Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America

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Macmillan, Jan 19, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages
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In the 1800s, nuns moved west with the frontier, building hospitals and schools in immigrant communities. They provided aid during the Chicago fire, cared for orphans and prostitutes during the California Gold Rush, and brought professional nursing skills to field hospitals on both sides of the Civil War.

In the 1900s, nuns built the nation's largest private school and hospital systems, and brought the Catholic Church into the Civil Rights movement. As their numbers began to decline in the 1970s, many sisters were forced to take professional jobs as lawyers, probation workers, and hospital executives because their salaries were needed to support older nuns, many of whom lacked a pension system. Currently there are about 65,000 sisters in America, down from 204,000 in 1968. Their median age is sixty-nine.

Nuns became the nation's first cadre of independent, professional women. Some nursed, some taught, and many created and managed new charitable organizations, including large hospitals and colleges. Sweeping in its scope and insight, Sisters reveals the spiritual wealth that these women invested in America.

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SISTERS: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Wall Street Journal reporter Fialka examines the role played in American society by nuns, who built the nation's largest private-school and nonprofit-hospital systems.Focusing primarily on the Sisters ... Read full review

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User Review  - NewsieQ - LibraryThing

I actually read this book twice. Once when it first came out, and again in 2008 for a NF readers' group. For anyone who was raised Catholic, it brings up the question, "why didn't we ever hear about ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

John J. Fialka is a reporter with the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau. He lives in McLean Virginia.

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