The central archive of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God is housed at St Mary's Convent, Brentford.
The collections consist of historical records and artefacts, in a variety of formats, mainly dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.
For further information please contact the Archivist Paul Shaw.
Visits to the archive are by appointment with the Archivist.
Name of Archive Repository:
Central Congregational Archive of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God
Name of Parent Organization:
Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God
St. Mary's Convent, 10 The Butts, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 8BQ
Phone: 020 8568 7305
Enquiries to: Mr. Paul Shaw, Archivist
The order was founded by Frances Margaret Taylor (1832-1900), a Roman Catholic convert from Anglicanism who had served as a nurse in the Crimean War, and whose account of her experiences was published as Eastern Hospitals and English Nurses (1856). Frances Taylor had established a considerable reputation as a journalist and author, being the founder editor of the Catholic periodical The Month (1864-5). One of her most notable works was Irish Homes and Irish Hearts (1867) an account of Irish religious orders and charitable institutions. As Mother Magdalen of the Sacred Heart she was to be the first superior of the order, officially founded in London in 1872, which by the turn of the century administered over 20 houses and institutions, including the Providence Free Hospital, St. Helens. Great assistance was given to the order in its early years by the support of distinguished clerical and lay Catholics, including Cardinal H. E. Manning (1808-1892), and the novelist and philanthropist Lady Georgiana Fullerton (1812-1885). The order was focused upon work in England and Ireland, but also had houses in Italy and France; more recently it has extended its charitable work to the USA, Africa and South America. Houses were acquired in Roehampton in 1876 and 1927, and the Generalate continues to be based there.
The standard accounts of the life of the founder and the early years of the congregation are given in the following:
The primary function of the 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) produced by the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
Include papers of Frances Taylor 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 Lady Georgiana Fullerton and her husband Mr A. G. Fullerton; records of the various works and institutions administered by the congregation, including hospitals, workhouses, refuges and care homes in Britain, Ireland and continental Europe.
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. Postal/phone/e-mail enquiries relating to the history of the organisation and its works are answered by the archive service. Most enquiries need to be submitted in writing, by letter or e-mail. Lengthy research needs to be carried out in person or via an agent.
Enquiries which may involve the release of potentially sensitive or confidential material relating to individuals, particularly where the information may come under the remit of Data Protection legislation, will always need to be submitted in writing by letter, and an enquirer may be required to supply documentary evidence confirming their identity.
The congregational archives have been established and maintained as a cultural and informational resource for the congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, its employees and associates, and access to the collections by external enquirers cannot be presumed. However, the congregation has consistently encouraged and supported academic, genealogical and other enquiry and research into its archives and history, subject to state legislation and the requirement to safeguard the confidentiality and reputation of individuals, as required by canon law and the legislation of individual nation states.
The archivist is happy to answer general enquires on the history of the order and its founder, and to refer students and other enquirers to relevant secondary source materials. Talks and presentations to groups can also be given on request.
Those considering a request for access to the archives should see:
Rules For Researchers (28 KB)
Services to Internal Users:
Circular From The Archivist (29 KB)
Services to Internal Users (18 KB)
Most of the above can be obtained by a donation and contribution to cover postage.