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Partners in Mission - Brandi Sharlow

Posted 7/29/2020

In the month of August we pay tribute to Brandi Sharlow who graces our presence in the Ursuline Archives.

Like a puzzle, piecing together a rich history of photos, newspaper stories, writings, and other materials can be a daunting challenge, yet it is an exciting undertaking that Brandi Sharlow has eagerly embraced.

Brandi has been working as an archival processor of the Ursuline Archives for the past year. She also is currently a teacher at St. Ursula Academy and was referred to this position by fellow teacher, Sue Gray, who connected her with Sr. Donna Frey regarding helping to reorganize the Ursuline collection.

The archival processor position entails reading and analyzing the primary sources collected by the Ursulines since they moved and founded their school in 1854. This collection includes correspondence, newspaper articles, financial records, biographical information for the Ursulines, photographs, publications, and other miscellaneous objects and records from approximately 1854 – 2010. The position then requires organizing these archival records in such a way that they can be used for research and preserving the history of the Toledo Ursulines.

“What I enjoy most about this position is learning the rich history of the Toledo Ursulines and piecing together their story,” Brandi says. “It is so much fun, also frustrating, when a mystery emerges and I get to dig through the collection and use some basic research skills and contacts with other archives to put together a complete story and answer questions that arise. The historical narrative is fascinating and such detailed and honest records were kept which helps paint such a picture of the history of this amazing organization.”

Brandi says digging through such archives can be exhilarating when she and Sr. Margaret Manion have a breakthrough in some investigation. One such highlight is when they discovered what had happened to an Ursuline nun (Sr. Sacred Heart) who was sent to Montana in 1883 and largely disappeared from the record. Her story is the making of a soap opera. Another recent highlight was investigating Mary Fields on a sub-project for Sr. Donna and realizing they had been going down the wrong path. A little genealogy research helped connect the dots and they learned that two nuns with similar names in the 1800s had been confused and the story was misstated in many archival reflections regarding Mary Fields.

Brandi certainly comes to the Ursulines with many qualifications. She is a Toledo native and has worked in college and graduate school for the University of Toledo Canaday Center Archival Collection and Rare Books. She studied Archives and Museology at Bowling Green State University to pursue a career in archival work. However, God had a different plan. “Much like the Ursulines who are called to educate, my path in graduate school brought an opportunity for me to fall in love with teaching and sharing my passion and knowledge of history. I have been teaching Research and Social Studies at St. Ursula Academy for the past five years an am completely immersed in the community and culture of this iconic Toledo institution. I am truly blessed that my love for teaching and my passion for archives was brought together by the Ursulines.”

We are truly grateful to have Brandi as a partner in our Ursuline mission. Brandi adds, “It is truly a dream to get to dive into history and relive these experiences from such dedicated and devoted women.”