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RG 06: Personnel: Carmelite Monastery of Baltimore (PER)

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 06-GAMMS.5

Scope and Contents

From the time that the nuns began their monastery life in Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland, they scrupulously kept both personal and legal records. In a vows book which they subsequently recopied after their move to Aisquith Street, they recorded each profession according to prescribed, yet changing, formula, thereby providing statistical information relative to family and geographical background, age at time of profession, and dowry contributed. Each entry, moreover, was signed by the Sister being professed and the official witnesses to the profession. At the death of each Sister, furthermore, some member of Carmel faithfully related the biography of the deceased in a second book, recording especially the more hidden, but precious, details of spiritual life and disposition at the time of death. Painstakingly such details were set down; anything that indicated a sister's close relationship to God and community was particularly noted. To this day, these two books remain extremely useful resources for the Carmelites themselves and for those anxious to study Carmelite history and spirituality.

Because of their attempt to describe and define the first and last stages of the religious life of each of the members of Baltimore Carmel, these records also help to provide a broad demographic view of Maryland Catholic society. For example, they reveal much about family and geographical interrelationships and how these played a role in the development of the Carmel community. Thus, the naming of the parents and birthplace of each nun helps the researcher to discover kinship ties by tracing genealogies. Not only were four of the five founders related to one another, for example, but one also discovers that the pattern of nieces or cousins entering Carmel continued well into the new century. Thus, in 1831, when the community moved to Baltimore, at least five of the nuns were cousins. Three, Agnes Boarman, Austin Bradford, and Ignatia Boarman even professed vows the same year (1799). Furthermore, two other first cousins entered Carmel the same day (Ambrosia Jameson and Stannislaus Smith). Besides having been baptized and receiving the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist on the same day, they also took vows on the same day in 1819 and even celebrated their Golden Jubilees together.

The fact that the names of the parents are provided also helps researchers to adduce other information about family members, including the number of Carmel members whose siblings joined different religious communities or important professions, such as law or medicine. Thus, one can determine that the first Sister to take vows at Port Tobacco, Elizabeth Carbery, had a brother who became a Jesuit.

Of interest as well is the fact that almost 60% of those who were professed during the years 1790-1900 were natives of only one state (Maryland); of the rest, 13% were immigrants (6 were from Ireland, 5 from Germany, and one from Ottawa) while almost all the rest came from two states, New York and Pennsylvania.

Details of family income are also made somewhat discernible because of the listing of dowries.

Other series comprise interesting data kept by the sisters including a variety of lists compiled over the years either by legal authorities or the Sisters themselves. Together with the genealogies developed by several of the early families of the Sisters, or other interested persons, these tell much about the close relationship that existed not only among members but between members of Carmel and prominent Maryland families. Because the vow of poverty required the renouncing of all personal goods, the wills, inheritances, transfers, and personal legal papers, all signed by the members, are not only part of the vital records of the Sisters but offer insight into the social and economic status of Maryland Catholic families.

Whatever personal papers have been accumulated by each of the members, including authored works and correspondence form the additional series of the personnel records of Baltimore Carmel.

Arranged according to type of record.

Dates

  • 1790-1990
  • Majority of material found in 1790-1990

Extent

4 linear feet

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into series:
  1. Series 1, Series 1: Profession Books, Baltimore Carmel
  2. Series 2, Series 2: Death Book
  3. Series 3, Series 3: Vita, Obituaries, Baltimore Carmel
  4. Series 4, Series 4: Genealogies
  5. Series 5, Series 5: Last Wills and Testaments
  6. Series 6, Series 6: Papers of Members
  7. Series 7, Series 7: Photos of Members

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Carmelite Monastery of Baltimore Repository

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