Timeline of the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart – Barbara Vesey Provincial Archivist

Plans to create an online timeline of the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart began in 2016, as part of the planned celebrations for 2017 around the 175th anniversary of the Society’s presence in the UK. A teaching order of nuns, the Society was founded in France in 1800 by Madeleine Sophie Barat, who was canonised as St Madeleine Sophie in 1925. A group of seven nuns came over to Britain from France in 1842, establishing schools for Catholic girls in England, Scotland and Ireland (then part of the UK). The first school in England was at Berrymead Manor, Acton, London; in 1850 this school relocated to Roehampton, where it remained until the Second World War, when it moved again, this time to Woldingham. In its place on the grounds at Roehampton a tertiary college established by the Society was relocated from central London and renamed Digby Stuart College after the two English nuns, Mabel Digby and Janet Erskine Stuart, who had been Superiors General of the international Society. This college remains to this day, and is now one of the four constituent colleges that make up the University of Roehampton. The nuns of the Society have the appellation ‘RSCJ’ for ‘réligieuse du Sacré Coeur de Jésus’, the French for ‘women religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’.

Find out more on the creation of the timeline here: https://aralearning.wordpress.com/2020/04/24/timeline-of-the-history-of-the-society-of-the-sacred-heart-barbara-vesey-provincial-archivist/

CAS Conference Cancelled

Dear Members

In view of the latest advice from the government and in line with action being taken by other organisations, such as ARA (Archives and Records Association) and the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University, CAS Council has reluctantly decided to cancel the annual conference, which was due to take place at High Leigh, 18 – 20 May 2020. Anyone who has already applied will receive a full refund.

We have been monitoring the developing situation and have been in close touch with the conference centre at High Leigh over the past weeks and this now seems to us to be the best, indeed the only, course of action in the light of current advice and the best way to safeguard our members. The society stands to lose in the region of £4,000 by this action but there is no immediate alternative. Even if we were to go ahead which, in the end, might not be possible, the restrictions on movement and the advice to older members of the community to self-isolate would probably mean few people would attend and it would not be possible to present the sort of conference members have come to expect.

It is possible that we might be able to arrange with High Leigh to re-schedule the conference for a date later in the year, maybe September or October although, at the moment, we have no way of knowing if  the present crisis will have passed by then. Financially, we might recoup some money if we did this, but only if there was a good attendance. Finding a date convenient to all, at relatively short notice, could be difficult, and people might be reluctant to come for a variety of reasons. A good attendance in the autumn could impact on attendance at the May 2021 conference, which is already booked. It would be very helpful if you can let me know if you would be interested in a conference in autumn 2020 and another in May 2021 or if you think we should cancel the 2020 conference. Would a day conference in the autumn be of interest?

We will let you know as soon as possible what is decided and continue to provide you with CAS publications as they become available.

Please do get in touch with me with any comments and suggestions.

I wish you all well during these difficult few months and pray the Lord will bless and protect us all.

Judith Smeaton, CAS chair       


Catholic Archives Society ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2020

Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 May 

High Leigh Conference Centre

Lord St., Hoddesdon

EN11 8SG

Tel: 01992 463016


Monday 18th May

15.45 Arrivals, tea and registration

17.00 Welcome and overview of the Conference

Session 1: Donna Maguire, Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, ‘The archives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland’

19.00 Evening meal

20.00 Book launch

Tuesday 19th May

8.00   Mass

8.30   Breakfast

9.15   Session 2: Margaret Harcourt Williams, FCJ Archives, ‘Working with the FCJ archives: a case study’

10.15 Coffee/Tea

10.45 Session 3: Dr Hannah Thomas, The Bar Convent, ‘Rediscovering the Archives of the Bar Convent, York’

12.00 Lunch

13.30 Session 4: Interest groups

14.30 Coffee/Tea
          Free time

17.30 Session 5: Annual General Meeting

19.00 Evening Meal

Wednesday 20th May

8.30   Breakfast

9.15   Session 6: Lawrence Gregory, National Institute of Newman Studies Archives, ‘Introduction to utilising Facebook and Twitter to promote your archive service’

10.30 Coffee

11.00 Session 7: Open Forum (including feedback from interest groups)

12.10 Mass

13.00 Lunch (followed by departures)


Residential £185 (members), £195 (non-members)

Various day delegate rates as per booking form.


Booking forms and any queries about bookings or accommodation should be addressed to:

Mr Jim Hughes, 12 Holburn Terrace, Ryton, Tyne and Wear, NE40 3DQ

Cheques should be made payable to Catholic Archives Society.  The closing date for bookings is Wednesday 22nd April. If your booking is likely to be delayed, please contact Jim as soon as possible to advise him of this, as bookings will be dealt with in order of receipt.


