To subscribe to HWR News and Notes send a check or money order for $10 for one year, $18 for two years or $24 for three years to the editor:

Karen M. Kennelly
1880 Randolph Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105

OUr history

Synopsis of the History of Women Religious Conference 1988-2010

  • A small group of women (Kaye Ashe, OP; Barbara Brumleve, SSND; Mary Ewens, OP; Karen Kennelly, CSJ; Kitty Kish-Sklar; Barbara Misner, SCSC; Mary Oates, CSJ; and Margaret (Peg) Thompson) organized the Conference in 1988 for the purpose of promoting research and publication on the subject of women religious worldwide, from all religious traditions, with particular emphasis on North America.   
  • The newsletter, HWR News and Notes, edited by Karen Kennelly, began publication in 1988 as the main networking tool. Standard features of the newsletter which comes out three times a year are conference news, publications, research in progress, book reviews, and announcements. Subscription constitutes membership in the HWR conference.
  • Triennial conferences began in 1989 to enhance networking and to recognize outstanding research in the field.  Conferences have been convened at: The College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota (1989); Marymount College, Tarrytown, New York (1992); Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1995); Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois (1998); Marquette University, Milwaukee (2001); Atchison Heritage Conference Center, Atchison, Kansas (2004); the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana (2007); and Scranton University, Scranton, Pennsylvania (2010). Attendance has been between 200 and 220.  Format has included, in addition to plenary and concurrent sessions at every conference, such special features as magnet groups, forums, round tables and film, dramatic performances, art exhibits, book displays, and archival tours.  Major speakers have included Barbara Welter, Patricia Byrne, CSJ, Mary Ewens, OP, Margaret Susan Thompson, JoAnn McNamara, Gerda Lerner, Patricia Wittberg, SC, Paula Kane, Elizabeth Rapley, Anne Butler, Angelyn Dries, OSF, Margaret Eletta Guider, OSF, and Debra Campbell.
  • A Coordinating Committee composed of a the newsletter editor who also serves as general coordinator, the newsletter book review editor, the conference awards committee chair, the current and immediate past Triennial Conference program chairs, and four at-large members, is responsible for the HWR as a conference.
  • Archives are located at Avila University, Kansas City, Missouri.


  • Around 400, drawn from the United States and Canada, Australia, England, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, France, Japan, and China (Hong Kong).
  • Approximately one-third of the members are lay (nearly half the international members) and two-thirds are from religious congregations. A large majority (94 per cent) are women.

Awards history

  • Evangeline Thomas, CSJ, Distinguished Historian Award
  • Marie Augusta Neal, SNDdeN, 1992, Distinguished Historian Award
  • Karen M. Kennelly, CSJ, 1995, Distinguished Historian Award
  • Mary Ewens, OP, and JoAnn McNamara, 1998, Distinguished Historian Award
  • Mary Oates, CSJ, 2001, Distinguished Historian Award
  • Martha Smith, CSJ, and Carol K. Coburn, joint recipients of the Distinguished Book Award
  • Anita Caspary and Diane Batts Morrow, 2004, Distinguished Book Award; Brenda Elizabeth Rapley, 2004, Distinguished Historian Award; Mary Hermenia Muldrey, RSM, 2004, Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Elizabeth Makowski, 2007 Distinguished Book Award; Elizabeth Kolmer, ASC, 2007 Distinguished Historian Award; Suellen Hoy and Irene Mahoney, OSU, 2007 joint recipients of Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Emily Clark, 2010 Distinguished Book Award; Elizabeth M. Smyth, 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award.