The Archivist’s Nook: Morris J. MacGregor – Historian of Racial Justice

Morris J. MacGregor (1931–2018), who died three years ago this month, was a native Washingtonian and an alumnus of The Catholic University of America. Over his lifetime he served both his country and his church; as a dedicated and fearless historian, he documented the tangled record of both the United States Army and the Roman Catholic Church on the tortured subject of race relations. I was acquainted with him first and foremost in my capacity as an archivist who provided him access to primary source materials for his research and writing. But he was also a friend who mentored me in my own historical writings and who gave me very sage advice at a crucial time on how best to face my wife’s terminal cancer prognosis.
Morris MacGregor. The Cardinal Yearbook, 1953. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

MacGregor was born on October 11, 1931 in Washington, D.C. to Morris J. MacGregor, Sr. (1903–1979), a paper salesman, and Lauretta Cleary MacGregor, a homemaker. He grew up in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, and attended the now defunct Catholic boy’s school at Mackin, the old St. Paul’s Academy, in Northwest Washington.  He earned his bachelor’s in 1953 and his master’s in 1955, both in History, from Catholic University, and also studied at Johns Hopkins University, 1955–1959, and the University of Paris on a Fulbright Scholarship, 1960–1961. He was an affiliate of the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., 1959–1960. He then served as an historian of the Historical Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, 1960–1966, then as Acting Chief Historian of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1966–1991.

Integration of Armed Forces 1981 by Morris J. MacGregor. Courtesy of Amazon.com.

One of his books, The Integration of the Armed Services, 1940–1965 (1981), received a commendation from then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberg and is still considered an authoritative account of this sensitive subject. In it, MacGregor addresses how the military moved from reluctant inclusion of a few African Americans to their routine acceptance in a racially integrated establishment. This process was, he argues, part of the larger response to the civil rights movement that challenged racial injustices deeply embedded in American society. MacGregor’s book also explores the practical dimensions of integration, showing how the equal treatment of all personnel served the need for military efficiency. His other military studies include two edited works with Bernard Nalty—the 13-volume Blacks in the Armed Forces (1977) and Blacks in the Military: Essential Documents (1981)—as well as Soldier Statemen of the Constitution (1987), co-authored with Robert K. Wright, and The United States Army in World War II: Reader’s Guide (1992), co-authored with Richard D. Adamczyk.

The Emergence of a Black Catholic Community, the second of three CUA Press books written by Morris J. MacGregor. Courtesy of Amazon.com

A practicing Catholic, MacGregor authored several books on American Catholic History, including The History of the John Carroll Society, 1951–2001 (2001), published by the John Carroll Society in Washington, D.C., and three published by Catholic University Press. The first was A Parish for the Federal City: St. Patrick’s in Washington, 1794–1994 (1994).  St. Patrick’s is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Washington, D.C., witnessing the city’s evolution from a struggling community into a world capital.  As Washington’s mother church, MacGregor argues it transcended the usual responsibilities of an American parish; its diverse congregation has been pivotal in shaping both national policies and the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.  The second was The Emergence of a Black Catholic Community: St. Augustine’s in Washington (1999), which presented in detail the history of race relations in church and state since the founding of the Federal City. MacGregor relates St. Augustine’s from its beginning as a modest chapel and school to its development as one of the city’s most active churches. Its congregation has included many of the intellectual and social elite of African American society as well as poor immigrant newcomers contending with urban life.  The third was Steadfast in the Faith: The Life of Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle (2006), an account of the churchman responsible for the racial integration of D.C. Catholic Schools as well as a driving force in Catholic Charities.

A Catholics in the Civil War themed issue of Potomac Catholic Heritage, Fall 2006. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

MacGregor was a member for many years of the Catholic Historical Society of Washington, D.C., serving as co-editor and contributor, along with friend and fellow Catholic University alum Rev. Paul Liston, of the Society’s quarterly glossy magazine, Potomac Catholic Heritage (previously the Society’s Newsletter), 2005–2015. Issues of the publication are archived in the Special Collections at Catholic University along with many records that were central to MacGregor’s research on the American Catholic Church, especially in relation to African Americans (see our research guide on African American History Resources).

The Archivist’s Nook: Catherine Ann Cline – An Historian for All Seasons

Catherine Cline with CUA President, William J. Byron, S.J. ca. 1990. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

March is Women’s History Month, so why not celebrate a pioneering woman who was an historian: Catherine Ann Cline, distinguished scholar of Great Britain in the twentieth century and former chair of the History Department at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  She was especially interested in the rise of the British Labour Party and the roots of the British appeasement of Fascism in the wake of the controversial Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War. Cline was also a gifted teacher of erudition who mentored many students as well as being a lover of the arts. Her archival papers are among those of many notable History department faculty along with those from other disciplines at Catholic University housed in Special Collections.

