Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., Memorial Award: Carol W. Smith

Carol W. Smith, archivist for Christ Church Preservation Trust, is the 2022 recipient of the Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., Memorial Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in conjunction with the Society of Southwest Archivists. The award honors an archivist who has made a significant contribution to the field of religious archives.

During her years working as a religious archivist, Smith spearheaded the Philadelphia Historic Congregations Project and received funding from CLIR, the Council for Libraries and Information Research (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), as well as the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission and the Connelly Foundation to digitize or harvest more than 85,000 documents across seventeen Philadelphia congregations. More records will continue to be uploaded. The resulting portal provides insight into the relationship between religion and politics while also providing greater access to invaluable documents. Many of these “hidden” documents have not had sufficient description, and this project significantly improves accessibility.

Smith has been an outstanding member of the archival profession. As one supporter has written, Smith “is a dedicated person who works with several other organizations to make sure that their archives are kept in pristine condition for future generations.” In addition, the supporter notes that because of Smith’s dedication, the Philadelphia Historic Congregations Project is “collaboration at its finest—among congregations and among constituencies. To say these records are a treasure trove for future scholars is scarcely adequate.”

Created in 1974, the award honors Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., a Dominican nun who was the first professionally trained archivist at the Catholic Archives of Texas in Austin. Past recipients include Mary Grace Kosta (Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada), Ellen Pierce (Dominican Sisters and other religious congregations), and Jillian Ewalt (University of Dayton).