Newly Digitised Collection – ‘Loreto 1916’


(image from UCD Digital Library, ‘Loreto 1916’)

The Irish Province Archives are delighted to announce the launch of a newly digitised collection – ‘Loreto 1916’, in UCD Digital Library and in a world first,  a Google Arts & Culture Exhibit, ‘Loreto the Green, and 1916’.

‘Loreto 1916’ offers a new and fresh insight into a seminal event in Irish history: the Easter Rising 1916, and features excerpts from digitised community annals from Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham, Loreto College St Stephen’s Green, and some unique photographs from the collection of M. Michael Corcoran IBVM, 4th Superior General (1846 – 1927). These photographs offer previously unseen glimpses into community life with some beautifully informal moments captured.


(Image from Google Art & Culture Exhibit – ‘Loreto the Green, 1916’)

The project was made possible through funding provided by the Irish Research Council, digitisation was completed by UCD Digital Library, and the project was directed by Professor Deirdre Raftery, UCD School of Education.

These exhibitions allows a wide new audience the opportunity to explore religious life and boarding school life 100 years ago, and captures the fear, bewilderment, anxiety and resourcefulness of these women and children unwittingly caught in the midst of an armed rebellion.

Isolated in St Stephen’s Green, with no access to communication, faced with extreme food shortages & threatened by stray bullets, these remarkable and intrepid women struggled to maintain a sense of normality for the boarding pupils who remained in their care.

Read about the Sister in St Stephen’s Green who awoke to a bullet crashing through the window of her cell, but decided that the nightly vow of silence held greater precedence and so did not alert the rest of the community! She spent the remainder of the night, sitting in her cell, praying…..hoping that a second bullet wouldn’t arrive in the same window!

Read about the workers on the farm in Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham who downed tools and left to join the rebellion, the Sisters who watched the city burn and kept a night-time vigil to offer food and shelter to the retreating Rebels.

The professionally digitised images have been already been well used by pupils from several Loreto Schools and have featured in a physical exhibition – ‘The Catholic Church & 1916: Ministry Advocacy and Compassion’ in Dublin’s pro-cathedral.


We hope you enjoy it!

UCD Digital Library –

Google Art & Culture Exhibit –


Saving our Social Media

I thought that I’d share a little of the research that I have done lately in preserving web pages and social media pages, such as Facebook and Twitter.
I might be a little behind with this, so forgive me if you have already looked at this issue. And if you have any better ideas, I would love to have them!

More and more our communications and demonstration of support of the mission statement are tied up with these media so we should at least be preserving a snapshot of the sites to represent the IBVM’s presence on the web and the message and responses that are being communicated – even the one that I am using now. This, surely, is an important part of the corporate memory, particularly if the website contains the only copy of an important record or is evidence of corporate activity. Much has been written about the preservation of web sources, of course, but I was after an easy, cheap solution that I could implement without much IT support.

First thing is deciding what to preserve and as a snapshot is one way to preserve these ever changing media, then how often should this be taken? They are only worth saving if they are providing unique resources. I would like to be able to take an annual snapshot of our website and at least the Facebook page as an example of the public interface of the organisation.

A few ways of preservation, although not perfect, would seem to be useful. The first is simply capturing the pages as PDF. This at least preserves the content and style of the pages, although not the functionality, of course. It is also rather time consuming as you have to go into each page and sub page to capture.

Another easy way is to rely on the Internet Archives ( also known as the ‘Wayback Machine’ which is a not for profit enterprise which gathers and preserves websites with web crawlers. This is rather random but if you subscribe, you can submit a website for inclusion. The functionality of the website is largely maintained although links are broken. There is the issue with this in that we do not hold custody of the legacy websites and there is no guarantee that the funding of this project will be permanent.

Another possibility are state library programs – such as the National Library of Australia’s PANDORA website preservation, or the British Library’s UK Web Archives. These are selective but it may be possible to nominate a website for inclusion.

There is also the option of contracting out the capture and preservation. There are various companies which specialise in this and I have investigated a couple.
Ken Archiving Platform or will archive web sites and social media sites for a fee. They will archive sites as frequently as needed.
Another commercial provider is PageFreezer which provides the same sort of service.
The advantage of this option is that it is professionally done to standards which captures the appropriate metadata for preservation.

So, that is the extent of the solutions that I have found so far but, as I said, any help would be gratefully received!

Robin Scott
Province Archives, IBVM Australian Province

Preservation in Archives

I went to a professional development day on conservation and thought that I could share some of the pointers. This is often something we have little time to think about, but I think the main thing is that is all comes down to common sense and does not have to cost too much for a little preservation. However, as we were reminded, nothing last forever! I found it particularly useful to have the correct terminology to describe issues.
These are my notes, so forgive their casual nature, but they might be useful.
10 Agents of Deterioration
1. Physical Forces
Shock, vibration, abrasion, gravity

2. Theft & Vandalism
Due to social and political issues.

3. Disassociation – lost items, or loss of provenance.

4. Fire
Heat, burn, smoke residue

5. Water
Particularly damaging to organic materials. Objects may swell. Paper becomes cockled, glue dissolves, pigments come out, tide lines, mould. There are mould spores in the air all the time and mould damage is one of the most difficult problems for conservators as staining is very hard to remove and spores always ready to reactivate. Also, water soluble dirt can have acidic by-products. Water causes metal to corrode which means that the metal or the elements in the metal are dissolving.

