We are delighted to announce that Isabel Keating, archivist at Society of the Holy Child Jesus, has taken on the role of editor for the The Journal of the Catholic Archive Society.
We are indebted to the hard work of former editor and current chair of the society, Dr Jonathan Bush, for all his hard work over the last 7 years. Handing over the reigns to Isabel will allow him to focus more time on the work of Chair and we are extremely grateful for his ongoing dedication to the society.
If you would like to submit an article for the next edition of the journal, please check out our guidance notes, which can be found here, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The primary function of the SMG archive service is to preserve the central heritage collections, library and archives of the congregation, as the memory of the congregation and its works, guided by the norms and standards of the archival profession and other approved standards and international guidelines where they are applicable; to facilitate access to the archives and heritage collections by the congregation, its employees, associates and clients; and in a wider context to serve as part of the cultural heritage of world Catholicism, and hence to encourage a wider research use, in accord with the views of the Roman Catholic Church as expressed in documents such as The Pastoral Function of Church Archives, (February 1997).
The heritage collections consist of historical records, rare books, library items and artefacts, in a variety of formats, mainly dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. The Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God was founded in 1872 by Fanny Margaret Taylor (1832-1900), a Roman Catholic convert from Anglicanism who had served as a nurse during the Crimean War, and whose name in religion was Mother Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Heart. Archival collections comprise papers of Mother Magdalen and her family; records relating to the early years of the congregation, including correspondence with prominent Catholic clergy such as H. E. Manning and J. H. Newman; papers and literary MSS. of Mother Magdalen’s friend and supporter Lady Georgiana Fullerton; and records of the various works and institutions administered by the congregation, including hospitals, schools, hostels, refuges and care homes in Britain, Ireland, and continental Europe, and latterly in the USA, South America and East Africa. The core of the library collections are historical editions of the literary worksof Mother Magdalen and Lady Georgiana Fullerton, and they also include various partial runs of popular Catholic journals, some of which are now considered rare, including the Lamp and the Messenger of the Sacred Heart. Artefacts, artworks and temporary displays of archives relating to the history of the congregation can be viewed at the Venerable Magdalen Taylor Heritage Centre at St Mary’s Convent in Brentford, and those wishing to see the displays should please contact the archivist.
Researchers are admitted by appointment only, on application to the archivist. The archives are generally open during ordinary office hours, but this can be negotiated with the archivist. External enquirers need to apply in writing to the archivist, and access is subject to the approval of the Generalate (governing council) of the congregation. For those doing extended research in the archives, a letter of introduction, e.g. from an academic supervisor, is generally also required. Enquiries which may require the release of potentially sensitive or confidential material relating to individuals need to be supplied in writing, by post or electronically, and the aim is to answer such enquiries within one month of their receipt. An enquirer may be required to supply documentary evidence confirming their identity before personal data can be released, as is required by data protection legislation.
Mr. Paul Shaw, Archivist, St. Mary’s Convent, 10, The Butts, Brentford, Middlesex , TW8 8BQ
SEEKING PROFESSIONAL ARCHIVIST TO JOIN OUR TEAM Job Title: Archivist Salary: As per Archives and Records Association (ARA) recommended rates. Length of Contract: Initial FTC contract for two years, possible permanent placement after initial contract. Role location: MMM Beechgrove, Drogheda, Co. Louth Hours: Negotiable
The Organisation: The Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) is an International Missionary Congregation of women religious founded by Mother Mary Martin in Nigeria, in 1937. Desiring to share Christ’s Healing Love, our members live within marginalised communities focusing on the care of mother and child and the fostering of family life. We go to places where the need is greatest and work in the areas of health, sustainable development and human rights. Presently, MMMs are serving in 12 countries around the world with Sisters coming from 19 countries and are trained in a variety of health-related professions In Ireland, our Motherhouse is in Drogheda Co. Louth.
Role Description: Medical Missionaries of Mary Archive holds the records of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, a religious congregation of women founded by Mother Mary Martin in 1937. http://www.mmmworldwide.org. The Archivist will be responsible for managing and maintaining these records.
