St Joseph's Native School and Orphanage, New Norcia dates from 1861.
Tilbrook (1983) reports that sisters 'Elizabeth and Helen (or Ellen) Tainan arrived at St Joseph's Orphanage for Girls in 1865, four years after it opened. They were looked after by the first schoolmistress at the orphanage, Mrs Judith Butler.' (see page189, with photograph).
Children were sometimes placed by their parents in St Joseph's New Norcia, though bureaucracy could delay good intentions as this example shows:
'Widower Charlie Fitzgerald found he was unable to look after his family and at the same time tend to his [Chinese vegetable] gardens. Wishing to do what was best for them, he made an arrangement with New Norcia mission for some of the girls to be sent there, where they would be cared for and receive an education. The girls were placed on the train, and were to be met at the station and driven to New Norcia by their uncle. On the same day that they were travelling, a number of children were being sent to Moore River Settlement on the train. When they arrived at the railway station, the girls' uncle was late. The station master assumed that they were really meant to be going to Moore River Settlement and so bundled them off with the other children. When their uncle arrived, he found no nieces and thought that their step-father had changed his mind at the last moment. It was one month before the error was finally sorted out, and the girls reached their intended destination, New Norcia Mission. (Tilbrook, p.137)'
By 1847, the government had a policy of placing the children of single Aboriginal mothers at New Norcia mission:
'Mary Helen or Ellen Pangieran was born in Bunbury in 1847. Because her mother had been deserted by Mary's European father, the government authorities considered that she was unable to bring up her daughter on her own. As a consequence, Mary was sent to New Norcia Mission to receive an education. Mary grew up at New Norcia, where she met Benedict Cooper or Cuper. The couple were married and had a small family. In 1873 the telegraph line from Perth to Geraldton was completed as far as New Norcia, and Mary Cooper was appointed as the first telegraphist and post-mistress. She ran the small post office, and tended to her house which was built adjoining the office, until her early death from tuberculosis in 1877. (Tilbrook, p.177). '
In his 1899 Report (p.12), the Protector of Aborigines said that the girls' school had 30 pupils who were taught by 'women of colour, under the superintendence of one of the Brothers'.
From 1904, St Joseph's was run by the Benedictine Missionary Sisters who had come from Spain for that purpose.
In 1909, the buildings were replaced.
The Benedictine Missionary Sisters ran St Joseph's until it closed in 1974.
There may be records for children placed by the Department of Native Affairs, the Department of Native Welfare or the departments responsible for child welfare. The Department for Child Protection and Family Support's Aboriginal Index may also hold information.
The New Norcia Archives may have records and will have historical information.
The State Records Office of Western Australia also has records, including items that name residents and administration items.
The Department for Aboriginal Affairs in Western Australia may also hold records or other information.
Students who were resident at St Joseph's after 1969 may have been Commonwealth Secondary Grant recipients. The National Archives of Australia may hold records relating to people who received these grants.
Access to records is restricted to protect the privacy of individuals. You are very welcome to enquire.
New Norcia Archives is a collection of records, photographs and memorabilia relating to the activities of the Benedictine monks in Western Australia. There is information about: Drysdale River Mission; Kalumburu; St Joseph's School for Aboriginal Girls and St Mary's Mission, New Norcia; and Subiaco Boys' Orphanage.
New Norcia and Benedictine Community records:
Benedictine Community of New Norcia
Great Northern Highway, New Norcia WA 6509
Phone: (08) 9654 8018
The State Records Office (SRO) holds the State archives collection. The state archives collection includes records that might be of interest to people who were in out of home care as children. These records can be found throughout the collection because many government agencies were involved. The Find and Connect web resource will identify as many of these records as possible.
State Records Office of Western Australia:
Alexander Library Building, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth WA 6000
Phone: (08) 9427 3600
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs [predecessors], Records is a collection of records relating to Aboriginal family history in Western Australia. The collection includes records held in the State Records Office; copies of the Norman Tindale and Joseph Birdsell genealogies, photographs, journals and data; copies of the Elkin genealogies for the Kimberley region; and the Jan Goodacre Collection of genealogy, photographs and historical records.
Aboriginal History Research Unit, Department of Aboriginal Affairs:
PO Box 3153 East Perth WA 6892
Phone: 1300 651 077
Fax: (08) 6551 8008
The collection held by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support (DCPFS) dates from 1894. It includes records from the Government Receiving Depot, the State Children's Department, the Child Welfare Department and more recent departments which have been known at different times as the Department for Child Protection, Community Development, Community Welfare, Community Services, and Family and Children's Services. The records relate to children who were placed in all types of out of home 'care' in Western Australia. Some of the records held by the DCPFS were originally created by another government department or private agency.
Contact Freedom of Information, Department for Child Protection and Family Support:
PO Box 6334, East Perth WA 6892
Telephone: (08) 6217 6388 or (08) 6217 6381
Facsimile: (08) 9222 2776
Free call in WA: 1800 000 277
10 December 2013
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00566
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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