Students in the science lab conducting an experiment using a Dreschel bottle, a method for washing or drying gases, Fourth floor, Academy Building (now destroyed). early 1960s.
The mission of the School Archives is to collect, preserve, and make available the primary and secondary source materials that relate to the history and spiritual heritage of Georgetown Visitation. Furthermore, it seeks to promote and support the study and understanding of the important and complex history of Georgetown Visitation.
A pillar of the St. Jane de Chantal Salesian Center, the archival collection of documents, photographs, art, and artifacts preserves and celebrates the treasures of our school’s history and the Sisters of the Visitation’s Salesian charism. In tandem with Monastery Archives holdings, this collection bears witness to over 220 years of Catholic education for young women in Washington, DC.
The study of the past serves as a lesson on understanding the present and future. The Archives:
- Actively collects and preserves documents, photographs, and many kinds of unique items relating to Georgetown Visitation throughout its history;
- Collaborates and engages with students, faculty, staff, Sisters, alumnae, and the public;
- Provides exhibits and displays within the school to showcase its history;
- Provides resources and ideas for curriculum development that not only connect students to the school’s legacy, but also teach vital research and critical thinking skills;
- Responds to and assists in research requests from students, faculty, staff, alumnae, researchers, and the public; and
- Recognizes and promotes the totality of GV history and provides avenues for reflection and understanding that promotes the human dignity of all people past and present.
We promote the School Archives as a relevant and vital resource for the intellectual and spiritual formation of all members of the Visitation community. As an academic institution, we maintain that the study of the past serves as a lesson on understanding the present and future. The objects gathered over the course of a school’s life tell a story of people, places, and times. Learning Visitation’s story—which is really layers of stories—expands our knowledge, strengthens our community, and deepens our faith.
archives: school & monastery
when Visitation was founded
acres of history
buildings on national register
Watercolor and ink on paper with applied gold metallic paper. This hand-painted card was awarded to Ann T. Williamson, a boarding student from Baltimore who distinguished herself in music. She may even have received this from President John Quincy Adams, who presided at the 1828 graduation and distributed prizes.
These weighty tomes are invaluable documents that list money received by the school over the years, providing evidence of student names. Also noted are expenses for such things as coal, oil, soap, and candles. Other expenditures included expenses for maintaining the farm, such as cow manure and wages for farm hands. Also noteworthy is the column for teacher salaries, which is almost always blank because most of the teachers were nuns.
Mary Aloisia Purcell, Sampler, 1809, embroidered silk on linen
Receipt for tuition for the school’s first semester, 1800. This receipt identifies the original school name, “George Town Ladies Academy.” It is signed by Maria Sharpe (aka Sr. Mary Agnes Sharpe), one of the first three “Pious Ladies” and the first directress of the school. It also specifies a cost of 88 dollars for 6 months’ tuition and board costs. Following a relative value for measuring this commodity, $88 would be about $1,710 today.