Cline’s framed clipping of the so called ‘Lost Battalion’ in which her father served in the First World War. This is the name given to the nine companies of the 77th Division, about 550 men, isolated by German forces after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Nearly 200 were rescued but the remainder were killed, captured, or missing. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline was born on July 27, 1927 in West Springfield, Massachusetts, to Daniel E. Cline and Agnes Howard. She earned a B.A. from Smith College in 1948, an M.A. from Columbia University in 1950, and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College, where she worked with Felix Gilbert. She taught at a number of universities between 1953 and 1968: Smith College, St. Mary’s College of Indiana, and Notre Dame College of Staten Island. In 1968, Cline became an associate professor of history at Catholic University and rose to full Professor in 1974. She served as Chair of the History Department from 1973 to 1976 and again from 1979 to 1982. Noted for her integrity, and in recognition of her long service to Catholic U she was awarded the Papal Benemerenti Medal on April 10, 1995, Catholic U’s Founders Day. She continued teaching at CUA until her death in 2006 after a long illness.

Book cover of Catherine Cline’s 1963 book exploring the rise of the British Labour Party. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline was an expert in modern British history, especially the early twentieth century and the rise of the Labour Party. She was the author of the book Recruits to Labour: The British Labour Party, 1914-1931 (1963). It was an innovative prosopography of nearly seventy political converts in the era of the First World War who reshaped Labour’s domestic and foreign policy in the postwar environment.  Cline’s second book, E. D. Morel, 1873–1924, The Strategies of Protest (1981), is an authoritative political biography of an outspoken reformer who demanded democratic control over British diplomacy. He was jailed during the war by the British government for his anti-war activism.[1] Morel is also notable for defeating Winston Churchill in the 1922 Parliamentary election, taking Churchill’s Scottish seat in Dundee and effectively knocking Churchill out of the Liberal Party. Churchill only found has way back into Parliament later as a Conservative.

Cover of Catherine Cline’s 1981 biography of Labour reformer E. D. Morel. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline’s third area of research, published in articles in The Journal of Modern History and Albion and presented in papers at scholarly conferences, examined British public opinion and the Treaty of Versailles. Seeking the roots of British appeasement, she uncovered ways that British elites promoted a negative view of the peace treaty and their impact on interwar diplomacy. She also wrote numerous articles and book reviews for the American Historical Review, Catholic Historical Review, and Church History. Additionally, she was a research fellow of the American Philosophical Society and a member of the Faculty Seminar on African History at Columbia University as well as a member of the American Historical Association, the American Catholic Historical Association, and the Conference Group on British Studies. She served on several prize committees of these organizations.[2]

Her former colleague and distinguished professor of British history in his own right, Dr. Lawrence Poos, described Cline as:

“Cathy Cline was instrumental in my being hired as a faculty member in the History Department, and what I remember of my first impression of her is what remained throughout her career here and after her retirement: personally and professionally she was gracious, in an old school sense (and I mean that as a most sincere compliment).  Even when she was strongly opposed to something, she would find the right occasion to make her opinions clear in the proper setting.  She was also famous for the New Year’s breakfast (really, brunch) she hosted in her apartment each year, in homage (so we always understood) to the famous salon-style breakfasts and conversations of Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone.”[3]

In conclusion, while I only met her briefly a few times on campus, I was most impressed by her first published work, before she emerged as a scholar of modern Britain, which was an excellent 1952 article [4] on the coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania, a subject near and dear to my heart. It always struck me that the gain to British labour history was a loss to American labor history!

[1] Carole Fink, February 1, 2006. American Historical Association web site- https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/february-2006/in-memoriam-catherine-ann-cline

[2] Ibid.

[3] Poos to Shepherd, email, March 3, 2020.

[4] Cline, Catherine Ann. ‘Priest in the Coal Fields, The Story of Father Curran,’ Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Vol. 63, No. 2 (June 1952), pp. 67-84.

The Archivist’s Nook: Celebrating Christmas with The Young Catholic Messenger

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, 1891, with poem ‘The Babe of Bethlehem,’ by Eleanor C. Donnelly and engraving by O. Weimar. Special Collections, Catholic University.

A few years back our blog featured covers for New Year’s editions from the digital version of our Young Catholic Messenger collection. It was a premier title from Catholic publisher, George Pflaum, located in Dayton, Ohio, between the years 1885 to 1970.  In the nineteenth century, Protestant Americans were not very welcoming to the millions of newly arriving Catholics. By the 1880s, these immigrants created a network of parish and parochial schools which taught their own religion and culture. Catholic schooling naturally necessitated having a Catholic educational publishing system. Pflaum, being a pioneer publisher in this field, produced the Young Catholic Messenger, the Junior Catholic Messenger, Our Little Messenger, and, following later the Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact comic book, from 1946 to 1970.

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, 1909, with poem ‘Happy Christmas,’ by A. F. Klinkner and painting by William Dobson. Special Collections, Catholic University.