Job Specification: Responsibility for day-to-day archivist duties including enquiries from members of the public, researchers, and users within the MMM Congregation • Collaborate with other MMM departments and beyond. • Develop a clear work plan for the archives, operationalise the plan and provide progress reports at intervals, including: o Plan and facilitate conversion of legacy catalogues for upload into archive cataloguing software, including overseeing installation and implementation of software such as AtoM or Axiell Collections o Development and implementation of digital preservation strategy • Ensure the preservation of the MMM collections: o Advising on the ongoing organisation and storage of archival material o Preparation for a possible transfer of archive to new storage site • Maintain and review departmental systems, policies and procedures • Advising and working with MMM colleagues in Archives Department • Management of departmental budget • Such other duties relating to the MMM collections as may arise
Essential Criteria: • Qualified archivist, with an undergraduate degree and a post-graduate qualification as an archivist, awarded by a recognised third-level institution • At least three years’ post-qualification experience in archives sector, including some leadership responsibility and/or project delivery • Demonstrable knowledge of best practice and recent developments in archives and record management, including collections care, preservation and storage, and relevant cataloguing and preservation standards • Ability to formulate, implement and monitor strategies, procedures and policies for day-to-day running of archive • High level of IT competency including use of MS Office applications, particularly Word and Excel, and archive cataloguing software
Desirable skills: • Excellent written and verbal communication skills • Excellent administrative skills appropriate to the role, including budget management • Attention to detail and accuracy • Understanding of copyright and data protection in archival context • Ability to anticipate and respond to changing professional needs and technical/digital innovations, including through a commitment to continuous professional development • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team • This is a stand-alone function so self-motivation is essential.
How to apply: Letter of application and an up to date CV should be sent to 30 April 2021 to: email@example.com Closing date for application is 04 May 2021.
The ARCC (Archival Resources for Catholic Collections) Educational Resources Working Group will host its first webinar to revisit the importance and enduring value of Catholic religious archival collections. Speakers will address the significance of archives for preserving community identity and religious men and women’s lasting impact on society.
Acknowledging that many communities are consolidating or facing completion, the webinar underscores the community’s permanent legacy: its societal presence and the institutions that served people of every race and creed. Archives are important as they serve as a bridge from the past to the future, in preserving the Christian witness of committed communities and individuals.
Danielle Bonetti, CSJ, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. Sister Danielle served as the Congregational Leadership Liaison who worked with the archivists from the four US provinces to create the Carondelet Consolidated Archive in Saint Louis, Missouri. Her presentation will center on the planning and execution of this new archival repository.
Andrew Rea, Province Archivist of the Society of the Divine Word manages the province archives in Techny, IL. Focusing on how an archive can assist leadership, the community, and larger public, Andrew brings a valued contribution to the seminar.
Maggie McGuinness, LaSalle University, is one of the prominent historians focusing on the history of women religious. During her career she has written about many religious communities highlighting their importance in United States history. Maggie’s use and interpretation of archival materials will broaden understanding of the significance of religious community archives. To register for this 75 minute seminar, please click this link to register.
Registration will close on Friday, April 30, 2021. ARCC would like to thank Saint Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX for hosting this event.
The 2021 Journal is now on it’s way to our membership and we are delighted to announce that alongside our publication we are making our first open access article from its contents available to everyone, free of charge; Medieval Manuscripts in Ushaw College Library: a Fragment History by Ben Pohl and Leah Tether can be found here.
For more fascinating insights and to hear about their latest work, you can follow Ben and Leah on twitter; just search for @AbbotsMedieval and @MedievalDigigirl
During this latest lockdown, I have been permitted to come to the seminary to work in the archive. The size of the seminary buildings means that it is easy to work alone, away from others in a Covid secure manner. The sorting and cataloguing of this extensive archive is now essential work, as St. John’s seminary will sadly cease to operate as a house of formation in July 2021. The archive comprises over 250 boxes of records covering all areas of seminary business, from administration to recreation; from academic matters to records of the buildings. The collection dates from the foundation of the seminary in 1889 to the present day. Over the next eighteen months, all of this will be prepared to move to a new home.
Whilst I have been busily working my way through the boxes, the seminarians have been continuing their studies locked down in a ‘house bubble’! A couple of weeks ago, I received an unexpected enquiry from Stephen Corrigan, a seminarian from Clifton diocese in his final year of formation at Wonersh. Stephen had always been aware that he had a relative who was a priest and had been a seminarian at Wonersh, but it had not occurred to him to find out more about his time at the seminary until recently. All he had to go on was that his name was Fr. Gerald Gamble, and that he was his great-great uncle.
“My time at Wonersh has often been busy with my focus on my studies and all the other things we do at Seminary, so there was never much of an opportunity to think about or look into a family connection at the Seminary. But when the seminary appointed an archivist, Jo Halford, it occurred to me that I really should investigate the archives and see what could be discovered about him.
