From the archives: More than teachers

From the Michele Levandoski, archivist at the School Sisters of Notre Dame North American Archives:

Cookie cutter in shape of a bellWhen people hear the name, “School Sisters of Notre Dame,” they think of them as educators. However, not all SSND were teachers. There were a group of sisters known as “homemaking sisters,” whose job it was to keep the sisters living in the Motherhouses, convents, orphanages and boarding schools fed and clothed, and to keep the living quarters clean. Those who worked in smaller convents would have been responsible for everything needed to manage a household – cooking, cleaning, laundry, buying groceries, etc. Homemaking sisters who worked in larger convents (especially those schools that had boarders) and the Motherhouses might have had one specific job, such as cook, laundress, baker, etc.

Cookie cutter in shape of a flower

The photos are two cook cutters used by the homemaking sisters. One is a lily and the other is the Liberty Bell. The cook cutters were most likely made by the sisters themselves.


The School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) North American Archives is the repository of historical documents and artifacts for the congregation in North America. Located at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the archives include more than 2,000 linear feet of records that date back to the establishment of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in North America. Learn more at