catholic News Archive Update

The Catholic News Archive continues to grow in a consistent, healthy way. In March, 5,338 users visited the site for a total of 26.015 pages views. Please see the charts to get a sense of our strong growth trends. 


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Exploring National Trends in the Catholic News Archive

This spring, students at Mount St. Mary’s University enrolled in HIST 297: The History of Mount St. Mary’s. For one of their research papers, the students were assigned to take a topic discussed in class and examine what was happening at the same time on a national level regarding their topic. All topics related to the nineteenth century and included themes such as
  • Catholic responses to slavery,
  • Higher education and the American Civil War,
  • Catholic responses to the Civil War,
  • The experiences of rural Catholic communities, and
  • Catholic seminary life 
Students were required to use at least three primary sources in their papers. To locate these primary sources, the students almost exclusively used the Catholic News Archive. Students found the Catholic News Archive to have a very user-friendly interface. Particularly helpful features were the ability to filter the search results by year of publication and by region. The also liked that the search results gave them access to the full issue of the newspaper rather than just the single article. Through this feature, several students enjoyed browsing the issue and seeing what themes were being discussed in the newspaper in context with the article they were examining.

From the perspective of the professor, the students’ papers were greatly strengthened by the use of primary sources found in the Catholic News Archive. The students were able to integrate the sources in a way that strengthened their theses and conveyed their understanding of attitudes and opinions at the time of publication.
Two students commented to me that they have already thought of ways that they will use the resources of the Catholic News Archive to assist them in other courses.

Submitted by Jessica Whitmore, Director of the Library, Mount St. Mary’s University

A new way to explore the newspaper of the Catholic Worker movement started by Dorothy Day

It’s Women’s History month. A special time when well-known and a few no-so-well-known women get highlighted. Even though she was publicly acknowledged by Pope Francis as a great American during his 2015 speech before Congress, too many have heard too little about Dorothy Day. She was the co-founder of a movement that has produced Catholic Worker communities, “committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken.” The organ of the movement since its inception in 1933 is The Catholic Worker newspaper. As their Website goes on to say, “Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms” (

What’s exciting is that an open digital archive of The Catholic Worker (1943 – 2016) has just become available, with promise of the first decade being added soon. Nonetheless, these digitized primary sources at already give a unique and invaluable view on current world events from World War II to the early twenty-first century.

The media this week is buzzing about Pope Francis’ announcement to open the 1939-1958 files in the Vatican archives. As much as it will be a boon for scholars to be able to investigate those World War II/Holocaust-era documents, they won’t become available until March of 2020. Until then, and even on into the future, it’s great that researchers will have ready online access to some notable and freely-available historical primary sources via The Catholic News Archive, a project of the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (

Full Text Happiness in the Catholic Portal

Special collections and archives existed long before we had computers. How did people find out about them in those dark decades of the twentieth century? Repositories often sent descriptions to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, managed by the Library of Congress. These collection-level descriptions appeared in bound volumes and on cards for the catalog.

In the 1960s, if you had an interest in one of the writers associated with the New England Transcendentalists, specifically Orestes A. Brownson who later became a Catholic, you could check the NUCMC and find that Notre Dame has his papers and published a microfilm edition of them. If you were flipping through Notre Dame's card catalog looking for books by Brownson, you would discover that we also have his papers.

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New Flier for Scholars. More Content in the Catholic News Archive

A link to the new flier, A Fully-searchable open digital repository of historical Catholic news, is on the home page of the Catholic Newspapers Program. Scroll down to find the link to this downloadable, printable flier. This flier was distributed to attendees at the American Catholic Historical Association 2019 Annual Meeting in Chicago. Following a brief description, the focus is on what scholars, librarians and archivists say about their interests and use of Catholic newspapers.

Please share the flier with colleagues. And, use it in promotion to faculty and students, especially those engaged in historical research on a broad range of disciplines and topics such as school desegregation, peace, health care, and the Second Vatican Council. Content includes:

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When Did American Catholics Start Asking to Keep Christ in Christmas?

When Did American Catholics Start Asking to Keep Christ in Christmas?

While the concept to keep Christ in Christmas is not an exclusively Catholic theme it was interesting to discover by using the Catholic News Archive when the slogan started being promoted in earnest by Catholics in the United States. It seems it became a rallying cry after the Second World War. The National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service was the source that was later to become known as Catholic News Service Newsfeeds. They record in December 1949 an editorial entitled “Unholy Fraud” had caught widespread attention. 

