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Alma Brown papers

 Collection — Folder: S172
Identifier: S0172

Scope and Contents

This collection includes a typewritten biography from Sisters of Providence in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind. ranging from 1879 to 1953 regarding the life of Sister Mary Borromeo (Alma Brown).


  • 1879/03/26-1953/12/20

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Alma Brown (Sister Mary Borromeo) was born on March 26, 1879 to James Harrison and Mary Hayes Riley Brown. Alma's grandfather, Aloysius Brown, was a well-known pioneer whose word as a Catholic layman in Edgar County, Illinois was immortalized in her book, History of the Sisters of Providence. Her half-sister Mary, born to Mary Hayes and her first husband, James Riley, was the first Sister Mary Borromeo, 1879-1892.

Alma enrolled in the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Institute at the age of nine, in the fourth grade. She left school in 1895, around the time of her mother's death, without graduating. She was encouraged to live out in the lay world before becoming a nun, and she lived in St. Louis with her half-sister, Esther Riley, working on a newspaper and contributing regularly to Church Progress, published in St. Louis. In 1897, she returned to enter the novitiate and took the name of Sister Mary Borromeo to honor the memory of her deceased half-sister. From 1898 to 1927, she taught at the Academy and College, studying at Columbia University and receiving the degree of M.A. in English in 1924. In 1909 she went to Europe to study with two Sisters of Providence. She received her Ph.D. from Fordham University in 1929 and was then stationed at the Immaculata in Washington, D.C. until 1939. She collaborated with Sister Francis Helen McBarron on research for the tercentenary of the establishment of Catholicism in Maryland.

She was managing editor of the Aurora (1915-1923) and assistant editor of the Child of Mary, in which many of her poems and prose pieces appeared. She was chosen as Community Historian in 1939. She wrote Volume I of the History of the Sisters of Providence in America and left many notes towards the writing of Volume II, which she did not finish before her death.

She taught music, French, Lation, English and other subjects, leaving many pupils with wonderful experiences. She died unexpectedly, after a short illness, on December 20, 1953.

Information found within collection.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Sister Eugenia Logan on 1973/08/30.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2014/04/23 by Edythe Huffman. EAD finding aid created 2014/04/23 by Edythe Huffman.
Alma Brown papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.