The Early Years

The Ohio Province is one of multiple regional communities of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur around the world. It is also the oldest in the United States. We trace our roots to France and Belgium where St. Julie Billiart and Françoise Blin de Bourdon founded the international order in 1804.

Eight Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur arrived in Cincinnati from Belgium on October 31, 1840. They were eager to do the work that our foundress, St. Julie Billiart, called, "The most important work on earth." They came to teach.

Less than three months later, our Sisters established the first Notre Dame school in the United States. On January 14, 1841, the Young Ladies' Literary Institute and Boarding School opened its doors at Sixth and Sycamore Streets in the heart of Cincinnati. Soon after, the Sisters founded the city's first free-standing school for the poor at St. Xavier Parish.

Expanding their work to Toledo and then to Chillicothe, in 1848 our Sisters began teaching in two parish schools. In 1849, we branched out from Ohio to Boston and established a school for young girls in a poor parish in the city.

After Boston, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur continued to expand our educational work throughout the midwest and along the east coast, providing free education for thousands of immigrant children. In 1897, we established Trinity College in Washington D.C., the first four-year Catholic liberal arts college for women in the country.

Go here to see a full list of Notre Dame schools established by the Ohio Sisters.

Sr. Julie Billiart Picture

Sr. Julie Billiart: Woman of Courage

1850 6th Street Students Cincinnati Picture

1850 6th Street Students Cincinnati

Mt. Notre Dame Academy, Reading 1860 Picture

Mt. Notre Dame Academy, Reading 1860