Dispel any images you may have of our monastery archives as a dusty storage room for a remote past. The documents in the precisely coded boxes that fill the roomful of shelves carry the energy of 1,040 women — women who, over a span of 150 years, have been the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana.
With a little imagination, you might picture a sister painstakingly creating one of the handwritten music books, carefully drawing the notes and scribing the words. Or the prioresses over the years, signing the 200 or so deeds that represent acres of monastery land.
You might also see Albert Krampe, who followed his father as properties manager, each day faithfully recording his duties in his log. Or the sisters sharing their own daily happenings in their little newsletter,The Dove, written in German from 1903 to 1917, and then in English.
The treasured items found in the small “museum” area represent more pieces of the sisters’ lives: worn prayer books, a wooden springerle mold brought from Germany, the paintings and pottery of artist sisters, a machine that pleated thousands of coifs worn under the veil.
Sister Rebecca Abel
Sister Mary Philip Berger
The monastery archives houses many treasures for genealogy. Each deceased sister has an archival box with clues to her life tucked inside. The location of her burial site is also important in one’s search for a relative who was a sister at the monastery.