In celebration of Christmas, please see highlights and select examples of YCM Christmas covers culled from several key decades during its existence. The first, created in 1891, featured both a poem and an engraving. Philadelphian author, Eleanor C. Donnelly (1838-1917), was a well-known Catholic writer of her time and created the poem ‘The Babe of Bethlehem.’ Known as ‘The Poet of the Pure Soul,’ she was quite prolific, having over thirty books and pamphlets, and hundreds of poems to her name. She also edited a magazine called Our Lady of Good Counsel, as well as The Catholic Standard and Times, the weekly Philadelphia diocesan newspaper. A collection of her works is held by Villanova University. The engraving, by O. Weimar, depicts sleeping children exhausted from playing with their presents while protected by angels.

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, December 20, 1935, with poem ‘The Carol of a Star,’ by Alice P. Clark. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The second cover, published in 1909, is in much the same vein as that of the one nearly twenty years earlier, consisting of both a poem and a painting. This poem, titled ‘Happy Christmas’ is relatively unknown. The painting is a work created by William Dobson (1817-1898), the English painter known for his religious scenes. Not only was he associated with the Royal Academy and the Royal Watercolour Society,  he also spent time on artistic pursuits in Germany, France, and Italy. The third cover, created in 1935, presents ‘The Carol of a Star,’ by Alice C. Clark, and is illustrated with a ring of various related scenes from the first Christmas, while the fourth and final cover, dated from 1965, reflects the turmoil that existed during the 1960s. The theme pertains to the Biblical question that asks if there is room at the end for weary travelers. This contemporary rendition connects the cover art with a short story about the plight of refugees arriving from totalitarian communist regimes like Cuba and Vietnam.

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, December 17, 1965, ‘Will There be Room at the Inn?’ Special Collections, Catholic University.

Special Collections at Catholic University is currently seeking The Young Catholic Messenger volumes 1-6, 1885-1890; volumes 8-24, 1892-1908; volumes 26-28, 1910-1912; and volumes 32-40, 1915-1925. We would be pleased to receive either individual issues or full volumes as a donation, loans for scanning, or links to copies that were scanned elsewhere. We would be happy to discuss fees required. For more information, please contact us via email at lib-archives@cua.edu. For additional Christmas blog posts, please see ‘A Merry Treasure Chest Christmas to All,’ ‘A Very Merry Christmas from Fathers Hartke and Magner,’ and ‘The American Christmas Songbook’ series by Thad Garrett. Best wishes for a COVID free Christmas and 2021! As always, a personal note of thanks to TSKS.

 

The Archivist’s Nook: New Acquisitions in Rare Books

Stacks in Rare Books, Mullen Library, May 2019, Taken by W. J Shepherd. Special Collections, Catholic University.

Rare Books was formally added to Special Collections in May 2019, joining the University Archives, Museum, and Manuscripts, also known as the American Catholic History Research Collection. New acquisitions have been a challenge while operating in a climate of budget and staff limits even before the onset of the COVID Crisis. However, we are pleased to report on four recent notable arrivals. Purchasing rare books, including pamphlets, is not a matter to be taken lightly. Several factors have to be accounted for, such as the reputation of the seller, price and provenance of the item, as well as whether the item has already been digitized or is available in print copies from other libraries. While the Rare Books collection at Catholic University is strong in many subject areas, we are looking to expand our Anti-Catholic literature, the Catholic Apologetics defending the Faith, and acquire more Spanish and indigenous language items from both North and South America.

A Sermon Preached in the Church of St. Augustine, in Philadelphia, on the 31st of May, 1829, at A Solemn, Religious Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the Emancipation of The Catholics of Great Britain and Ireland.’ By the Rev. John Hughes. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The first of the aforementioned acquisitions is a sermon pamphlet obtained in October 2019 from David Lesser of Fine Antiquarian Books in Woodbridge, Connecticut. Titled ‘A Sermon Preached in the Church of St. Augustine, in Philadelphia, on the 31st of May, 1829, at A Solemn, Religious Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the Emancipation of The Catholics of Great Britain and Ireland.’ By the Rev. John Hughes. Spanning 28 pages, it is in good condition and only lightly foxed. Born in Ireland, John Joseph Hughes became the fourth Bishop and first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, serving from 1842 to 1864. He was known as ‘Dagger John’, both for his following of the Catholic practice wherein a bishop precedes his signature with a cross, as well as for his aggressive personality. At the time of this sermon, he was the pastor of a church located in Philadelphia. He dedicated his sermon to Daniel O’Connel, who was known as ‘The Liberator,’ due to his tireless lobbying for Catholic Emancipation in both Ireland and Great Britain.  Philadelphia had been a center of anti-immigrant political unrest. Hughes’s address to this largely Irish-American congregation reminded them of the oppression that was historically directed towards Roman Catholics, and celebrated the British Parliament’s recent granting of fuller civil rights towards Catholics.

