I finished and defended my dissertation in November 2008. I published my findings in 2009. There are far too many reasons why I began studying the girls and the sisters to write in a post. I was not a GS girl.
I began my research in 2002 and spoke or emailed with many girls who lived in the homes between 1940-1980. I did not know any girls, but they found me and spread the word.
I also stayed in the St Louis Good Shepherd convent twice over two summers to study in the archives. The sisters were very gracious to me, a stranger-researcher. They did not restrict me or prevent me from seeing all that they had in the archives. The student records are not kept in the archives. They are kept elsewhere, so I did not find particular girls in the files. I learned good and sad things from both the girls and the sisters. Some girls really loved and still love the sisters, while others said it was the worst time of their lives. I collected both sides. I was welcomed into many private groups and they trusted me to use their stories. I am considering a follow-up book or something to let their voices be heard. I did not reveal any of my sources unless they specifically requested to be known. All privacy issues were upheld.
I am still in touch with many of my participants and I continue to study the homes. Several more girls came forward after my work was published and told me their stories. I wish I could have included them in the original research. This was not a dirt digging project, but a look at a lifestyle that formed the identities of many young women.
The Good Shepherd homes were a well-kept secret. I was amazed at what my study showed. In some respects, I think there should still be some places like the GSH. The concept worked in many ways. The girls mostly said that if it were not for the sisters they would be dead. Many were good girls from bad homes.
I would be happy to speak on the phone if you'd like. Let me know. My email is email@example.com