More than any Jesuit province within the United States, the Maryland Province ministered to Black Catholics. This pastorate was the legacy of slavery and colonization. By the mid-eighteenth century, Jesuit missionaries supported their activities with income derived from six tobacco plantations in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore that exploited enslaved laborers. The Jesuits saw no contradiction in evangelizing among the enslaved people throughout the region. Despite their ill treatment and the separation of family members due to the slave trade, particularly the 1838 sale, Black people maintained their faith and spiritual practices in the Catholic Church. Records held by Georgetown University richly document all aspects of this history from the beginning of the Maryland Mission in 1633 until the Civil Rights Movement.
Described below are the holdings held by Special Collections that relate to slavery and its legacy of racial discrimination in the Catholic Church. They include the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus; the Archives of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown; papers of prominent Jesuits; and the Woodstock College Archives, part of the Woodstock Theological College Library. Together, these collections document the ongoing activities of Jesuits among Black peoples in Maryland, particularly the descendants of those enslaved by them and their Catholic neighbors.