Catecismo y declaracion de la Doctrina Cristiana en lengua Otomi, con un vocabulario del mismo idioma. Megico: impreso en la oficina de ciudadano by Joaquin Lopez Yepes in 1826. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The second new addition was a book purchased in February 2020 from Rulon-Miller Books of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Written by Joaquin Lopez Yepes and published by Alejandro Valdes in 1826 in Mexico, it is a Catechism and Dictionary (Catecismo y declaracion de la Doctrina Cristiana en lengua Otomi, con un vocabulario del mismo idioma. Megico: impreso en la oficina de ciudadano) in both Spanish and the indigenous language of Otomi. This first edition has 254 pages, with a dictionary spanning pages 93-251. It is comprised of red morocco backed marbled boards, and has a smooth gilt spine that is laid out in six compartments. Otomi differs in structure from other languages spoken in Mexico, as it strongly resembles the languages of Eastern Asia. Luis de Neve y Molina was the first to establish a system of characters in 1767, which has been retained. Otomi is a monosyllabic language, which is still spoken today by nearly two million inhabitants of central Mexico. The author was a native Mexican and a religious brother of the Franciscan College at Pachuca. Many consider his vocabulary to be the most complete ever published in this language.

A Relation of the Bloody Massacre in Ireland; Acted by the Instigation of the Jesuits, Priests, and Friars, who were Promoters of those Horrible Murders, Prodigeous Cruelties, Barbarous Villanies, and Inhuman Practices Executed by the Irish Papists upon the English Protestants: With an Account of the Spanish Inquistition. London: Rowland Reynolds, 1689. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The third recent arrival is a pamphlet from Paul Dowling of Liber Antiquus, Early Books & Manuscripts, located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It was purchased in May 2020 and is titled A Relation of the Bloody Massacre in Ireland; Acted by the Instigation of the Jesuits, Priests, and Friars, who were Promoters of those Horrible Murders, Prodigeous Cruelties, Barbarous Villanies, and Inhuman Practices Executed by the Irish Papists upon the English Protestants: With an Account of the Spanish Inquistition. London: Rowland Reynolds, 1689. This first edition is bound in recent quarter calf and marbled boards and has a spine label. There are four known copies in the United States, residing in the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Newberry Library, and at Yale and Harvard universities. The first leaf is soiled with marginal repairs and is illustrated with five woodcuts, two show images of mayhem and three depict torture scenes as practiced by the Spanish Inquisition. The first part was apparently issued as a news report in 1641 while the second part on the Inquisition is original. In this sensational account, the Irish are alleged to have tortured Protestants by drowning thousands and compelling family members to kill their own kin: “Wives were forced to hang their own husbands, and mothers to cast their own children into the waters.” This book was published in response to the tumult in Ireland that followed the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Catholic Ireland had to accept the military occupation and endure the rule of the Protestant regime of William of Orange. In 1689 several London printing houses recirculated pamphlets that had originally published in 1641 during the Irish Rebellion. Although readers of the republished Relation of the Bloody Massacre in Ireland were not provided with an introduction, they were able to recognize its relevance towards the present situation.

Requeste Presentee au Roy par Messieurs les Cardinaux, Princes, Seigneurs, & des Deputez de la ville de Paris, & autre villes Catholiques associez & unis pour la deffence de la Religion Catholique Apostolique & Romaine. May 23, 1588. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The fourth new acquisition is a Catholic League pamphlet printed in French, dated May 23, 1588, and purchased in July 2020 from Robert Heron of Three Gables in Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom. It’s English title is Presentation to the King by Cardinals, Princes, Lords, and Deputies of the City of Paris and other Catholic cities associated and united for the defense of the Catholic Religion (Requeste Presentee au Roy par Messieurs les Cardinaux, Princes, Seigneurs, & des Deputez de la ville de Paris, & autre villes Catholiques associez & unis pour la deffence de la Religion Catholique Apostolique & Romaine). In 1576, Henry, duc de Guise, formed the Catholic League to eradicate all French Protestants. On May 12, 1588, known as the ‘Day of the Barricades,’ King Henry III was forced to flee Paris to escape a popular uprising called by de Guise. This rare 16-page pamphlet was most likely printed in Lyon from the original which was published in Paris. It was a plea to the King, now in refuge at the royal Chateau de Blois, to embrace the Catholic cause in the Wars of Religion, which developed as the Reformation spread across Europe into France. Although Henry III made a formal reply to this request, he also took direct action by summoning de Guise and his brother, a Cardinal, to de Blois before Christmas of 1588 where he had them both killed. This led to many more League pamphlets and Henry’s assassination on August 1, 1589 by a Dominican friar. This pamphlet is unbound, protected by a brown paper cover, and in good condition even though the first few pages are somewhat dirty from frequent handling over the past 400 years.

In conclusion, these four new acquisitions, published in four countries, in four languages, across four centuries, represent the diversity of our ever growing collection of Rare Books at The Catholic University of America. We are dedicated to providing preservation, maintenance, and above all, access, to these cultural treasures and we invite you to contact us with any questions you might have.

