Tuesday 21 November 2017

Merciful Trove

Searching Trove for the religious

Where is that elusive nun, brother or priest? In preparation for a series of posts on the relatives who entered Catholic religious life, I’ve been trawling through Trove once more.
Name searches sometimes come up trumps but without dates to narrow the field, some more creative searches are  needed to find the required information.

Two female relatives entered the religious order of the Sisters of Mercy, Western Australia in the beginning of the last century but I was uncertain of dates of their commitment to religious life. Many religious orders have archives and some may hold the information sought, but some creative searching in Trove often yields results. Once I had some key dates from a helpful archivist, I set to work searching to see if I could any find further details. When I had located my two candidates, I thought it may be useful for others to have access to a list of those who had joined this order of nuns.

To make such a list in Trove, I decided to concentrate on finding  the women of the order rather than information about their convents or the work they undertook. Background information and the history of this order in Australia is available from the archives of the  Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

To become a member of the order the young women usually joined a convent novitiate as postulants. The next step in the membership was the formal reception into the order where the young lady dressed as a bride and was presented to the church as a suitable candidate, a bride of Christ.

After committing herself to the service of God, she was given a religious name, as well as a nun’s habit and veil. In the case of the Mercy order of nuns, this was a white veil. Two or more years later when the Mother Superior adjudged her suitability, the final profession of vows was made and the black veil donned. A professed Sister obtained the title Mother through a variety of circumstances usually those of position, responsibility and expertise.

Key words, terminology to use when searching for female religious

novice, novitiate, postulant, reception, profession, vows, convent, religion, sister mary [name], mother mary [name], and the name of the religious order.

A wide variety of combinations of the above terms yield results. Results also vary according to styles of reporting over time.

The two most successful advanced searches : Mercy convent reception, profession vows Mercy,  LIMIT articles, to exclude all advertising LIMIT Western Australia, to focus on this particular branch of members.
Once names had been located and identified, I was then able to search using
sister mary [name] OR mother mary [name] OR sister m [name] OR mother m [name] to find extensive obituaries and in some cases death or funeral notices.
Another effective search I used for death and funeral notices: Digitised newspapers - Advanced Search - The phrase - Convent of Mercy - Limit - Western Australia - Limit - Family Notices.

To complete the task I had set myself, I then checked the burial records by surname and year at the  Metropolitan Cemeteries Board of Western Australia.

Here are the results of my searches in the form of a chronological list on Trove about the Sisters of Mercy – Western Australia from 1846 - 1954.

Novices, profession ceremonies and jubilee celebrations of the Sisters of Mercy in Western Australia. This list deals with women's personal details, the ceremonies that celebrated their entrance into the order, their profession of vows, some appointments and celebrations of jubilees in their religious lives. Death and funeral notices as well as obituaries are included. Brief notes detailing given and religious names where available have been extracted and included in the comments.

1913 'The Woman of the Hour in Western Australia! And Her Life's Work of 60 Years !', The W.A. Record (Perth, WA : 1888 - 1922), 27 September, p. 3. , viewed 21 Nov 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article212627100

If you have "lost" a Catholic female relative in your family history, this may be one way to find her. To search this list from a computer use CTRL-F (Win) or CMD-F (Mac) and on a mobile device use Find in Page from the browser's menu.

UPDATE - Additional lists of religious on Trove

This list pertains to the nuns of the Dominican order - Cabra and Franklin Street and associated convents. It lists receptions into the order, professions, some death and funeral notices and obituaries. The same notices may appear in more than one paper, so a selection for each event has been made. 

Additional personal details taken from SA, BMD indices and from http://religiousorders.gravesecrets.net/cabra-dominican-nuns.html have been added in brackets [ ]. 

This list pertains to the nuns of the Dominican order - Molesworth Street, North Adelaide and associated convents. It lists receptions into the order, professions, some death and funeral notices and obituaries. 

Additional personal details taken from SA, BMD indices and from http://religiousorders.gravesecrets.net/dominican-sisters-of-north-adelaide.html have been added in brackets [ ]. 

This post first appeared on https://librarycurrants.blogspot.com/2017/11/merciful-trove.htm

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