The Sisters of Mercy in Newfoundland : their contribution to business education

January 1, 1981

Abstract of Masters Thesis by Augusta Bonita Ford, Memorial University of Newfoundland

The purpose of this study was to trace the work of the sisters of Mercy in Newfoundland in the field of business education. The Sisters began their work in the late 1800’s, when they first introduced business education courses into the curriculum of their convent schools. Their work continued until the mid-1900’s, when they began phasing out the formal business education programs which they had developed over the years in their schools. Their activities in this area constitute an important and lasting contribution to the field of business education. There has been no previous in-depth scholarly investigation into this aspect of the Sisters’ work. Therefore, a study of the Sisters’ contribution to this field is long overdue.

The first part of this study provides historical background of the Sisters of Mercy, the establishment of the early convent schools in Newfoundland, and the introduction of business education subjects into the curriculum of these schools. — The second part of the study deals with the opening of Commercial Departments at several of the Sisters’ schools and colleges around the Island, the development of comprehensive business education programs in these departments, and the introduction and development of business education programs at convent schools where Commercial Departments were not established.

The Sisters of Mercy in Newfoundland started their business training at a time when business education was in its infancy and when the field of employment for women. The foresight, energy, and determination of the early Sisters won the respect of educators and business people across Newfoundland. An, the outstanding achievements of so many of their students won for the institutions they represented a recognized place not only in the educational and business circles of the Island but also in international business education competitions. — In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, many schools and colleges in Newfoundland began closing down their Commercial Departments or phasing out their business education classes. The convent schools and colleges operated by the Sisters of Mercy were among this group. New educational institutions such as Holy Heart of Mary Regional High School for girls and The College of Trades and Technology in St. John’s, along with the District Vocational Schools across the Island, now took up the task of preparing the youth of Newfoundland for the world of business.

By the time the Sisters were ready to concede the responsibility for business training to the new institutions, they had already helped to raise business education from a small cluster of basic skills courses to a highly sophisticated field of learning for young men and women. In addition, the Sisters had trained for the business communities of the Island thousands of qualified typists, stenographers, and bookkeepers. In so doing, they had given well over half a century of dedicated service to the field of business education in Newfoundland.

Read the thesis here