The Archivist’s Nook: What’s So Special About Special Collections?

Most major institutional libraries have Special Collections, but what exactly are Special Collections and why are they so special? A special collection is a group of items that includes rare books, museum objects, or archival documents. They are irreplaceable or otherwise unique and valuable. Special collections are usually housed separately from the mainstream library collections and are secured in locations with environmental controls that enhance preservation. Special collections include rare materials that are focused on specific topics such as labor relations, social welfare, and military history. They benefit researchers by consolidating related items together in one repository that are distinguishable from the other libraries. At The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., our Special Collections consists of four distinct departments that have converged over the course of the last century and longer. These departments include the Museum, Rare Books, University Archives, and the Manuscript collection named The American Catholic History Research Collection. This current configuration was created in May 2019, though each department has its own unique history.[1]

Brandi Marulli, Special Collections Technician, with a Statue of St. Francis from the CU Museum Collection.

The Museum’s first donations arrived before Catholic University opened its doors in 1889 and were displayed in Caldwell Hall until 1905. Thereafter, items were housed in McMahon Hall, Mullen Library, or put into storage. Management of the Museum was placed under the University Archives in 1976 and was primarily kept in the Curley Hall Vault. Since then, some items are kept stored in Aquinas Hall while many others are loaned out to various campus offices to use for decoration. Today, it includes art works and artifacts representing different periods and genres which total over 5,000 pieces. They are broken down into three main categories:  Art and Artifacts, History, and Anthropology. The first includes paintings, statues, terra cotta works, ivories, and triptychs, Asian objets d’art, a coin collection from the Classical World, lithographs, engravings, modern works by Gene Davis and S. Saklarian, as well as varied decorative arts and furniture. The second consists of portraits and busts of important religious figures, artifacts related to the university, and Catholic devotional objects, while the third is made up of Ancient Near East archaeological artifacts, Native American implements and pottery, and ethnographic items from Samoa, the Philippines, and North America. For additional information or to inquire about a loan, please contact lib-archives@cua.edu.

Shane MacDonald, Special Collections Archivist, with an Early Modern Choir Book from the Rare Books Collection in Mullen Library.

The Rare Books Department was created by donations from Arthur T. Connolly, the Clementine Library, and the Maryland Collections that converged from the 1910s to the 1950s. The holdings contain approximately 70,000 volumes, which range from medieval documents to first editions of twentieth century authors. Its primary holdings contain printed books and pamphlets dating back to the fifteenth century, over 100 incunabula[2], and 1,400 books from the sixteenth century. There are also over 100 manuscripts, spanning from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries, and include papal bulls, books of hours, choir books and, in particular, the Quodlibeta of Godfrey of Fontaines. A significant section is the Clementine Library, acquired from the remains of the Albani family library, of which a member of whom was Pope Clement XI. Other collections include Connolly’s eighteenth and nineteenth century books and pamphlets, Richard Foley’s modern literature, the Order of Malta materials, Michael Jenkins’ Maryland Collection, pre Vatican II pamphlets, and American parish histories. For additional information, or to schedule a tour or class visit, please contact-lib-rarebooks@cua.edu.

W. J. Shepherd, University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, with the 1885 Deed for Catholic U. signed by Frederick Douglass, D.C. Recorder of Deeds.

The University Archives officially opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1949, with an impressive ceremony that included Wayne Grover, who was Archivist of the United States; Archbishop O’Boyle, chancellor of the university; Ernst Posner, archivist of American University and a seminal theorist of archives; and Philip Brooks, president of the Society of American Archivists. They spoke about the importance of archives in regard to the preservation of culture as well as the Catholic Church’s long tradition as a keeper of historical records. As the official memory of the University, the Archives acquires and administers non-current records, organized by office, department, or program, which document institutional activities. Materials often include minutes, reports, correspondence, photographs, or digital materials.  The donating office controls access but may not destroy any records in the Archives. Any questions can be directed to lib-archives@cua.edu.

Dr. Maria Mazzenga, Curator of the American Catholic History Collection, with a photograph from the T.V. Powderly Papers of women delegates, including L. Barry with her infant daughter, to the 1886 Knights of Labor meeting.

The Manuscript Collection, also known as The American Catholic History Research Collection, was founded in tandem with the University Archives in 1949. It has the separate function of collecting personal papers and institutional records beyond Catholic University which document the heritage and history of the American Catholic people. Areas of concentration are social welfare, philanthropy, labor relations, immigration, and international peace, in addition to Catholic intellectual, educational, cultural, and religious lives. These manuscript collections contain unpublished primary sources such as correspondence, meeting minutes, diaries, photographs, maps, oral histories, electronic records, and sound and video recordings. Consisting of over 400 collections, they range in size of less than one linear foot for the Josephine McGarry Callan Papers to major organizations such as the National Catholic Education Association equally nearly 700 linear feet. The index of collections lists them all alphabetically, with further links to more detailed descriptions including finding aids or inventories. To inquire about remote or in person access, please contact us lib-archives@cua.edu.

