Friday, April 8, 2011
Preliminary Historical Notes on DSQHR Site: 20th Century Horizon
DSQHR Lenten procession of girl students. The convent supported approximately 3000 children, mostly orphans and Native American, according to data dated 1913.
Establishment of Convent
The Dominican Sisters of the Queen of the Holy Rosary (hereafter DSQHR) is a Third Order Regular of St. Dominic operating in the United States. This particular order of religious was first established in New York in 1853 as the Holy Cross Convent of Brooklyn, New York. The founding sisters were four Bavarian nuns from the Holy Cross Convent located in Ratisbonn, then the Grand Duchy of Bavaria. The Ratisbonn convent itself was founded in 1233 CE.
The California chapter of the Dominican Sisters of the Queen of the Holy Rosary was in turn initiated by three nuns of German descent: Maria Pia Backes, Maria Amanda Bednartz and Maria Salesia Fichtner. In 1876, these three Catholic nuns were dispatched from from Holy Cross Convent, New York , to establish a school for German immigrants in the small parish of St. Boniface in San Francisco, California.
With the success of this primary mission, a separation from the Motherhouse in Brooklyn, New York, was affected resulting in the establishment of the first Motherhouse of the new Congregation of the Queen of the Holy Rosary in California. This first Motherhouse was located at Immaculate Conception Priory on Guerrero Street in San Francisco. After the devastating earthquake of 1906, the General Chapter approved the transfer of the Motherhouse to Mission San Jose.
DSQHR Lenten procession of orphans circa 1904.
Institutional Demographics circa 1913:
193 sisters, 20 novices, 16 postulates, 1 academy, 1 orphan asylum, 9 schools, 2926 pupils.
Early 20th century Site Use
The property, consisting of twenty-nine acres and the building that had been St. Thomas Seminary for the Archdiocese of San Francisco (situated at Mission San Jose) was purchased by Mother Pia in 1891 from the Archdiocese with the intent of establishing, in the parlance of the period, an Indian School.
Establishment of Orphanage and Normal School
In the years immediately after the DSQHR move to San Jose, the organization concentrated on the growth of Catholic education. DSQHR established orphanages at Mission San Jose, Anaheim, and Ukiah, and undertook to provide teachers as well as domestic help for the orphanage at St. Vincent's School, San Rafael. The resident academy at DSQHR San Jose was often a forerunner to later schools. Teaching also extended to parish catechetical work as well as catechesis on the Native American reservations, and in the prisons of San Quentin.
During the incumbency of Mother Pia as Prioress General of DSQHR, the order assumed the staffing of twenty-five schools in California and Oregon as well as seven schools in Mexico. To assure solid preparation of the sisters as teachers, a normal school was established at Mission San Jose in 1908.
DSQHR sister with view of some orchard property in background. Note surface soil turbation (circa 1906)
Preliminary Notes on Potential DSQHR Orchard 20th Century Artifact Assemblages
At the beginning of the second decade of the 20th century CE, the DSQHR convent complex supported a population in excess of 3000 individuals, the vast majority of which were children. Many of these children were from economically and ethnically marginalized groups, i.e., the working poor, orphans, and California Native American tribal groups.
Station of the Cross: note architectural feature in background.
DSQHR sisters engaged in contemplation, walking, and devotional reading of brevaries. This is a good example of religious site use and note the possible orchard in background (circa 1906).
The collection of photographs supporting these notes suggest that the orchard was juxtaposed to formal gardens immediately adjacent the convent building. The garden contained a processional path. The path and garden served a theurgic purpose within the convent’s Roman Catholic context. The path proximate to the orchard, based on photographic evidence, contained Lenten Stations of the Cross. This layout of sacred space was designed to aid in spiritual contemplation and meditation.
The DSQHR Orchard Site may be expected to yield artifacts related to children fitting the demographic profile outlined above. The site may also yield artifacts related to processional activities, the agricultural maintenance of the orchard, and perhaps the casual or incidental use of the landscape for recreational activities by small groups of children, or larger supervised groups of children.
The C.C. Pierce Collection
This collection of roughly 16,000 principally black-and-white photographs contains the work of several photographers as well as the collections which, in some cases, they themselves formed. Some of the prominent local photographers associated with this collection are C.C. Pierce, George Wharton James, and Charles Puck. Subjects include Los Angeles and environs, California Missions, Southwestern Indians, and turn-of-the-century Nevada, Arizona, and California. Though the images date from 1860 to 1960, the major strength lies in 1890-1930 vintage Southland views.
The C.C. Pierce Collection is distinctive for its thorough coverage of city and street views and for the many images of Los Angeles architecture. C.C. Pierce, active from 1886 to 1940, was one of the leading photographers of his day. He was also a collector of photographs of Los Angeles and actively bought older photographs of the city. The George Wharton James Southwestern Native American Portraits collection was one of C.C. Pierce's purchases, acquired by him in 1902. It contains 2,000-3,000 negatives of Indians of the Southwest, along with images documenting the southwestern frontier in general.
Charles B. Herbermann, et al. eds., The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIV, Simony-Tournely: New York, 1913) p. 640.
Hoffmann’s Catholic Directory and Clergy List Quarterly (Hoffmann Bros. Catholic Publishers, Milwakee & Chicago, 1886) p. 112