The Monastère des Augustines today launched a Web portal providing access to its extraordinarily rich archives dating back to the beginnings of New France. The portal is part of one of Québec’s largest heritage preservation projects. Ultimately, it will make available to the public a kilometer of archives and old books as well as 40,000 artifacts from the 12 monastery/hospitals operated by the Augustinian Sisters in Québec. The creation of the Web portal was made possible by a $200,000 donation from Quebecor.
The Web portal makes good on the Sisters’ desire to make the archives accessible to as many people as possible. As of today, anyone anywhere in the world can consult the archives for valuable information about Québec’s social, economic, political, military and religious history. They are a treasure trove of documentation about the history of Québec City and Québec from 1639 to the present day, says Gilles Gingras, chairman of the board of trustees of the Fiducie du patrimoine culturel des Augustines
As a business that is deeply attached to its Québec roots, we have a duty to preserve the memory of all that the Augustinian Sisters accomplished for our society. When we look at their history, we cannot help but be impressed by their courage and humanity. This is a magnificent project that will share their legacy with the public and with future generations
The archives contain a wide variety of documents: association agreements, governing documents, annals of the community, the nuns’ letters, records of admissions into the community, patients’ records, and so forth. They tell the story of a religious community of healing Sisters, the history of medicine and medications, and the local histories of many Québec City neighbourhoods. They also shed new light on the history of Québec art and architecture from New France to the present. The archives contain hundreds of rare and unique specimens classified under the Cultural Heritage Act.
These are very fragile, centuries-old and well-used documents. Their pages are crumbling, already torn in places, marked by the passage of time. Scanning them guarantees their survival and the Web portal makes them available to the general public, says Sara Bélanger, the historian/archivist in charge of the archives.
A total of 32,000 pages of documents from the archives are already on the Web portal. Quebecor’s contribution will also be used to digitize objects from the Monastère des Augustines’ collection and add them to the portal. The site will therefore be enriched by the addition of photos and documentation on the artifacts conserved by the Augustinian Sisters since their arrival in 1639.
Digitization of the archives and the collections is also supported by assistance from the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, Library and Archives Canada, and Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
Preserving the Augustinian Sisters’ heritage
The Fiducie du patrimoine culturel des Augustines, whose main beneficiary is the Québec public, and Le Monastère des Augustines are dedicated to preserving the heritage of the 12 Augustinian Sisters monasteries and handing it down to future generations. The conservation of the archives and collections under optimal conditions and the classification, digitization and dissemination of the historical writings and objects is being conducted under the aegis of the two organizations.