I think at the human level the upcoming closure of the Seminary, and my own departure in July when I will be ordained priest and return to full-time to work in the Diocese of Clifton prompted me to finally ask Jo to look into the matter, and I am sure there was a spiritual dimension encouraging me as well”
Stephen was fascinated to discover that there are registers recording every student who has ever entered the seminary. I was quickly able to find Gerald Gamble in these indexed registers for him. Gerald had entered the seminary on 6th September 1912 and was ordained on 12th July 1925. The register tells us that his studies were interrupted by World War I during which he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Using the dates from the register, I moved on to consult the diaries of the Dean and Rector to see if Gerald featured in them. These revealed that he had been a very sporty member of the Wonersh community. He was a regular member of the football team, and had been the captain of the cricket and hockey teams. This in turn led to the sporting committee minutes and photographs.
Here is the report of a Juniors v. Seniors hockey match played on 16th April 1924, during which ‘Mr Gamble gambly stuck to his post’! The minutes are signed by Gerald and he appears as a proud captain of the team in the adjacent photograph.
Gerald was one of a group of seminarians who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to Salonika in Greece during World War I. News of this group features in the wonderful ‘Wonersh Mail’, ‘An Unofficial Chronicle of all that Wonersh did while her doughty sons were absent from her on military service’. It was sent to the students ‘called up’. It included news from the seminary and of those fighting, and was illustrated with humorous drawings by Fr Alexis Hauber, then procurator, later Parish Priest of Guildford.
Once I had located the sources, I was able to allow Stephen to consult them, after a period of quarantine for the documents and with social distancing observed.
After his time in the archive, Stephen commented:
“It was wonderful to be able to hold the primary sources in my own hands – the very books that these people had written about my great-great-uncle. I was able to see various photos of his sporting endeavours which brought the whole thing to light especially recognising where the photos were taken, and how in some ways how little the place has changed in the last 90 or so years. Sadly, my own career playing for the Wonersh football team has not been so prestigious!”
I am so grateful for the opportunity to investigate the life of my great-great uncle, and to learn more about my own family’s connection with Wonersh. By all accounts he was a good priest and a good man, and in following in his footsteps both at Wonersh, and in the priesthood, I hope and pray I can emulate him.’
Many thanks to Stephen Corrigan for bringing me this interesting enquiry and for his contribution to this piece. Let’s hope that the archive continues to receive many more such enquiries far into the future.
The Association of British Theological and Philosophical Libraries’ one-day online conference will include sessions on risk management; research skills for the Digital Shift; and well-being in libraries.For full details visit:
Margaret Harcourt Williams, FCJ Generalate and British Province archivist, March 2021.
The start of lockdown, March 2020
The archives of the FCJ Society’s Generalate and British Province are kept in Isleworth in west London. I live a long way away and my job is part time and unusual as I am only on site 25% of the time so routine tasks such as environmental monitoring, computer maintenance and checking for any problems in the archive room or in my office are not my responsibility. A sister checks the strongroom temperature and humidity daily, a staff member checks the computer and the cleaner cleans my office. There is a sister to whom I’m responsible and I write her a monthly report. I’m still doing the report in lockdown and also having regular zoom calls.
I followed my normal routine when I left in March last year, which is as follows.
Every month before leaving I load all my files onto a memory stick that I take home with me. I also load all completed catalogues onto a memory stick for the sister who answers genealogical enquiries. My work is backed up to the FCJ server regularly and I back up all I do at home and reload it on my work computer next time I’m in my office. I have very few paper files so before leaving I didn’t have to sort anything to decide what I’d need at home. When I’m at home, I access my work email through Outlook 365.
If there are any other enquiries, especially enquiries for the parts of the archive I haven’t sorted yet, the sister concerned asks me about them. This happens whenever I’m not there (ie most of the time) so lockdown hasn’t made much difference. This sister goes into the archives both for the temperature and humidity checks and for enquiries so would notice if there was anything wrong. Sorting the archives is work in progress and outside use is infrequent so there weren’t any researcher appointments to rearrange.
Working at home
For me, this isn’t new. I’ve never been away for so long before but occasionally I’ve missed a month. I’ve always made sure I have work to do at home; mostly this has been bringing together, adjusting and revising old lists. When lockdown started, I thought I’d have enough work for two or possibly three weeks. In fact, I’m amazed at the amount I’ve been able to do.
