Digital Collection Spotlight #40: Labrador

Posted May 31, 2023 in Digital Access

Digital Collection Spotlight #40: Labrador

As part of an ongoing series of posts, we’re highlighting different collections and items from the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem. Check out our earlier posts in this series here.

These maps show three communities in Labrador and are examples of one of the largest and most notable collections we have digitized in recent years, the Labrador Mission Stations collection. This comprises material concerning the work of Moravian missionaries amongst the Inuit in the Labrador region of Canada between 1764 and 1944. They were digitized as part of the “Uncommon Bonds: Labrador Inuit and Moravian Missionaries” project, a partnership between the Nunatsiavut Government,  Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Memorial University Libraries, and National Heritage Digitization Strategy which was supported by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

The first Moravian mission station in Labrador was Nain, founded in 1771 with the support of the British government, who claimed the region at the time, and an Inuk woman named Mikak. Over the succeeding years, seven more mission stations were founded, Okak (1776), Hopedale (1782), Hebron (1830), Zoar (1865), Makkovik (1896), and Killinek (1904), while Moravian congregations also started in other communities such as Happy Valley – Goose Bay. While several of these communities are no longer occupied, Nain, Hopedale and Makkovik remain important communities in the region, with Nain and Hopedale being the administrative and legislative centers of the Nunatsiavut government respectively.

Map of Hopedale, 1929 | MissLabr 58696, Moravian Archives Bethlehem

Map of Hebron, undated | MissLabr 58689, Moravian Archives Bethlehem

The maps shown here show Nain in 1834, Hopedale in 1929, and an undated view of Hebron. The last Moravian missionary in Labrador left in 2005 but Moravian congregations remain very active.

The Labrador Mission Station collection includes a wide range of resources valuable for the study of Labrador and Moravian activities there, including correspondence between the mission stations and between them and Europe, records of goods shipped to and from Europe, as well as diaries and yearly reports that shed light on daily life in the communities.

_ _ _ _ _

Top image: Map of Nain, 1834 | MissLabr 58688, Moravian Archives Bethlehem

Further Reading:

  • Rivet, France “Moravian Missions in Labrador” The Canadian Encyclopedia. 7 February 2006. Accessed 5/10/2023  Available Here
  • “Welcome to Uncommon Bonds” Uncommon Bonds. Accessed 5/10/2023 Available Here