Our full-time professional staff, whether working remotely or on site, and assisted by several graduate student workers or volunteer interns, are here and happy to assist researchers and other interested parties as needed. We are happy to present on our materials to classes either virtually or in-house in the Rare Books space in Mullen Library or the other departmental materials in Aquinas Hall. These include myself as University Archivist and Head of Special Collections; Dr. Maria Mazzenga, Curator of the American Catholic History Collections; Shane MacDonald, Special Collections Archivist; and Brandi Marulli, Special Collections Technician. Please see our ‘Contact’ page, our ‘Come Visit Us’ page, and our ‘Reproduction’ policies.[3]

 

  

 

 

[1] Additionally, there are also two other independent and highly specialized Special Collections: The Oliveira Lima Library dedicated to the history and culture of Portugal and Brazil and the Semitics-Institute of Christian Oriental Research Library supporting the languages and thought of the Bible and Ancient Near East.

 

[2] An incunable, or sometimes incunabulum is a book, pamphlet, or broadside printed in Europe before 1501. Incunabula are not manuscripts, which are documents written by hand. As of 2014, there are about 30,000 distinct known incunable editions extant, 

[3] Thanks to TKS, MM, and SM.

The Archivist’s Nook: Anti-Catholic History Resources in Special Collections

Letter from a Romish priest in Canada to one who was taken captive in her infancy, and instructed in the Romish faith, by Francois Seguenot, Boston, 1729, Rare Books, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Catholic University’s Special Collections Department has a vast quantity of documents which encompass the sentiment of Anti-Catholicism in America that spans from colonial times to the dawn of the twenty-first century. Our rare books collection includes eighteenth century works such as Letter from a Romish Priest in Canada to one who was taken captive in her infancy, and was instructed in the Romish faith by Francois Seguenot (1729) and A specimen of a book, intituled, Ane compendious booke, of godly and spiritual sangs,collectit out of the Scripture,with sundrie of other ballates changed out of prophaine sangs, for avoyding of sinne and harlotrie by Robert Wedderburn (1765). Nineteenth century examples include Popery: the foe of the church and of the Republic and Popery Unmasked, while the twentieth century contributes entries such as Priest Baiting and Jesuits: Religious Rogues. Additionally, we have archival documentation on the 1834 burning of the Ursuline Convent in Massachusetts, as well as Anti-Catholic Literature that was collected during the 1928 presidential campaign. The Catholic response to counter this bias included a newspaper column titled Catholic Heroes of the World War, 1928-1933, and the National Council of Catholic Men’s Catholic Hour radio and television programs.

Anti-Catholicism in America grew from the attitudes of Protestant immigrants who were fleeing religious persecution by the Church of England whose doctrines aligned with the Roman Catholic Church. Anti-Catholic rhetoric such as the Biblical Anti-Christ and Whore of Babylon was derived from the theological heritage of the Reformation which criticized the perceived excesses of Catholic clerical hierarchy in general and the Papacy in particular. Theological differences were compounded by secular xenophobia and feelings of nativism towards these increasing numbers of Catholic immigrants, particularly those coming from Ireland and later, eastern and southern Europe and Latin America. Catholic support for the American Revolution helped alleviate notions of the inherently treasonable nature of Catholicism. George Washington staunchly promoted religious tolerance as a means of public order. He suppressed anti-Catholic celebrations in the Army while our reliance on Catholic France and Spain for military aid helped reduce anti-Catholic rhetoric. By the 1780s, Catholics were extended legal tolerance in many states and the anti-Catholic tradition of Pope Night was discontinued.[1]

An account of the Conflagration of the Ursuline Convent. Boston 1834. Ursurline Convent Collection, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America

Anti-Catholicism peaked in the mid nineteenth century as Protestant leaders accused the Church of being an enemy to republican values. The Catholic Church’s silence on the subject of slavery also raised the ire of northern abolitionists. In 1836, Maria Monk was published to great commercial success. It was the most prominent of many scurrilous pamphlets that were published even though it was later revealed to be a fabrication. Numerous supposedly former priests and nuns went on an anti-Catholic lecture circuit telling lurid tales that usually involved sexual depravity and dead babies. Intolerance again exploded in 1834 when a mob burned the Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The resulting nativist movement morphed politically into the Know Nothing Party, which unsuccessfully backed former president Millard Fillmore as its presidential candidate in 1856. But during the Civil War, widespread enlistment of Irish and German immigrants into the Union Army, as well as the dedicated service of priests acting as chaplains and nuns serving as nurses, helped demonstrate Catholic Patriotism.

