The Archivist’s Nook: Young Catholic Messenger – “Seek, and Ye Shall Find”

Young Catholic Messenger, v. XI, n. 2, January 15, 1895. Ratisbon Cathedral. Special Collections, Catholic University

Catholic University of America’s Special Collections is home to wide and diverse cultural and historical materials, including devotional museum objects, meeting minutes of the American bishops, correspondence between notables such as George Higgins and Richard Neuhaus, rare renaissance books, and, among all of this, the Young Catholic Messenger, the premier publication, 1885-1970, of Catholic publisher, George Pflaum, of Dayton, Ohio. The Young Catholic Messenger, or YCM as we call it, is a staff favorite and subject of previous blog posts in 2017 and 2020. We return to it again as we recently obtained a missing volume, number 11, 1895, via a kind donation from the University of Dayton.

Young Catholic Messenger, v. XI, n. 4, February 15, 1895, honoring George Washington’s birthday. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The Young Catholic Messenger Collection at Catholic U. is complete from volumes 40 through 85 with an online finding aid. It has also been digitized and can be accessed via individual volume listing in the finding aid or by going directly to the online digital collection. Unfortunately, even with the acquisition of volume 11, we are still missing 34 of the first 39, 1885-1923. Therefore, we are making a renewed effort and reaching out to all sources in the hope that someone is willing to sell, donate, or loan missing copies to us. In particular, if academic institutions holding copies we are missing here at Catholic can work with us we hope to find a way to digitize their copies while sharing access, and are willing to consider reasonable compensation.

Returning to 1895, which in America witnessed the first professional football game and granted the first patent for an automobile (1), we include three pictures in this post from twenty four (2) YCM issues published during the calendar year. As in other years, the themes of this volume include a blend of saintly tales, historical places, and animal related stories to thrill and instruct young Catholic readers. Each issue is relatively short in length, about 8-10 pages and well-illustrated with black and white prints. A major focus, given the strong presence of German immigrants in Ohio and the Midwest, is on German Catholicism and the main event of this publishing year was an English translation by the mysterious ‘Uncle John’ in fourteen parts of a novel, titled in English ‘Nightingale,’ by a German priest, Franz von Seeburg, about village life and piety in Bavaria. Apparently, this work has never been published in English anywhere other than The Young Catholic Messenger.

Young Catholic Messenger, v. XI, n. 9, May 1, 1895. The first part of ‘Nightingale,’ by Franz von Seeburg. Special Collections, Catholic University

This volume was recently digitized and joined its mates online. We sincerely hope to add other years soon. If you have any of the missing volumes (3), or have other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at Now, we bid you Auf Wiedersehen with a quote from page one of volume 1 of the 1895 YCM:


Young Catholic Messenger, v. XI, n. 24/25, Christmas 1895. Special Collections, Catholic University

“We hear and heed him, as firm and true, we start on the upward path anew.”


(1) This same year also saw the first visit to his mother’s homeland by a young British army officer, Winston Churchill, enroute to Cuba to observe Spanish military operations.

(2) Issue 24 was listed as 24/25.

(3) We can provide a detailed list of needed volumes upon request.

(4) Special Thanks to Shane MacDonald, Hannah Kaufman, and Shanyun Zhang.

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