From the archives: A spoonful of history

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

The original story behind this spoon was that Mother Caroline Friess brought it with her from Germany when she emigrated to the United States in 1847. The issue, however, is that it was engraved with the following: “Ven. Mother M. Caroline.” When Mother Caroline came to the U.S., she was known simply as “Sister Caroline,” and was not given the title of “Venerable” until much later. It’s possible that the spoon was engraved later, but seemed unlikely. The spoon was marked as “1847 Rogers Bros.” – this matches the year that Mother Caroline came to the US, so maybe a quick internet search would clear up this mystery.

What started as a quick search, turned into a deep dive down the spoon collector’s rabbit hole! Turns out “1847 Rogers Bros.” was the name of the company and had nothing to do with the year it was manufactured. Further, the company was based out of Connecticut so it seems unlikely she would have bought the spoon in Bavaria. Apparently spoons made by this company are quite collectable, so there is a lot of information available on the internet. I kept digging and found that company produced different patterns on their silverware. A collector can use the pattern to determine when the spoon was made. After searching longer than I care to admit, I succeeded in learning that this particular spoon’s design was called “Tipped” and was first produced in 1879.

Looking at Mother Caroline’s history we learn that on August 29, 1880 she was named as the First Commissary General for North America. Chances are high, that the spoon, first produced in 1879 and engraved with “Ven. Mother M. Caroline,” was given to Mother Caroline to commemorate her appointment as the Commissary General!

This item is housed at the School Sisters of Notre Dame North American Archives, Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, Wis. Learn more at