Established in 1975, the mission of Presentation Archives is to centralize, organize, preserve, protect and make available unique records and materials which pertain to the origin, history, spirit, and growth of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PBVM) and its members.
The archival collections reflect the institutional history of the Sisters of the Presentation and their various individual ministries since the time of their foundation in San Francisco, California in 1854 up to present day. The unique historical materials reflect the sisters’ viewpoint of participation in these ministries and that of their relationship to those served through these ministries.
Collections spanning the years since 1854 document the sisters’ lives and their ministries in California, New Mexico, and Washington; and on sisters’ ministries in response to Vatican II, including mission work in Mexico and Guatemala, and their involvement in social justice issues. Administrative records include minutes of general councils, chapter assemblies and various committees, including national and international groups. Additional collections include artifacts such as objects from convent life; photographs; scrapbooks; and Audio/Visual materials.
Early historical materials dating from the mid-late 19th century to 1906 are sparse because of the devastation caused by the earthquake and fire disaster that year when the sisters lost both of their San Francisco convents. Among the surviving records are the constitutions, Rules and Customs of the Presentation Sisters beginning from 1809; and financial and property records between 1860 and 1875. Chronicles and annals from this era include the memoir of Mother Teresa Comerford published in 1882; first-person accounts of the 1906 earthquake and fire, and the sisters’ relief work conducted in the aftermath; a published history based on reconstituted annals by Mother Mary Josephine Hagarty, 1854-1906; a sister’s historical account of the events and descriptions of life at Sacred Heart Presentation Convent (1868-1906); correspondence on the issue of school ownership with Archbishop Patrick William Riordan (1906); and letter books containing copy-correspondence on the official matters with Archbishop Sadoc Alemany, O.P. (1855-1882).
Contemporary historical records document the changes that occurred in community life and ministry during and after the changes brought on by Vatican II. Examples of the activity include the sisters’ process of Renewal in 1965; their establishment of missions in Latin America in the 1960s; individual ministries started in the 1970s in response to the poor and marginalized; and their involvement in the Sanctuary Movement in San Francisco during the 1980s.
Areas of Research
- Catholic Women Religious
- San Francisco
- American Catholicism
- Special Topics
- Social Justice
- Sanctuary Movement
- Religious Formation
- Religious Life
- 19th century student registers for schools in Berkeley, Sonoma, and Gilroy
- Photographs and first-person accounts of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire experience and aftermath, including relief works
- Administration and Governance records, including Minutes of General Councils, Chapters, and various committees (1855 – present)
- Annals (1854 – 2010): San Francisco foundation, individual convents, ministries and members
- Architectural drawings and blueprints (1855, bulk 1910 – 1930)
- Books of Religious Profession and Postulancy Ledgers (1854 – present)
- Chronicle of Ministry Assignments and Directories (1949 – present)
- Living, deceased, and former members’ files (incl. 1854 – present)
- Manuscripts and theses
- Rules and Directions on religious and community life (1870s – 1970s)
- Missions in Latin America (1965 – 2018)
- Oral Histories (1970s – present)
- Photographs (1880s – present)
Rachel Foote, MLIS
2340 Turk Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94118-4340
Archivist can be be reached via email only Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Fridays from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
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Presentation Archives makes every effort to provide access to its collections while observing institutional policies regarding copyright, records retention policies, and privacy and confidentiality. Contact the archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our research and access policies and use the following form to submit your research request today! Preferred citation: Presentation Archives, San Francisco (PASF).