Why did the community choose to incorporate under the name of the academy in 1866? We don’t know for certain, but Sister Mary Buckner notes the following: “Once in possession of this instrument [the act of incorporation], the trustees of St. Mary’s Academy felt themselves legally authorized to confer diplomas on such pupils as were qualified to go through the regular course of academic studies….” Evidently educational institutions required legal standing to confer credentials that hospitals and orphanages did not need to accomplish their work.
The original charter is notable for several reasons. First, it gives the academy’s name as “St. Mary’s Female Academy, conducted by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, of Leavenworth.” A mouthful, to be sure, and notice the inclusion of St. Vincent de Paul in the community’s name. Second, the physical location of the institution’s operations are listed as “…the city of Leavenworth and all cities, towns, and points in the State of Kansas, and at all places in the States of Missouri, Nebraska, and California, and in the Territories of New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana, and in such other cities and points and in such other States as may be determined upon hereafter.” In 1866, no sisters were missioned outside of Kansas. Despite their poverty, they clearly anticipated founding missions in the West in the near future. Finally, the document clearly states that the institution is not simply in the business of education. Quoting from the fifth article: “The objects for which the company desire to be incorporated are: to buy, sell, lease, rent, hold, exchange, and dispose of real and personal property for educational, religious, hospital, and charitable purposes….”
In 1892, the community’s charter was amended. The first article and section of the new bylaws reads: “The members of the Corporation of “St Mary’s Academy” shall consist of professed members of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, of Leavenworth, Kansas, and such as may hereafter become members of such Society.” Again, the academy name was legally applied to the community of sisters.
In 1915 the community gained formal recognition from Rome as a religious institute of pontifical rite. The 1915 constitution refers to the community by its new canonical name, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. Twenty two years later, the canonical name was finally adopted as the community’s legal name. One might surmise that the name change heralded a separate incorporation for St. Mary’s Academy and Saint Mary College. However, the college was not separately incorporated until 1992.
Although the founding date of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth remains 1858, it’s good to know that there’s another occasion to celebrate. Happy 80th Birthday (as a registered corporation), Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth!
 Circular Letter from Mother Mary Josepha, January 10, 1937. Circular Letters. Box 1, Folder 4. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives. Leavenworth, Kansas.
 Buckner, Mary. History of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas. (Kansas City, Mo.: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co., 1898), 81.
 Original Charter (copy), 1868. Charters and Incorporation Documents, 1868-2000. Box 1, Folder 2. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives. Leavenworth, Kansas.
 1892 Charter, Bylaws, and Signatures, 1892-1905. Charters and Incorporation Documents, 1868-2000. Box 1, Folder 3. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives. Leavenworth, Kansas.
 University of Saint Mary, Inc. Business Summary, Kansas Business Entity Search. https://www.kansas.gov/bess (accessed December 27, 2016).