After more than a year of work, the digitizing of the school photographs from Loretto schools in the United States is finally complete! Soon I will begin work on the schools abroad, but before I do that, I thought I’d celebrate this milestone by sharing my favorite photographs from each state with you.
Some caveats to keep in mind are:
While the Sisters of Loretto had one school in Iowa (1966-1974) and one school in Louisiana (1825-1828), there are no photographs from these schools in our collections.
Photographs with children’s faces that are less than 50 years old or photographs naming and identifying blood quantum of students from the
Indigenous Boarding Schools are not part of our public collection and are therefore not counted in the total number of images.
What are your favorite photographs from our school collections? Anyone can view and download these photographs by going to our public portal
here. Happy hunting!
Alabama: The Sisters of Loretto had nine schools in Alabama, beginning in 1880 with Holy Angel’s Academy in Birmingham. Most of the photographs in this collection of 149 images come from Montgomery Catholic High School and Queen of Mercy School in Montgomery. In this image, three Sisters are out crabbing. While the photo itself doesn’t provide any information, Canto’s facial recognition has recognized these Sisters as (from left to right) Sr. Aldea Caron, Sr. Jeanette Marie Donnelly, and Sr. Kit Concanon. Do you think these identifications are correct? Let us know in the comments! Arkansas: The Sisters had only three schools in Arkansas, and all were closed by 1845 (a mere 20 years after the world’s first photograph was taken). Not surprisingly, there are only nine images to choose from in this collection. I chose this as my favorite because the side view of the building shows how far the brush has grown up around the building. For more information on the Arkansas mission, be sure to read this LOREtto blog post on the subject. Arizona: Five schools total made up the Sisters’ mission in Arizona, and there is a total of 110 photographs in this collection. The images are spread pretty evenly between four of the five schools, with St. Patrick’s School in Bisbee not being represented at all. I just love this photograph of students from Nativity School in Flagstaff on stage with their instruments. Information provided on the back of the photograph says that this class was taught by Sr. Lewine Dahl. California: The Sisters had eleven schools in California, and our California photograph collection has a total of 195 images. This image comes from Nativity School in Los Angeles, where the Sisters taught from 1936 to 1996. These third graders are dressed in habit for the Mission Sudan procession in 1949. Colorado: Colorado was one of the larger mission states for the Sisters of Loretto. They taught in or ran at least 31 schools in the state. This means I had 647 images to chose from when picking my favorite! This image, identified as being from 1887, shows construction of the Academy Building at Loretto Heights Academy. Notice the men standing around around on the ledges and the two hanging off the side of the ladder! Illinois: Although the Sisters had 21 schools in Illinois, our photograph collection from that state remains relatively small at 288 images. My favorite Illinois photo comes from St. Patrick’s School in Kankakee (unfortunately often abbreviated as KKK on the backs of photos). This image shows the school’s library club from the 1948-1949 school year. As a graduate of library school, I am always a sucker for a good library photo! Kansas: Loretto had five schools in Kansas. We have very little information or photographs from most of these. While there are 147 images from Kansas, most of them come are postcards or images taken long after the Sisters had left Kansas in 1922. This image shows Sr. Carmela Ammel presiding over an empty classroom at St. Francis School, where the Sisters taught from 1915 to 1922. Kentucky: Loretto had 52 schools in Kentucky, including its very first school at Little Loretto (Marion County). Our image collection from this state holds 897 photos, with Bethlehem Academy at St. John (Hardin County) being the most represented by far. While there are many lovely photos in this collection, my absolute favorite is this image of Sisters in town for Loretto’s 1991 Assembly looking out over the land where Little Loretto once sat. Missouri: The Sisters taught at 64 schools in Missouri, the most schools in any state. Fittingly, Missouri makes up the largest part of our school photographs. With 2,634 photographs, Missouri schools make up more than a third of our total school photographs! There are many lovely senior portraits from Loretto Academy in St. Louis in this collection, but my favorite photograph comes from Webster College. In this image you can view two of the six stained glass windows from the House of Studies at Webster College. Nebraska: With only three schools, Nebraska was one of Loretto’s smaller mission states. There are only eight photos from this collection to choose from, and yet this is one of my favorites from all the schools. While there is no additional information on this photograph from St. Joseph’s School in Auburn, it appears to be students in a domestic science class learning how to prepare culinary standards. New Mexico: Loretto had 23 schools in New Mexico, with the earliest opening in 1866. While at first glance it appears to be one of the better represented states in the collection with 1057 images, closer inspection reveals that many of these are actually postcards of the staircase at Loretto Chapel. My favorite image from the state, however, is from Loretto Academy in Las Cruces. Student work – described on the back of the photograph as “plain sewing” – from 1915 is on display here. Other images in this collection show displays of art, dressmaking, and fancy work from the same year. Ohio: The Sisters had only three schools in Ohio, and the photograph collection for this state is comprised of a meager 27 images. In this photograph, which is undated, you can see the church and the Sisters’ home on Finley and Loretto Street in Toronto. Oklahoma: While the Sisters only had two schools in Oklahoma, the image collection for the state actually contains 103 images. My favorite image from this state shows townspeople standing in high water during the Pawhuska flood of 1915. Texas: Loretto had 15 schools in Texas, and there are 638 photographs from the state available to view in our school collection. Loretto Academy in El Paso is by far the best represented, as almost one-third of the Texas photos (including my favorite Texas picture) come from that school. Here we see Sr. Lucille Marie Trudell and her students giving some kind of performance or presentation. Virginia: The Sisters had only one school in Virginia: St. Ann’s School in Arlington, 1951-1964. Therefore, it’s not surprising that there are only 10 photographs in this collection. My favorite image is actually the proposal sketch from the architects. Wyoming: The Sisters also had only one school in Wyoming, St. Joseph’s School in Rawlins. With only six photographs, Wyoming is also our smallest collection of school images. My favorite image was taken in 1950, at the grand opening of the school. This celebration was in the school gym (note the basketball net on the wall in the background).