Until last March, I was working on the archives of the British Province; these were transferred to Isleworth from Salford in 2017. The Generalate and BP archives are separate collections and in lockdown I’ve been checking all the BP catalogues for duplicates and items that rightly belong in the Generalate archives. When I get back, I’ll start on all the moving, replacing and adjusting that’s come out of this. There is still a lot of this checking to do and apart from finishing work amending the enormous section on houses that I was working on at the start of lockdown, plus some other shorter sections (plays, photographs, newspaper cuttings) most of my plans for the BP archives remain in reserve. I’ve done some of the same in reverse and checked for items in the Generalate archive that should be with the province (now called area) archives.
During the first lockdown I went through all files and emails on the memory stick I brought home last March and on my home computer. This took a long time but was well worth doing. However, I’ll need to look at parts of it again now working from home is lasting longer that anyone could have predicted. Other work has included preparing policies on appraisal, retention, access and closure periods, updating the FCJ archives policy and talking on zoom about my progress. I’m also trying to find information on retention of Cause papers, so far unsuccessfully and also have been sorting remotely the books that came to Isleworth with the archives, plus dealing with anything else that arises as far as I can.
Return after lockdown
I’m not now expecting to go back before the summer but when I do my first priority will be answering any questions that have been left for me and appraise and place any papers that have been set aside for me to consider for the archives. I’ve been warned that there is a very large pile of papers waiting for me. I won’t know until I see it but I hope some of it will be regular accessions and documents I recognise as duplicates. Then my next step will be checking the catalogues I’ve amended with the contents of the boxes they refer to, something I’m expecting to take a long time.
I shall be glad to get back and resume my former routine but despite being unexpected and unplanned, this long period of working remotely has been very productive.
For the past year the Jesuits in Britain Archives team have, for the most part, been working remotely. Most archivists are not used to working from home since processing the collections in our care and making them accessible sit at the core of what we do and requires us to be onsite. However despite the year’s frustrations, many of us will probably be pleasantly surprised at what we have been able to achieve. For us this has been a range of activities that may never have come about without this interruption to normal service.
Many of us will have tasks that we would love to tackle but never find time for in the course of our usual working days. For us this might be checking over volunteer work or creating finding aids. Many of our volunteers and work experience students have contributed to transcribing one of our most treasured holdings: a Jesuit newsletter which began in 1915 called Chaplains’ Weekly. The first 30 or so issues were handwritten, copied, and distributed, but are now terribly faded in parts and, as we possess the only complete run in the Province, we have been transcribing them for preservation and access purposes. Thanks to a recent project to have the newsletters digitised, we were able to check and sign off volunteer transcriptions using the digitised versions from home. Digitisation of other records, such as volumes of bound manuscripts, has meant that we can continue with the often time-consuming task of creating finding aids for them.
One of the real positives to come out of the first lockdown was the instigation of an oral history project, carried out by two Jesuits in formation who spent part of their lockdown at St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre with four older members of the Society. The resulting conversations ranged over 70 years or more of experiences and were similarly wide ranging in themes. The interviewees talked at length about matters from how their days were ordered when they were novices in the 1950s through to profound transformations in Society and the Church and the global pandemic. Again, staff have been able to spend time transcribing these interviews that we may otherwise not have had. Short excerpts of the interviews, which make up ‘Jesuit Memories’, can be listened to on the Jesuits in Britain SoundCloud.
We have also been exploring ways to make the Archives more accessible. In October 2020 we created a Twitter account (@JesuitArchives) where we share announcements, information about what goes on behind the scenes, and showcase our diverse collections in an informal way with the aim of engaging with a wider audience. Lockdown provided the perfect opportunity to familiarise ourselves with Twitter so that hopefully when we return to the office we will be a well-oiled Twitter machine!
Our most exciting endeavour has been to launch an online exhibition. How Bleedeth Burning Love, a collaboration with Stonyhurst College, showcases relics of the English and Welsh Martyrs of the Reformation and tells the stories of the many men and women whose bravery and resourcefulness helped keep the Catholic faith alive in the 16th and 17th centuries. As this is the first online exhibition we have been involved in it was quite a learning curve, but an incredibly exciting one and we hope it will pave the way for many future online exhibitions.
So while the past year has certainly come with its challenges, it has also come with its opportunities and we have learned that there is an incredible amount of work that we can do even without access to our physical collections – though of course we are looking forward to getting back to them in the hopefully not too distant future!