2015 is a special year for the Australian Province as it is 140 years since the foundation and 100 years since the death of founder, Mother Gonzaga Barry.
To celebrate, Archives is presenting a new exhibition in our display gallery – ‘The Message and the Messenger – Loreto Communicates’. We have taken this them to explore the use of letter writing, publication, art and music, photography and religious practice by the early Sisters to communicate charism and mission.
We hope to get some visitors when Ballarat hosts the past pupil Federation conference in April.
I was first hired as a student to process our records that had come from Loretto Academy, Niagara falls after the closing of the convent. I spent many hours working with those documents and making sense of boxes and boxes of information. To my delight, we came across a lovely photo of the Academy late last year. It was particularly of interest as it was taken at a fairly early date and also featured a number of students and Sisters on the steps of the original part of the building. The photo was so beautiful that I drew it to Sr. Juliana’s attention and we opened it up in a photo program, zooming in on various features. Here is the photo:
Loretto Academy, Niagara Falls (1899 – 1910)
We started to look specifically at the building, “zooming” in on all the various features and discussing the additions and improvements that had been made to the edifice over time. That’s when we noticed —–
To our surprise and amusement there was a man perched high above the mass posing for the photo below. He looks quite comfortable, nestled beside the dormer windows with a broom in his hand! Presumably he was cleaning the eaves – and perhaps simultaneously trying to sneak himself into the photo.
Continuing with our previous conversation we decided to pull up one of our earliest photos of the original part of the Academy. We are quite familiar with this “iconic” image which has been used numerous times in answering reference requests and displays. You can see it here:
Loretto Academy, Niagara Falls – Original Building
Did You Notice It?
In the bottom left corner, there is also a man – previously unnoticed!
The lesson we learned that day: sometimes you can feel that you are very familiar with an item. Stepping back and looking at it with “new eyes” (in this case instigated by our “zooming” in to look at architectural details) can yield new-found treasures. In the future we hope to have our photographic collection fully described with multiple tags. That will help in identifying the wealth of information on varying subjects held in our collection.