The Conference of Major Superiors of Women (CMSW) Sisters' Survey of 1967



This dataset was originally created by Sister Marie Augusta Neal (1921-2004), S.N.D..

Sr Neal was a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She started her teaching career at Emmanuel College in 1953 later receiving a doctorate in sociology from Harvard University in 1963. In 1965 she became Director of the Research Committee for the Conference of Major Superiors of Women (later renamed The Leadership Conference of Women Religious). In this position she began a study of the lives and attitudes of women religious in light of the implementation of changes brought on by the decrees of the Vatican II Council.

In 1967 she directed a survey of all members of congregations of women religious. She prepared a survey of 649 questions which went out to nearly 400 congregations numbering over 130,000 individual sisters, and some demographic information. The dataset presented here consists of the responses to this survey. She did follow-up surveys from 1968 to 1990, but none of these later studies involved near this number of respondents and they are not part of this dataset. The surveys and looked at the values and beliefs of women religious in a formative period for all religious congregations in the wake of Vatican II. Most of the survey questions elicited answers in the form of Likert scales (e.g. agree, neutral, disagree). Sister Neal published extensively on the results of her work. The Sister Survey, as her collective research became known, is not without controversy but the results are still of great interest today.

The information compiled by Sr. Neal during her decades of research came to the University of Notre Dame Archives in 1995 and 1996 as part of the Sr. Neal papers. The original magnetic tapes (21 tapes) that recorded the findings of Sr. Neal’s work were copied to contemporary format tapes (a total of two tapes) in late 1995, then to two cartridges and finally to a CD. The University of Notre Dame Archives fully documented all of the transfers, along with the technical information that allow the current dataset to be extracted from all of the information contained on original tapes donated to the University Archives.

The finding aid of Sr Neal papers can be found at

This resource consists of six parts:

  1. codebook.txt - contains all 649 survey questions or variables, and pre-defined multiple choice answers to each question.

  2. sisters67.csv - comma-delimited text file. Contains responses to each of the 649 questions from 130,453 individual respondents. Each row represents the response from an individual sister. The first column contains unique IDs for each sister. All other columns contain the sisters’ chosen answers to each of the 649 questions, which are cross-referenced in the codebook. The header/first row contains variable names.

  3. sisters67.dta - the same dataset as 2, in Stata .dta format.

  4. v1hist.png - a visualization of the percentage distribution of the responses to question 1 of the survey. This serves as an example of a possible analysis or use of the the dataset.

  5. - sample code to produce v1hist.png in Stata.

  6. readme.pdf - basic instructions on how to access and use the survey data.


Attribute NameValues
  • Sr. Marie Augusta Neal

  • University of Notre Dame Archives

  • Leadership Conference of Women Religious

  • Conference of Major Superiors of Women

  • Hesburgh Libraries

  • English

Departments and Units
Spatial Coverage
  • United States of America

Temporal Coverage
  • 1967

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Digital Object Identifier


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Referenced by

Works that list this one in as being related to them.

Work Title
The Conference of Major Superiors of Women (CMSW) Sisters' Survey of 1989