New Women of the Old Faith

Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era

By Kathleen Sprows Cummings

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 18 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7152-2
    Published: August 2010
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8984-8
    Published: February 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7993-6
    Published: February 2009

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Awards & distinctions

2010 Catholic Press Association Awards: Second place in Education; Honorable Mention in History; Third place in Gender Issues

American Catholic women rarely surface as protagonists in histories of the United States. Offering a new perspective, Kathleen Sprows Cummings places Catholic women at the forefront of two defining developments of the Progressive Era: the emergence of the "New Woman" and Catholics' struggle to define their place in American culture. Cummings highlights four women: Chicago-based journalist Margaret Buchanan Sullivan; Sister Julia McGroarty, SND, founder of Trinity College in Washington, D.C., one of the first Catholic women's colleges; Philadelphia educator Sister Assisium McEvoy, SSJ; and Katherine Eleanor Conway, a Boston editor, public figure, and antisuffragist. Cummings uses each woman's story to explore how debates over Catholic identity were intertwined with the renegotiation of American gender roles.

About the Author

Kathleen Sprows Cummings is assistant professor of American studies and associate director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame.
For more information about Kathleen Sprows Cummings, visit the Author Page.


"A timely, enlightening book--required reading for those who wish to understand the religious landscape of the Progressive Era and the historical background of today's culture wars. Highly recommended."--Choice

"Fascinating. . . . Will assuredly appeal to anyone interested in the story of American Catholicism and the growth of the American immigrant church. . . . A fresh perspective on the struggles [of] Catholic women."--America

"This well-written and finely nuanced book makes an important contribution to scholarship in Catholic history and American women's history."--The Catholic Historical Review

"Elegantly written. . . . This volume takes us to places we have never been before."--American Catholic Studies

"An enjoyable read. . . . Cummings has exhausted scores of manuscript collections, newspapers, and secondary sources to construct a lively narrative that enhances our understanding of American women during the Progressive Era."--Journal of American History

"Clear prose and sophisticated analysis. . . . Cummings' careful analysis encourages historians of women to consider the limits of the Second-Wave narrative."--Reviews in American History

Multimedia & Links

Follow the author on Twitter @KSprowsCummings.