Kathleen Sprows Cummings


Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Notre Dame
M.A., University of Notre Dame
M.A., University of Scranton
B.A., University of Scranton


Kathleen Sprows Cummings is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of History, and has served as the William W. and Anna Jean Cushwa Director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame since 2012.

Cummings published her first book, New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era, in 2009 with the University of North Carolina Press. She co-edited (with R. Scott Appleby), Catholics and the American Century: Recasting Narratives of U.S. History (Cornell University Press, 2012). Cummings' current book project, Citizen Saints: Catholics and Canonization in America, was supported by an NEH Fellowship during the academic year 2010-2011 and will be published in 2017 with the University of North Carolina Press.

In June 2014, Cummings convened (with John McGreevy) Notre Dame's Annual Italian Studies seminar in Rome. The seminar explored transatlantic approaches to the study of American Catholicism, with a particular focus on connections between Italy and the United States.Cummings is also serving as co-director (with Timothy Matovina and Robert Orsi) of the Cushwa Center's "Lived History of Vatican II Project," which explores the lcoal implementation of the Council in fifteen dioceses on six continents. The book will result in an edited volume to be published in 2016 with Cambridge University Press.

Cummings presently oversees the History of Women Religious, an academic organization devoted to the historical study of Catholic sisters int he United States. Cummings often serves as a media commentator on contemporary events in the Church. She appeared on NBC's live coverage of the conclave in March 2013, the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXII in April 2014, and will appear on NBC's live coverage of the papal visit to the United States in September 2015. She is frequently quoted in the New York Times and other media outlets on Catholic subjects. For more information on her appearances see:


  • AMST 30136  American Saints

  • AMST 30158 - Gender & American Catholicism

  • AMST 30164 - Catholics in America

  • AMST 43148 - Women and American Religion


Refereed/Invited Journal Articles and Chapters

  • “American Saints: Gender, Citizenship, and Catholic Devotion in the United States,” Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation

  • “Teaching About Women, Gender, and American Catholicism,” chap. 10 in The Catholic Studies Reader, ed. Margaret McGuinness and James T. Fisher, Fordham University Press, 2011. (refereed)

  • “Rewriting His Story: Vocations, Teaching Sisters, and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era,” Josephinium Journal of Theology 16: 1 9(Winter/Spring 2009): 6-23 (invited)

  • “The Wageless Work of Paradise: Teaching Sisters and American Religious History,” Journal of Religion and Society, Supplement Series 5, 2009, http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/pdf/2009-8.pdf (invited)

  • “The ‘New Woman’ at the ‘University’: Gender and American Catholic Identity in the Progressive Era,” chap. In The Religious History of American Women: Reimagining the Past, ed. Catherine A. Brekus (University of North Carolina Press, 2007). (refereed)

  • “‘We Owe it to our Sex as Well as our Religion’: The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Ladies Auxiliary, and the Founding of Trinity College for Catholic Women, Washington, D.C.” American Catholic Studies 115 (Winter 2004):21-36. (refereed)

Awards and Honors

  • Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2010-11.

  • Best Paper Prize, Religion Caucus of the American Studies Association, 2009 Annual Meeting.

  • Large Research Grant, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, October 2011

  • Miscellaneous Materials Grant, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, May 2010(applied toward intensive study of Italian language, summer 2010).

  • Mini-Conference Grant, “Transatlantic Catholicism: The French-American Connection,”Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, December 2009.

  • Joyce Award Grant, Office of the Provost, University of Notre Dame, (applied toward enhancing use of technology in classrooms), summer 2008.

  • Book Subvention Grant, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, 2008.

  • Edmund P. Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2007.

  • Lilly Faculty Fellow, Notre Dame Vocation Initiative, 2002.

















 "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."


"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 Magazine


"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