(This article originally appeared in the TAU-USA Spring Issue #109)

Sharon Dale OFS, National Archivist

photos of displaysLast August’s Quinquennial was indeed a special event. More than 600 attendees from all over the United States participated. We had inspiring speakers, stimulating breakout sessions, multiple opportunities for prayer and singing, perusing our many vendors for books, religious supplies, totes, pictures and what have you, and, of course, there was our OFS Museum.

Tom McNamara, OFS, National Historian, and I collected historical documents that spanned the 100 years we’ve hosted National Congresses. There were agendas, notes of special speakers, newspaper write-ups, and many, many pictures of Qs over the years. Our displays traced the development of the

National Association, the old Province system, and the new autonomous regions, as well as many of the people and events involved. One table showed our collection of TAU-USA publications, including one so old that it doesn’t have an issue number on it! Tom also contributed minutes of early meetings from the St. Thomas More Region.

I drove to New York, where our National Archives are kept and sent more than 250 documents of early history, which included the establishment of regions. We also displayed a few old “habits” that early Tertiaries wore in their fraternity meetings.

Tom had a “mystery box,” a special treat for anyone interested in archiving. It included the exact contents of a typical box arriving at our archives—no special order or organization, ratty- looking onion-skin papers, letters, and hundreds of old staples. That is what every archivist, whether at the local, regional, or national level, is challenged with. Each piece of paper has to be examined, sorted, and scanned into the computer for safe keeping.

A very special display was the beautiful 6-foot banner that was loaned to us from St. Carlo church in Saint Louis dedicated to the Third Order Franciscans. It was very old―we had a “no touch” sign on it because of its delicate nature.

We hope that all who visited our OFS History Museum appreciated the collections on display. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.