Collection - Presentation Congregation Archives Photograph Collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Presentation Congregation Archives Photograph Collection

General material designation

  • Graphic material

Parallel title

Photograph series

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title of collection was created as a result of the nature in which photographs were collected by the Presentation Congregation Archives

Level of description


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Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1865-2000, predominantly 1950-1995 (Creation)
    Presentation Congregation Archives

Physical description area

Physical description

7,250 photographs

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

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Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

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.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The collection consists of approximately 7250 photographs (1865-2000, predominantly 1950-1995) of which approximately 7000 have been processed; 69 albums; three boxes of slides (ca. 1150); thirteen sheets of negatives (ca. 200); two daguerreotypes (1840s or 1850s), and 25 stereo cards.

The slides are stored in slide cases and are grouped according to a specific theme such as a school or an event. While many of the albums and scrapbooks were given to the archives by various convents, schools and individual Sisters, the archive has also created several albums with the intent to highlight a particular theme or event such as "Jubilees," "The Lantern," and "Social Gatherings."

Approximately 7000 photographs of the collection have been processed. The following information has been deducted from a random sampling of 546 cards from the photograph index: the majority of these photographs, 25%, measure 8.9cm x 8.9 cm ( 3 « x 3 « inches) with the second largest group, 17%, measuring 10.16cm x 15.24cm (4 x 6 inches); 53% of the sample were noted as colour photographs while 43% were noted as black and white; 81% of all the photographs are described as being in good condition with only 2% being rated as poor.

The photographs are organized according to the Presentation Congregation Archives finding aid and therefore cover a wide variety of topics. About one third of the photographs are of the various branches of the Presentation Congregation. The Presentation Motherhouse in Cathedral Square, St. John's has the largest amount of photographs (81) in the collection with the second largest being from Our Lady of Assumption Mission in Davis Inlet (71). Another large group of pictures (ca. 250) depict the Sisters themselves as they go through the process of becoming professed and embrace their ministries. As well, these pictures look at the Sister's personal life, their relationships and visits with family and friends.

A third subject that is given a great deal of attention is education (7cm) and the various schools that the sisters taught in. The final subject identified as a main focus in the collection are the various "Associates" associated with the Presentation Congregation (6cm) such as the Archdiocese of St. John's, Grand Falls, St. George's and Labrador/Schefferville, the various parishes, Archbishops and Bishops, clergy, visitors, and other religious Congregations.

Notes area

Physical condition

The majority of the photographs have been processed and are enclosed in protective sleeves.

Immediate source of acquisition

Presentation Congregation Archives


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

While not documented, it is possible that the negatives and slides in the collection correspond with some photographs.

Restrictions on access

Restrictions on access apply. Consult the archivist.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Three boxes of index cards are available and are subdivided to correspond with the subjects that are identified in the Presentation Congregation Archives Finding Aid.

Associated materials

Presentation Congregation fonds

Related materials


No further accruals expected.

General note

The artifacts that were collected by the Presentation Congregation Archives are stored in the Heritage Room. A complete list of items are included in the Presentation Congregation Archives finding aid under "Artifacts."

Alternative identifier(s)

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Standard number

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Description record identifier

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Level of detail


Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created - April 12, 2013

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


Accession area