After the Civil War ended, tensions were again raised by a proposed amendment to the Constitution which stipulated that no public money could be used to support any sort of religious school. Although President Ulysses S. Grant supported this amendment, it was defeated in 1875. However, it was used as the basis for dozens of successful state amendments that prohibited using public funds for parochial schools. The early 20th century brought about a new appreciation of Catholicism, especially in western states where Protestantism had not yet become deeply ensconced. Examples of this show how California celebrated the history of Spanish Franciscan missions, which later became popular tourist attractions and in the Philippines, which was newly occupied by the United States, Catholic missionary efforts were praised. Catholic mobilization efforts during World War I by the National Catholic War Council and the Knights of Columbus were also appreciated by many non-Catholic Americans.

Anti-Catholic political cartoon of the 1928 U.S. Presidential Election. Anti-Catholic Literature Collection, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Nevertheless, anti-Catholicism continue to rage in the interwar years as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) continued to argue that Catholicism was incompatible with democracy and that parochial schools prevented Catholics from becoming loyal Americans. In 1922, Oregon voters passed the Oregon School Law, which mandated attendance at public schools. The law outraged Catholics and in 1925 the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. In 1928, Democrat Al Smith of New York became the first Roman Catholic to gain a major party’s nomination for president. Many Protestant ministers warned that the nation was at risk because Smith would take secret orders from the Pope. Another strike against Smith was his opposition to Prohibition, which had widespread support in rural Protestant areas. Despite his loss, Democratic voting surged in large cities as ethnic Catholics, including recently enfranchised women, went to the polls to defend their religious culture. Catholics made up a major portion of the New Deal Coalition that Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted four years later and which continued to dominate national elections for decades.

The Second World War and the Holocaust brought religious tolerance to the fore. Despite Eleanor Roosevelt’s feud with the Archbishop of New York, Francis J. Spellman, over federal aid to Catholic schools, the 1950s promoted a unified front against communism. National leaders appealed to the common values of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews alike. The so-called ‘Catholic Question’ continued to be a key factor that affected voting in the 1960 Presidential Campaign. To allay Protestant fears, Catholic John F. Kennedy, who narrowly won the office, kept his distance from Church officials and publicly stated “I do not speak for my Church on public matters—and the Church does not speak for me.”[2] After 1980, historic tensions between evangelical Protestants and Catholics dissipated as the two groups often saw themselves allied in regard to contentious social issues like abortion and gay marriage. By 2000, Catholics made up about one half of the Republican Coalition with the rest being comprised of a large majority of white evangelicals.

John F. Kennedy receiving Catholic U’s Gibbons Medal, 1956. Although pictured prominently with Church members here, Kennedy would distance himself from his faith when running for President four years later. Special Collections, Catholic University.

Please see the new Catholic University of America Library Research Guide on Anti-Catholic Resources which are held in our Special Collections and was created by William J. Shepherd and Amanda Bernard.

[1] Pope Night was an anti-Catholic holiday celebrated annually on November 5 in colonial America. It had evolved from Guy Fawkes Night in Great Britain that commemorated the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 by prominent Catholics to blow up the British Parliament. The rowdy celebration included drunken street brawls and the burning of the Pope in effigy.

[2] NPR Web site at https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16920600

[3] As always, special thanks to TSK.

The Archivist’s Nook: Lawrence Flick – Medical Crusader and Catholic Historian

As historians, archivists, and librarians, we address many subjects, including the history of disease. As the world of 2020 faces the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is worthwhile to consider another serious infectious disease that afflicted the world more than a century ago—and the man who, after surviving his own diagnosis of the disease, dedicated himself to its prevention and treatment.  The disease is tuberculosis, which primarily affects the lungs with bacteria spread person to person through tiny droplets released into the air through coughing and sneezing. The person who pioneered the research and treatment of this deadly disease was Dr. Lawrence Francis Flick (1856-1938). A devout Roman Catholic and German-American from western Pennsylvania, Flick was a dedicated medical doctor as well as a serious historian of his Church. His papers, which reside in the Special Collections of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C. document his work in both his fields of interest.

Portrait of Dr. Flick as First President of the American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) in 1920. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

The ninth of twelve children, Flick was born on August 10, 1856, near Carrolltown in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. His parents were German immigrants with roots in Bavaria, John Flick and Elizabeth Sharbaugh (or Schabacher). He was educated at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. It was also an adjunct to a Bavarian Benedictine Monastery, which trained priests for the order as well as the Pittsburgh diocese. After contracting Pulmonary Tuberculosis, the version that affects the lungs, Flick was forced to drop out and return home to recuperate. Somewhat better but still in poor health, Flick enrolled at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College in 1877, the same year that the college became one of the first teaching medical colleges in the United States. Flick graduated in 1879 as a medical doctor and interned at Blockley, the Philadelphia charity hospital. Flick also devoted several years to curing himself, including a tour of the American west and eating an experimental diet. Apparently cured by 1883, Flick returned permanently to Philadelphia and had a remarkable career as a specialist in tuberculosis, and its prevention and treatment.[1]

Anti Tuberculosis poster of the American Lung Association, ca. 1930s, Courtesy of the Museum of Health Care.

