Papers of an outspoken advocate for the rights of women in society and the Catholic Church who was instrumental in founding the National Coalition of American Nuns and the Institute of Women Today (directing the latter from 1974 until 2000, after eight years on the staff of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice). Included are correspondence, subject files, press clippings, and publications.

Related material is in the records of the Institute of Women Today, National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, and National Coalition of American Nuns, in this repository.

Gift of Margaret Traxler, 1973.

Biographical Note

Margaret Ellen Traxler was born in 1924 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Traxler joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1941 and assumed the religious name of Sr. Mary Peter. She completed a bachelor's degree in English from St. Catherine's College and later received a master's degree from the University of Notre Dame. For 17 years Sr. Traxler taught in high schools and colleges, before devoting herself to civil rights work and advocacy for the rights of women in society and the Catholic Church. Settling in Chicago, she became head of the education department of the National Catholic Conference for  Interracial Justice in 1965 and served as the organization's executive director from 1971 to 1973. While at the NCCIJ, she established the National Coalition of American Nuns, remaining a leader of that group for the rest of her public life. Sister Traxler also championed the State of Israel and the cause of Jews seeking to emigrate from the Soviet Union. In 1982 she joined 23 other nuns in signing an ad in the New York Times on the diversity of Catholic teaching on abortion. The "Vatican 24" were threatened with dismissal from their congregations if they did not retract their support for the statement. Sister Margaret co-founded the Institute of Women Today in 1974 and directed the agency until suffering a paralyzing stroke in 2000. She died two years later at the motherhouse of her order in Mankato, Minnesota..


Scope and Content

Series 1.1, Private Correspondence, 1953-1995, 1995, undated, contains letters to Sr.Traxler of a personal nature, arranged in chronological order.

Series 1.2, Private  Correspondence by Correspondent, 1958-1994, undated, consists of letters from close friends and associates of Sr. Traxler, separately foldered by name. Notable correspondents include Sr. Ritamary Bradley, Sr. Ann Gillen, and Jessica Powers.

Series 2, Writings by Sr. Margaret Ellen Traxler, 1950-1992, undated, contains articles, book reviews, letters to the editor and commentaries, and unpublished manuscripts.

Series 3, Honors, 1970-1995, undated, contains information on awards and honorary degrees received by MET.

Series 4, Speaking Engagements, 1963-1996, undated, documents talks delivered by MET. Included are three audio recordings from 1975.

Series 5, Biographical and Subject Files, 1965-1994, undated, includes Sr. Traxler's oral history memoir, photographs, and correspondence and information relating to issues of concern to her, including abortion, peace, women's rights, and the rights of Soviet Jewry.

Series 6, Family Papers, 1916-1918, 1924, 1941-1994, undated, contains information on the Traxler family, including letters  MET's father wrote to her mother during World War One.

Series 7, Writings about Sr. Margaret Ellen Traxler, 1941-2002, includes a file of newspaper clippings and three separately foldered articles.