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Beginners' Bad Luck with EAD

As a former beginner myself, I recognize that the desire to produce EAD finding aids does not immediately result in their production. Among the members of CRRA, the more prosperous institutions can support computer systems that automatically generate EAD. But even these systems require an understanding of archival theory and how it might be maintained in a way congenial to machines. And other members of CRRA have the more difficult task of producing EAD without sophisticated equipment and IT support.

CRRA developed the EAD Template to help those who have no easy way to produce valid finding aids. While it tries to make EAD as easy as possible, beginners may still have bad luck with it. When I attended the Rare Book School EAD course at the University of Virginia in 1999, I had already produced hundreds of EAD finding aids. Daniel Pitti, the teacher of the course, offered helpful criticism and mentioned several mistaken ways of thinking that he had found among beginners. When CRRA members started using the EAD Template, I found one of these typical mistakes cropping up.

Archivists preserve filing systems that grow organically as routine activities generate records. The context of a document has evidential value; the whole filing system provides evidence about how an organization or individual conducted business, and therefore evidence of values, crises, attacks, defense mechanisms, unexpected events, daily life. Descriptions of such filing systems need to represent the organic form faithfully in all of its meaningful structure and peculiar quirkiness. Since filing systems generally have a hierarchical form, finding aids must also allow for components that contain other components that may contain other components -- boxes within boxes within boxes, or files within files within files.

Thanks to our familiarity with common filing systems on computers, we should have no trouble with this concept. Typically graphical displays of the contents of a hard drive show pictures of folders, and inside them other folders, and after a number of these eventually the individual computer files. One can generally also choose to view the same structure as an outline representing this structure in a slightly different way.

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A Snapshot of Catholic Digital Resources

In 2016-17, the Digital Access Committee and Collections were asked, “Is the Catholic Portal unique?”

The full goal fleshed out the question a little more: “Compare the resources and attributes (freely available, subject or general, functionality) of the Catholic Portal with those of other collaborative digital libraries, repositories and/or Portals.” Pat Lawton and I tackled this question. By the time we finished, we had 11 closed and open questions, that covered type of resource, scope, geographic range, age of items, collaboration, access, and rarity. (Pat and Sharon’s report is here; the spreadsheet of data is here.)

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CRRA Wins Catholic Communications Campaign Grant to Digitize Catholic News Service Newsfeeds

The Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) has won a $49,764 Catholic Communications Campaign grant from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for Preservation and Online Access to Catholic History -- NCWC/CNS 1920- .  Funds will support the digitization and preservation of newsfeeds from the National Catholic Welfare Council (NCWC), currently known as  the Catholic News Service (CNS) newsfeeds (the Catholic equivalent of Reuters).

100,000 pages of the NCWC/CNS newsfeeds from 1920- (approximately 30 years) will be digitized and made freely available through the CRRA-developed Catholic News Archive , a digital collection of Catholic diocesan and national newspapers.  The newsfeeds will be digitized at the highest quality standards and the resulting digital images will be preserved in perpetuity.

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Limit to full text in VuFind

This posting outlines how a "limit to full text" functionality was implemented in the "Catholic Portal's" version of VuFind.

While there are many dimensions of the Catholic Portal, one of its primary components is a sort of union catalog of rare and infrequently held materials of a Catholic nature. This union catalog is comprised of metadata from MARC records, EAD files, and OAI-PMH data repositories. Some of the MARC records include URLs in 856$u fields. These URLs point to PDF files that have been processed with OCR. The Portal's indexer has been configured to harvest the PDF documents, when it comes across them. Once harvested the OCR is extracted from the PDF file, and the resulting text is added to the underlying Solr index. The values of the URLs are saved to the Solr index as well. Almost by definition, all of the OAI-PMH content indexed by Portal is full text; almost all of the OAI-PMH content includes pointers to images or PDF documents.

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CRRA Update Spring 2016

CRRA Update Spring 2016
(December, January, February)
Please see the PDF for the more visually rich version.

Feature Article: The Oliver Leonard Kapsner, O.S.B. Cataloging Bulletin: A Resource for Catalogers of Catholic Publications
From the Board
Committee Briefs

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