In 1986, Dr. David Snowdon introduced his research on aging to the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato, MN, and asked for their participation in a pilot study. In 1991, additional participation by School Sisters of Notre Dame throughout the United States led to a total of 678 members in his study that is now known as the Nun Study. These sisters, dedicated to education, saw his request as another way to teach, even beyond their lifetimes. View some photos and the chart of Nun Study participants. Or, for more information,see www.nunstudy.org
Archival data on each sister was/is an important component of Dr. Snowdon’s research. Discover how this data was utilized to further medical research by reading The American Archivist article written by a member of Dr. Snowdon’s staff, Gari-Anne Patzwald and S. Carol Marie Wildt, SSND Archivist.
Numerous articles have appeared on the Nun Study, but the appearance of S. Hermana Maurer on the cover of TIME magazine was a first in SSND history. She is one of three women religious ever to be pictured on the cover of TIME: Mother Mary Columba of Maryknoll, in 1955, and Mother Theresa of Calcutta, in 1975. The media have offered various perspectives on the importance of the Nun Study. One example is a presentation by CNN. View the CNN Report by clicking on the link at right. Facilitator Directions are available.
In his research Dr. Snowdon compares two German sisters who came to the U.S. during Nazism. Read an account of their lives, “A Tale of Two Sisters,” as seen through the lens of the Nun Study and narrated in Aging with Grace, by Dr. David Snowdon. (Bantam Books, 2001) His book has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, German, Dutch, Thai, Korean, and Chinese. Facilitator Directions are available.
Engaging the aging process is a universal phenomenon. S. Mary Luke Baldwin, SSND reflects on an experience many face: Step by Step. Share her views in this essay.
S. Genevieve Kunkel gives another perspective on the Nun Study as you listen to her reading the testimony she gave before Congress in 2004.
S. Anne Mayer is one of the most recent participants to reach her 100th birthday. View her interview of 1993 and see her birthday celebration on November 12, 2005.
School Sisters of Notre Dame see aging and death as opportunities to deepen spirituality. A wake service has been prepared with this context in mind. Reflect on this ultimate moment in life.