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Novices, Nuns, and Colegio Girls: The Adrian Dominican Sisters in the U.S. and Dominican Republic, 1933-61.


This project traces the shared history between novices, nuns and “Colegio Girls” across national boundaries weaving together American Catholic History, the history of education, the history of women, and the cultural history of the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo era. When three American Catholic Sisters arrived in the Dominican Republic in 1945 they had no idea how to speak Spanish, that the country was under the control of a dictator, or how to begin the process of building a school for girls. Within one year, Colegio Santo Domingo, a school for elite Dominican girls in the capitol, offered a bilingual program of education for the first time on the island. As the nuns became more familiar with their surroundings, the curriculum of the school evolved to teach girls to train their bodies and minds to survive their present and create a new future for their society guided by Catholic values. The curriculum had its roots in the training of new nuns to balance the worldviews required of an American Catholic nun and a teacher in a modern school environment. In the new environment of the Trujillo D.R., the nuns created a similar program of training to enable girls to thrive intellectually and survive physically.

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