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Ursuline Sisters of Maine papers

Identifier: CSC-015

Scope and Contents

Many of the documents contain handwritten notes by Sister Martha Helen Thibodeau, O.S.U., who assembled the collection. They include her identifications of individuals, further details of events described in the documents, and explanations of materials included in the collection and their significance.

The first series includes documents related to the Ursulines of Maine. It includes photographs, mass programs, and the personal papers of Thibodeau. The folders of "prayer and mass materials" include essays, prayers, hymns, and guides for reflection. The folder of "miscellaneous" papers includes various papers related to Ursulines in Maine, including a St. John's School alumni directory, a national gathering program, vocation brochures, correspondence, and other papers.

The second series includes documents related to the general history of the Ursuline order, including historical narratives of the order, with an especial focus on the story of Esther Wheelwright, the eighteenth century Puritan who was taken captive by Native Americans as a child, was rescued by a French Jesuit, converted to Catholicism and then joined the Ursuline order. There are also publications and ephemera related to the Ursulines de Trois-Rivieres (Three Rivers) in Quebec, including their tercentennial celebration, and various materials relating to other Ursulines around the world.


  • Creation: 1937-2010
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1978 - 2010


Language of Materials

Collection is in English and French.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open and available to the public for research in the U.S. Catholic Special Collections reading room. The materials are non-circulating.

Copyright Notice

The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner or his or her heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.

History of the Ursuline Sisters of Maine

The Ursuline order was founded by Angela Merici in Brescia, Italy in 1535. The first Ursulines arrived in North America in 1639, settling in French Canada as the Ursuline Sisters of Three Rivers. In 1888, a group of six sisters from this convent travelled to Waterville, Maine at the behest of the Reverend Narcisse Charland, whose parishioners-mostly French Canadian immigrants-needed schools for their children. The Ursulines in Maine requested independence from the Three Rivers in 1891, in order to be allowed to take in English-speaking postulants. The Ursulines ran seventeen different parochial schools in New England between 1888 and the present, educating thousands of students. Mount Merici Convent and Academy in Waterville, Maine was established in 1912, and became the home of the community for the years to follow. The Ursuline Sisters of Maine joined the Ursulines of the Roman Union in 1939.

Today, Mount Merici School is the only remaining Ursuline school in Maine. The Ursuline Sisters in Maine now fall under the jurisdiction of the Northeast Province, based out of Dedham, Massachusetts. The Ursuline Sisters Care Center for ill and aging sisters is located at the former Mount Merici motherhouse.

Sister Martha Helen Thibodeau is the Ursuline sister who assembled these documents. She grew up in Sanford, Maine, before joining the Ursulines. She taught and was the subprimary at St. John's School in Brunswick, Maine. She was known as Mother Helena at that time, and changed her name after Vatican II to Sister Martha Helen. She currently resides at the Mount Merici Ursuline Sisters Care Center in Waterville, Maine.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)


Collected papers by and about the Ursuline Sisters of Maine, the history of the Ursuline order, and local parishes in the Waterville, Maine area.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection arrived in multiple accessions with no discernable order. Materials were arranged in series based on their subject, with separate series for the Mount Merici sisters, the general Ursuline population, and Maine religious life.


U.S. Catholic Special Collections, 302 Roesch Library

Acquisition Information

Donated to the U.S. Catholic Special Collection by Sister Martha Helen Thibodeau, O.S.U. in multiple accessions.


Guide to the Ursuline Sisters of Maine papers, 1937-2010, bulk 1978-2010
Colleen Mahoney
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University Libraries Repository

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