St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
CA A1C 5L4
Presentation Congregation Archives
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation was founded by Nano Nagle in 1776 in Cork, Ireland. Miss Nagle was educated at home and in France. When she returned to Ireland, where the penal laws prohibiting Catholic schools were still in force, she undertook "to labour for the instruction of the poor." By 1769 she had organized seven schools throughout the city of Cork, all secretly rented and staffed at her own expense. Eventually, she persuaded the Ursuline Order to sponsor a community in Cork to undertake the education of girls as boarders and day pupils. However, the children who could not attend school inside the enclosure of the convent were still not being educated, so in 1775, Nano Nagle and three other women of like mind formed a small religious congregation known as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Their main purpose was to teach the children of the poor. After their foundress' death in 1784, the name of their religious congregation was changed to the Order of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In 1833, Bishop Michael Fleming of Newfoundland went to Ireland and requested the Presentation Sisters from the Galway community to establish a mission in Newfoundland. In a deep spirit of generosity, four of the Sisters volunteered. They were: Sister Mary Magdalen O'Shaughnessy, Sister Mary Xaverius Lynch, Sister Mary Bernard Kirwan and Sister Mary Xavier Maloney. They arrived in St. John's on September 21, 1833 on the brig Ariel and the Sisters opened their first school on October 21 of the same year. There were 450 children eager to be admitted.
The formal organization of the materials that had accumulated within the congregation since 1833 was begun by Sister Mary Teresa Francis Tobin in 1972 and has been continued by the Sister Archivists ever since. The first record keeper for the Presentation Congregation was Sister Mary Agnes O'Keefe.
The present Presentation Congregation Archives occupies the remnant of the previous Presentation School on Barnes Road, St. John's. The new archival site consists of three large rooms, namely: 1. The Heritage Area. 2. The Office and 3. The Records Room.
The collection, which includes manuscripts, artifacts, record books, photographs and personal papers, documents the history of the Presentation Congregation in Newfoundland from the arrival of the first four volunteers to the present day. The Archives also holds materials related to education and to other apostolates in which the Presentation Order is involved. An interesting part of the Archives is the photographic collection that presents a visual history of the Presentation Congregation in Newfoundland.
An inventory of the holdings and finding aids to the various collections are available.
Access to the public is by appointment between 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from September to June. During the summer months, the Archives is closed to the public but may be opened by request, if an archivist is available.
Some material may be restricted for reasons of confidentially.
Some photocopying is available on site at a minimum cost.
Created - May 13, 2013