Cover: The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s, from Harvard University PressCover: The New Nuns in HARDCOVER

The New Nuns

Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s

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Product Details


$65.00 • £52.95 • €58.50

ISBN 9780674024731

Publication Date: 04/30/2007


320 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

10 halftones


In this innovative study, Amy Koehlinger combines the methodologies of history and anthropology to examine how ‘in just a few short years sisters had transformed themselves from virtual inmates of their own religious institutions into public activists agitating for the liberation of others’… Koehlinger poignantly chronicles the frustrations, tensions, and triumphs the new nuns experienced as they negotiated tortuous paths between their own moral imperatives toward racial justice and the recalcitrance and opposition of racist laity, clergy, and even other sisters.—Diane Batts Morrow, Catholic Historical Review

This book definitely contributes to a better understanding of the complex changes that came about in the lives of women religious in the 1960s and 1970s. [Koehlinger’s] study takes a novel approach in bringing issues of race and gender to bear on religious life. [Her] well-written study will be useful in undergraduate and graduate classrooms, and should be on the shelves of college, university, and public libraries.—Ann M. Harrington, American Catholic Studies

This book will be an important asset for both scholars and the church as they come to terms with the legacy of the period. But most importantly, Koehlinger’s New Nuns is [a] significant work that tackles the complex world sisters inhabited in the turbulent decades following World War II without ever losing sight of the real women under the habits.—Gregory Hite, American Catholic Studies

A beautifully written, scholarly but accessible work of archival research and oral history provides an insightful analysis of the racial apostolate in the early 1960s.—Rachelle Linner, Catholic News Service

The New Nuns, a beautifully written, scholarly but accessible work of archival research and oral history, provides an insightful analysis of the racial apostolate in the early 1960s. Amy L. Koehlinger, an acute and empathic historian, explores the unique time ‘when developments in the Catholic Church, in American race relations and in the federal government converged to dramatically change the political, theological and economic contexts in which Catholic women religious pursued the apostolic component of religious life’… This is an important book that clarifies a complex movement and justly honors the women who, at considerable cost to their own comfort, expanded traditional understandings of charity and ‘learned the power of imagination and hope.’—Rachelle Linner, Catholic Online

This is a compelling, elegantly written history, carefully contextualized, and deeply grounded in archival research and in-depth interviews.—D. Campbell, Choice

An original and engaging study of Catholic sisters’ anti-racist work in the 1960s. Koehlinger is superb in describing the forces promoting the racial apostolate and in taking the reader close to the thoughts, emotions, and daily activities of the sisters.—Susan M. Hartmann, The Ohio State University

A beautifully written book on a neglected subject: Catholics nuns in the United States. Koehlinger’s study will powerfully assist us in understanding the experience of race and reform among women religious—and its meaning for Catholicism—during the cauldron of the 1960s.—John T. McGreevy, author of Catholicism and American Freedom

Awards & Accolades

  • 2009 Eric Hoffer Book Award, Culture Category
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