Displaying Sacred Heart Greenwich's archives


This year, Sacred Heart Greenwich School Historian Mrs. Vicky Allen created an updated School Archives catalog, which organizes the school’s artifacts and documents, helping to preserve the history of Sacred Heart Greenwich. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Mrs. Allen’s time as the school historian; she came to Greenwich in 1993.

Mrs. Allen features items on display in the archive case in the Cohen Library and Media Center. Katie McCabe ’18

Prior to working at Sacred Heart Greenwich, Mrs. Allen worked at the network school Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City for eight years, teaching English. After, she became a volunteer at Sacred Heart Greenwich and worked in the bookstore and in the Alumnae and Development offices. In 1997, Mrs. Allen worked on an exhibit for the school’s sesquicentennial celebration.
“In 1997, they were preparing for their sesquicentennial, and they said, ‘Would you like to organize an exhibit about the history of the school?’ So, I did,” Mrs. Allen said. “And then they said, ‘Would you like to be the School Archivist?’ So, I am the Head of the Archives. It is very enjoyable.”
The archive catalog that Mrs. Allen recently compiled will help the school preserve its history and artifacts so that future Sacred Heart community members will be able to learn about the school’s history and about the Sacred Heart network.
“You have to be as careful as you can be with writing it all up, so that for future generations, they can go in, look at this [archive catalog], and find something,” Mrs. Allen said.
In the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation Library and Media Center, Mrs. Allen arranged a glass case displaying a variety of school artifacts, such as rosary beads, journals, and photographs. Mrs. Allen also stores a majority of the school’s archival items in the Cohen Library and Media Center.
“Then we have mostly items relating to the history of the school: old photographs, student newspapers, documents about the Society of the Sacred Heart, and that type of thing,” Mrs. Allen said.  
The prayer book Sister Cora McLaughlin gave to Mrs. Allen. Katie McCabe ’18

Mrs. Allen discussed what preserving the archives entails and explained the type of storage that is necessary to preserve the items. 
“When you’re saving things, anything, even in your family, don’t put them in a wooden box,” Mrs. Allen said. “Items should be kept in an archival box or in a metal drawer because the wood, the acid in the wood, will eat your documents.” 
Mrs. Allen learned to do archive work from Sister Cora McLaughlin ’29, a Sacred Heart alumna, at the central archives of the Society of the Sacred Heart, in St. Louis, Missouri. Sister McLaughlin’s delicate prayer book, one of Mrs. Allen’s favorite items, is currently on display in the glass archive case in the Sacred Heart Greenwich library.
“[Sister McLaughlin] gave me the prayer book that she had been given by her aunt in 1918, when she made her First Communion,” Mrs. Allen said. “That has always been a treasure to me. I always keep it on display here.” 
Another item that is currently on display in the archive case is a set of Society of the Sacred Heart rosary beads. Mrs. Allen explained the details of the rosary beads, noting their deep connection to Sacred Heart.
“The clips are made of a brass, and they have the seal of the Society of the Sacred Heart,” Mrs. Allen said. “What’s fascinating about these beads is that the Society of the Sacred Heart had coffee trees in Rome, at the Motherhouse in Rome, and the beads in the nun’s rosaries are made out of the coffee beans.” 
Mrs. Allen’s rich knowledge of the history of the Sacred Heart network extends to her in-depth knowledge of the community and facilities of Sacred Heart Greenwich. Mrs. Allen explained that although the school has modernized and extended its facilities, some of Sacred Heart Greenwich’s resources have remained the same. 
This journal from 1847 details life at Sacred Heart Greenwich. Katie McCabe ’18

“The swimming pool, as it is now, was the original swimming pool,” Mrs. Allen said. “That was originally outdoors, and it’s indoors now. And of course, they enlarged it. It is interesting that that’s the exact location of the original swimming pool.” 
Once a week, Mrs. Allen emails columns with information about Sacred Heart history from the School Archives to various members of the community. The topic of Mrs. Allen’s most recent column was the old Sacred Heart network school in Paris, which is now the Rodin Museum.
“The emails go out to all faculty and staff, all the students, the Alumnae Board, the Parents Association, various people like RSCJ or affiliates of the school who are interested in that kind of thing, and the Board of Trustees. It’s basically the school community that gets them,” Mrs. Allen said. “I think that a lot of people do [read them], and I’m always so pleased when they do.”
As Mrs. Allen concludes her 25th year at Sacred Heart Greenwich, she continues to preserve the school’s archives and share the history and her love of the school and the Sacred Heart network with the community.
“What I like the best about the school too, is this very proud history of Sacred Heart schools,” Mrs. Allen said. “I mean, to think that we have been going now since 1800, around the world and educating people, and bringing the love of God to them and sending them in the world with a social conscience. That to me is everything. That’s why I love Sacred Heart and I’m so proud.”
-Katie McCabe, News Editor
Featured Image by Katie McCabe ’18