Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to encourage historical research on the educational work of Catholic Sisters in Australia which includes the Sisters’ perspectives. Design/methodology/approach – Reflecting on the experiences of research projects which sought Sisters’ perspectives on their lives and work – from archival, oral and narrative sources – the authors discuss challenges, limitations and ethical considerations. The projects on which the paper is based include: a contextual history of a girls’ school; a narrative history of Sisters in remote areas; an exploration of Sisters’ social welfare work in the nineteenth century, and a history of one section of a teaching order from Ireland. Findings – After discussing difficulties and constraints in accessing convent archives, issues in working with archival documents and undertaking a narrative history through interviews the authors suggest strategies for research which includes the Sisters’ voices. Originality/value – No one has written about the processes of researching the role of Catholic Sisters in Australian education. Whilst Sisters have been significant providers of schooling since the late nineteenth century there is a paucity of research on the topic. Even rarer is research which seeks the Sisters’ voices on their work. As membership of Catholic women’s religious orders is diminishing in Australia there is an urgent need to explore and analyse their endeavours. The paper will assist researchers to do so.
History of Education Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2015
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