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Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation at Lauinger Library

This guide highlights the primary source documents at Lauinger Library that supports the goals of Georgetown University's Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative.

Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus

Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus

Dates:  1630-1985

Extent: 142.75 lin. ft.

Finding aids: Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus

The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus originated in 1633 as a small mission to minister primarily among English and Irish Catholic gentry who colonized Maryland to secure freedom of worship and ownership of property without civil restraint. Like other Jesuit missions, the Maryland community financed its operations by establishing large plantations that produced a staple crop for export and exploited the labor of enslaved men, women, and children. At the site of each of these plantations, they also established a house that served as a residence for Jesuit missionaries, the site of a church, and the center of the broader Catholic community. 

Commonly referred to as the Maryland Province Archives (MPA), this collection holds the administrative and financial records of the Province that document the acquisition of real estate, the settlement of tobacco plantations, ownership of enslaved people, the lease arrangements with tenant farmers and sharecroppers, profits and losses, and the distribution of earnings to Jesuit institutions, including Georgetown College. These records also document controversies over slavery within the Society, most notably over potential slave sales including the twenty-year long debate that ultimately led to the 1838 decision that led to the sale of 314 people to pay off the debts of Georgetown College and finance the Province's expansion.

Although not comprehensive, the house records include sacramental records that document the participation of enslaved people, free Black people, and freed people who were formerly enslaved. The house diaries maintained by the priests at each residence describe organizational efforts, including the formation of schools, sodalities and beneficial societies among Black people that were typically racially segregated after emancipation.

Listed below are some of the most significant documents related to the Province's involvement with slavery and its racist legacy. These documents are arranged roughly in chronological order, by historical period. They are linked to their description in the published finding aid.

Colonial British America

Early National and Antebellum Periods

Reconstruction and Jim Crow

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