The Society is committed to paying for the rooms we have reserved and so it may not be possible to make refunds if rooms remain unfilled.


The local Railway station is Broxbourne.
The station is two miles from High Leigh, but there are plenty of taxis available at the station at reasonable rates (typically £6).

Further information

For further information about the conference contact: Karen O’Connor. Tel: 020 79014896. Email: karen.oconnor@cbcew.org.uk

2020 Catholic Archives Society Conference

The 2020 Conference will be held at High Leigh from 18-20 May. Speakers include:

Donna Maguire: ‘The archives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland’

Margaret Harcourt Williams: ‘Working with the FCJ Archives: a case study’

Edel Robinson: ‘Films made and commissioned by missionary institutes in Ireland’

Lawrence Gregory: ‘Using social media for archives’

Further details, including the full programme and booking form, will be issued shortly.

Records Manager and Archivist – Medical Mission Sisters

Records Manager and Archivist Based in Acton, London W3 9LP

A committed records manager and archivist is required on a part-time basis by mutual agreement to work in the General Archives of the Medical Mission Sisters, an international congregation of Roman Catholic women religious with headquarters located in West London.

You will possess a recognized qualification in records management and/or archives administration with a minimum of 1-2 years post qualification experience. We welcome applications also from those newly qualified with experience through volunteering and internship. You will be expected to demonstrate a high degree of self-motivation and initiative working in a small private general archive. You must have good communication and interpersonal skills for teamwork and an experience-based knowledge of IT.

You will be responsible for the overall management and administration of the General Archive.

You will liaise in an advisory capacity with the Sisters who are responsible for local archives in other parts of the Society.

The archive chronicles the twentieth century development of the Roman Catholic Church’s provision of professional medical care by women for women and the evolution of its healing mission. You will have a unique opportunity to contribute to this rich international historical archive.

We are reasonably accessible by transport and have a lovely set up.

Part-time – 21 hours

(Salary) £ 28,000 – £ 29,000, pro rata, depending on experience

For a full job description email: Generalate@medicalmissionsisters.org.uk or by telephone 0208 992 6444

Closing Date: October 30, 2019

To apply please send CV with cover letter plus 2 references to Generalate@medicalmissionsisters.org.uk

A charity registered in England and Wales: 1072554

Twentieth-Century Lay Catholic Action and Spirituality in Britain

Call for Contributors

Twentieth-Century Lay Catholic Action and Spirituality in Britain

Maria Power, University of Oxford and Jonathan Bush, Durham University

British Catholic archives hold a wealth of material relating to Catholic lay action and spirituality in the twentieth-century. For instance, Ushaw College Library holds the papers of a number of lay societies, including the Newman Association, the Catholic Social Workers Guild, the Young Christian Students and the National Board of Catholic Women.  There are also many other Catholic archives which  hold similar collections: such as the papers of the Young Christian Workers  in the Salford Diocesan Archive and the Catholic Union collection in the Westminster Diocesan Archives.

Despite this, little academic research has been carried out which allows us to understand the important role played by the lay apostolate. In order to rectify this historiographical gap we propose to produce an edited collection of essays focusing on twentieth-century lay Catholic action and spiritualty through the prism of such groups and how they helped to shape the experience of the ordinary lives of Catholics during this period.

Possible topics could include:

  • The impact of Vatican II on the lay apostolate
  • The role of lay societies in the First World War/Second World War
  • How ‘Catholic’ were Catholic lay societies?
  • How the Catholic lay apostolate responded to the challenges of               secularisation

If you are interested in contributing to this collection please send a 400-word proposal to either Dr Maria Power, maria.power@bfriars.ox.ac.uk  or Dr Jonathan Bush, jonathan.bush@durham.ac.uk by 31st October 2019. Essays will be 8000 words in length and will be due with the editors by 1st January 2021.



Thursday 3rd October 2019


Water damage: Dealing with water damaged papers after a disaster


Sue Hourigan, Senior Conservator,

Berkshire Record Office


Berkshire Record Office, 9 Coley Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 6AF


2 to 5pm, to be confirmed


£35 members, £37 non-members


Please send a cheque made payable to Catholic Archives Society and send to the CAS Treasurer:

Mr Jim Hughes, 12 Holburn Terrace, Ryton, Tyne and Wear NE40 3DQ

Further information Annaig Boyer, annaigboyer@hotmail.com