Archives Services of the
Congrégation de Notre-Dame

By Denys Chouinard, Archivist
Coordinator of Archives Services (2008 - 2013)


Sœur-Florence-Bertrand Archives Collection

Beyond their traditional functions, namely document acquisitions, processing, conservation and distribution, the Archives Services remain relevant only if they actively participate in the life of their institution. The heritage they hold must continue to inspire the fulfillment of the Mission. Since their creation in 1877, this has been the mandate of the Archives Services of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame (CND).

From generation to generation, the archivists of the CND have always provided tools to access the past, whether distant or recent. An eloquent example of this is certainly the eleven vol­ume series entitled Histoire de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal, result of the tire­less work of Sister Sainte-Henriette (Marie-Darie-Aurélie Lemire-Marsolais) (1839-1917) and Sister Thérèse Lambert (1903-1996).

Today, the mandate of the Archives Services is essentially the same. Approved by the General Council of the Congregation in 2008, it reads:

Accessible to the Sisters of the Congregation and to the Public

Thanks to continuous technological development, information is much more easily managed and communicated. Certainly, the best example of this is the virtual exposition entitled Faith in Action. 350 Years of Education by Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congrégation de Notre-Dame ( launched in June 2011.


Produced with the valuable contribution of Sister Patricia Simpson, historian, and the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum team, this internet site is accessible to everyone. It retraces the history of the CND through some 800 archival records.


Integrated into the community’s daily life

At the Mother House, where the offices and the main collections of the Archives Services are located, archival records are constantly integrated into the community’s daily life. Presented on a regular basis in a display case just outside the Archives Services, are expositions (about twenty per year) which underscore events, anniversaries, feasts, etc. For Sisters who do not have the opportunity to visit the Mother House, these expositions can be viewed on the Congregation’s intranet site under Archives à la Une !

Always at the Mother House, the Archives Services are pres­ent for such special events as the World Day of Prayer, Golden Jubilees and Christmas celebrations.

On a daily basis, they constantly guide researchers whose work sometimes results in publications on the history of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame.

The most remarkable achievement in 2013 is undoubtedly the book, La féministe en robe noire. Mère Sainte-Anne-​Marie by journalist Claude Gravel.


Similarly, the section Écoles CND Schools makes it possible to retrace the history of hundreds of CND schools in Quebec, Canada and in the United States. To date, some 75 records have been put online on the Congregation intranet site and are progressively added to the virtual exposition, Faith in Action, accessible to all on the web.


St.Willibrord Academy, Verdun

The Archives Services update various research tools, such as, the Fichier des religieuses de la CND, or summaries of the 7,234 women who, in over 350 years, have joined the ranks of the Congregation and have followed Marguerite Bourgeoys. It is noteworthy to mention the other types of collections, such as, the rich library of old and contemporary books, the arts col­lec­tion containing artistic works created by the Sisters, and the school archives.

“Journeying” Archives

Definitely, the work that requires the most effort currently is the transfer of all the de­scrip­tions of documents produced since 1877 to a database known as Siècles de Visitation. The result will be the creation of a web-based platform which will permit the Congregation and the general public to access and consult descriptions of archives and certain digitized doc­u­ments from a remote location.


The Archives Services Team of the CND, 2012

In this way, the Archives Services of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame remain a place of dy­nam­ic exchange, rather than melancholy, between the past and the present. Consequently, the archivists continue to play their –essential – role as those who pass on memory!


What are
the Sisters of
the Congrégation
de Notre-Dame
doing in 2023?