6. Pollutants/Contaminants
Sulphur and nitrogen compounds are in the air – more due to fossil fuels. Combined with water, this makes sulphuric acid (i.e. acid rain). Also chemical pollutants in furnishings and carpet – formaldehyde which can off gas and cause corrosion.
Need for air exchange so off gasses do not build up. i.e. display cabinets should not be air tight.
Wool and metal should not be stored together as the sulphur in the wool makes the metal corrode.
Contaminants can be liquid, gas or solids. e.g dust combines with moisture and attracts mould, salt on metals, tape – disfiguring stains, iron staining from nails or pins.

7. Pests
Good housekeeping – removal of food sources for rats and mice.
Carpet beetles, clothes moths – feed on keratin (hair, nails – wool)
Wood boring insects – larvae – like damp.
Mould – also a pest as alive. Needs food (i.e. dust), moisture (Relative Humidity of above 65% & oxygen).
Need suitable methods to remove dust – vacuum rather than wiping.

8. Light
UV – breaks down chemical bonds in pigment – makes some lighter and some darker.
Chemical degradation – weakening and brittle.
UV light – beyond the blue. Short wavelength so most damaging – can get inside object.

9. Incorrect Temperature
Not one temperature for all objects
Plastics – best at room temp.
Organic materials – suffer from expansion and contraction.
Quick changes in the range causes damage. If slow, the materials can expand and contract with little damage.
Passive methods of temp. control – buffering system – shelving, boxes.
Temperature and humidity interplay.

10. Humidity
Relative humidity – if this is too low organic objects become brittle.
Too high – metals corrosion. Salt effervescence – allows moisture to migrate through the object – weakens structure.
They recommended that we do a risk assessment of the collection to establish any problem areas and develop integrated pest management which involved use of natural rather than chemical controls, regular monitoring and recording and the quarantining of infested or new material coming into the Archives. They suggested isolating objects in plastic bags and also preventative freezing to kill any pests.
Altogether a most interesting session. I hope this is interesting to you too!


Mary Ward’s week celebrated in Mauritius (23rd January – 30th January 2016)

“ Show yourself at all time glad and joyful for almighty God loves a cheerful giver.” Mary Ward

Mary Ward’s week was greeted and marked with great enthusiasm in all the Loreto schools in Mauritius.
The value of JOY was chosen for this year. In all our Loreto schools and development Centers (7 secondary schools, 2 primary and 2 development Centers) Mary Ward’s week has started with a special morning assembly for all the students and staff : There was a thanksgiving prayer for our foundress Mary Ward with a joyful song, the message of Sr. Christine, the provincial was read and well valued.
A special poster on Joy with a few photos of students from one of our Loreto College Port Louis taken on the occasion of 170th anniversary of the presence of Loreto Sisters in Mauritius was launched in each school.
Activities have been prepared for all the students of different grades (quiz on Mary Ward’s life, games ‘Jeu de mots’, representing Mary Ward’s values on a poster with reflection and sharing. For the newcomers a power point on Mary Ward’s life was presented. During this week the students were motivated to get involved in these activities and to know more on Mary Ward’s life. Even the Province library ‘Médiathèque Mary Ward’ was well visited by the students and teachers who were looking for materials on Mary Ward’s life.
Schools who organized a Eucharist celebration for the beginning of the year have taken JOY as their theme and Mary Ward who has been faithful and joyful to serve the Lord has been well emphasized.
We’ll continue to reflect on the value of JOY during the whole year 2016.


Sr Thérèse YAW

Illuminated Delights

PaulineDunne_DecorativeChart                              RaphaelDeasy_DecorativeChart

During a New Year’s clean up of the Archives strong room, we came across a series of these beautiful, decorative charts produced for each Mother General from Teresa Ball to Pauline Dunne. They had been so safely stored that we’d almost forgotten about them! They’ve now been listed and will soon be rehoused in more suitable containers. They were a beautiful surprise ‘rediscovery’ on a grey January morning!

Happy New Year fellow Archivists!

Áine, Dublin.



Galloping Girls

BannerWe decided the 2016 exhibition theme for the Australian Province’s Archives Centre would be travel and journeys.  So I have attempted to take Loreto’s journey from Mary Ward to current Australian Province missions in Vietnam and East Timor etc.

Starting with a hopscotch game on the floor we follow floor decals to different stops along the way – Mary Ward, Teresa Ball, Gonzaga Barry, Australian schools, current missions emerging from the call for ‘Courage to Move’.

Hopscotch 2

The hopscotch idea came from Francesca Salva, a teacher in the Loreto school in Mauritius and Sr. Clotilde ibvm.  Sr. Denise Desmarchelier, who had recently been to Mauritius told me about the idea and I thought it would be perfect for our theme of travel.  Ours is a more historical journey theme but Mauritius made a vibrantly coloured and illustrated representation of the Mary Ward story fitting into a hopscotch grid.

Science equipment

Pioneers drawers 2

Gonzaga's desk

The exhibition was great fun to set up and, hopefully, will be useful in telling Loreto’s story.