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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.

Papers of Individual Jesuits

Joseph Mosley, SJ Papers

Dates: 1757-1787

Extent: 0.25 cubic feet

Finding aid: Joseph Mosley, SJ Papers

Digital Georgetown: Joseph Mosley, SJ Papers

This collection consists of sixteen manuscript letters written by Joseph Mosley, SJ (1731-1787), an English missionary who built St. Joseph's Church in Tuckahoe (later Cordova, near Easton in Talbot County) on the Maryland Eastern Shore in 1764, to his brother and sister. The letters provide a rich description of settlement of a colonial outpost and particularly the work undertaken by the enslaved people under his management to clear the lands, construct a residence and church, and raise crops. He describes the isolation of working as an itinerant preacher in the sparsely populated Eastern Shore, the suitability of its environment for agriculture, the illnesses contracted by himself and other priests, and his racist judgments of Native Americans and enslaved people. Sacramental records maintained by him and found within the Maryland Province Archives indicate that Mosley included enslaved people in his ministry.


Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers

Dates: 1815-1827

Extent: 0.5 linear feet

Finding aid: Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers

Digital Georgetown: Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers

Between 1805 and 1820, Joseph P. Mobberly (1779-1827) worked as the manager of the plantation of St. Inigoes, with some interruptions to study and teach at Georgetown College; after 1820, he devoted himself exclusively to teaching at Georgetown. The Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers consist of written remembrances, observations, and expositions related to his experiences with agricultural management, including the discipline and punishment of enslaved people. In a memoranda book (dated approximately 1823), Mobberly recalled the attempts of the British to plunder St. Inigoes and the measures that the Jesuits took to protect their human property; detailed the agricultural production of St. Inigoes; and argued that slavery was not profitable for the Jesuits. In another set of volumes, entitled "Treatise on Slavery -- Cham," Mobberly presented a Biblical justification of race, arguing that African peoples descended from Noah's son Cham. Other volumes include other observations on slavery, agricultural production in the area around Georgetown, student life, and spiritual phenomena. 


Papers of John McElroy, S.J.

Dates: 1807-1878

Finding aids: John McElroy, SJ PapersMaryland Province Archives

Digital Georgetown: John McElroy, S.J Papers; Maryland Province Archives

BFCSC holds the diaries, financial journals, pastoral records, and other papers of the the Irish-born John McElroy, SJ (1782-1877), who played a key role in the early years of Georgetown College, the foundation of the novitiate at Frederick, and the establishment of a Jesuit presence in Boston. While he was stationed at Georgetown and Frederick, he ministered to Black people, both enslaved and free. There are several references to slavery in his diary, 1813-1821, including the recapture a runaway Isaac in January 1814 and transactions involving enslaved people. In June 1819, McElroy established a school for Black people to teach reading and writing as well as religious instruction at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. He also maintained a diary of his service as a chaplain during the Mexican War.


Abraham J. Emerick, SJ Papers

Dates: 1863-1932; Bulk: 1904-1917

Extent: 0.5 linear feet

Finding aid: Abraham J. Emerick, SJ Papers

Abraham J. Emerick, SJ (1856-1931) ministered among Black Catholics in Jamaica, Philadelphia, and in Southern Maryland. He worked closely with Mother Katharine Drexel, the founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament who established missions and schools for Native American and Black people. These papers consist mostly of letters from Drexel, with some from other nuns in her order. In 1896, Drexel recruited Emerick to work among the Black parishioners at several Jamaican missions. She also asked him in 1907 to serve as pastor of the Mission of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia, which ministered to a largely Black apostolate. When the Philadelphia Archdiocese transferred this parish to the priests of the Holy Ghost Orders, Emerick began his ministry among the Black Catholics in Ridge, Maryland, where he remained until 1923. The Ridge house records within the Maryland Province Archives include documentation of his work in Southern Maryland.


John LaFarge, SJ Papers

Dates: 1844-2000     Bulk: 1925-1963

Extent: 48.75 linear feet

Finding aid: John LaFarge, SJ Papers

Born into wealthy family based in Newport, Rhode Island, John LaFarge, S.J., (1880-1963) became a leading voice advocating interracial cooperation and social justice in the Catholic Church. This collection consists of typescripts, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, family papers and memorabilia that relate to all aspects of his career. During his 15-year ministry in Southern Maryland, he worked closely with Black congregants of Ridge, particularly the membership of St. Peter Claver Church. As Superior of the Ridge house, he helped found the Cardinal Gibbons Institute, a parochial industrial school for Black boys. As a witness to rural poverty and racism, he became a vocal critic of segregation in the Catholic Church and an advocate for social justice. In 1927, he began his 37-year tenure as an editor of America and helped shape its progressive tone. In 1934, he founded the Catholic Interracial Council of New York and served as a director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference .


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