Flick’s studies prompted him to argue that the disease was contagious and not hereditary, which contradicted the current school of thought. His efforts to isolate ‘consumptives,’ as those suffering from tuberculosis were then called, in special hospitals known as sanitariums, and to register their cases, was controversial, and opposed by many within the medical profession. Between 1892 and 1910, Flick’s efforts to educate the public prompted him to found the Pennsylvania Society for Prevention of Tuberculosis; the Free Hospital for Poor Consumptives; the Henry Phipps Institute for the Study, Prevention, and Treatment of Tuberculosis, where he was President and Medical Director from 1903 to 1910; and a sanitarium at White Haven, Pennsylvania, that he directed until 1935. His fellow Roman Catholics from all levels of society were generous in their contributions and assistance. Flick was also a promoter of the National Association for Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis (1904) and of its International Congress on Tuberculosis (1908). In addition to his fight against Tuberculosis, Flick was also in the forefront of combating the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 in Philadelphia.

A roadside historical marker honoring Dr. Flick erected in 1959 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission on Route 219 North, near Carrolltown, some 400 yards west of his birthplace. As a child I lived a few miles away and would frequently pass this sign while out driving with my family. Imagine my surprise years later, when beginning work as an archivist at Catholic University, to find we had the papers of this notable homeboy! [3] Photo courtesy of The Historical Markers Database.
Flick was the author of several books, including Consumption, A Curable and Preventable Disease (1903) and Tuberculosis, A Book of Practical Knowledge to Guide the General Practitioner of Medicine (1937). He also wrote many articles and book reviews that were published in The Ecclesiastical Review and the Catholic Historical Review. The latter published his 1927 magisterial article on Prince Demtri Gallitzin, the so called ‘Apostle of the Alleghenies,’ who did so much to bring the Catholic religion to the inhabitant of Flick’s native Western Pennsylvania. Flick died in Philadelphia July 7, 1938, and was buried in the cemetery of Old St. Mary’s Church. His son, Lawrence F. Flick, Jr., was a writer and editor of some note and two of Flick’s daughters wrote biographies of their father

What lesson then does Flick have for us in these times of uncertainty brought on by this pandemic? He is an example of how one person can make a difference in research, education, and, most importantly, the treatment of a terrible disease that resulted in its eventual mitigation. Flick said “Tuberculosis takes only the quitters,” those who got discouraged and gave up the struggle.[2] Flick was a fighter who would not be defeated. Perhaps someone reading this blog post will be such a person, a new Flick to defeat the Coronavirus, or some other as yet unheard of pestilence. We can only hope.

[1] James J. Walsh. ‘Dr. Lawrence F. Flick,’ The Commonweal, August 26, 1938, p. 445.

[2] Raymond Schmandt. ‘The Friendship between Bishop Regis Canevin and Dr. Lawrence Flick of Philadelphia,’ The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine (61:4), October 1978, pp. 284-286.

[3] Special Collections at CUA also houses the records of many Catholic organizations fighting disease and disaster, including the National Catholic War Council, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Also, thanks to TSK and staff for their assistance.

The Archivist’s Nook: George Washington Sleeps Here – Special Collections of Catholic University

A page from the 1790 exchange in print between American Catholics and President George Washington. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

While not a Roman Catholic, George Washington (1732-1799), renowned military leader of the American Revolution and groundbreaking first President of the United States, instead was a moderate Anglican in faith. However, throughout his life he socialized with many Catholics, ranging from the prominent Carroll family of Maryland to his many French and Polish born army officers, such as the Marquis de Lafayette and Kosciuszko. Washington also once attended a Catholic mass in Philadelphia and contributed funds towards the construction of a Catholic church in Baltimore. As Commander-in-Chief, he diplomatically banned the raucous anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes celebration in November of 1775.[1] Washington subsequently evolved into a mythic ‘Father of His Country,’ with Americans of every stripe honoring his memory and collecting relevant documents, art, and other memorabilia. American Catholics have certainly been part of this process. The President’s Day national holiday is a fitting time to take a look at the many Washington related collectable items housed in the Special Collections of The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C.

Copy of the Landsdown Portrait of Washington that was on display for several decades in Mullen Library. It is now in storage pending restorative work. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The Rare Books Department of Special Collections includes two notable Washington items. The first is a 1790 exchange of addresses with American Catholics, bound together with an 1857 edition. John Carroll of Maryland was selected as the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States in 1789, the same year Washington became the nation’s first President. As one of his first official acts as bishop, Carroll wrote an address in March of 1790 on behalf of American Catholics congratulating the President on his office and complimenting him on his “respect for religion” and “unwearied attention to the moral and physical improvement of our country.”  In reply, he assured Catholics they were “equally entitled to the protection of civil Government” as well as thanking them for their Revolutionary War service. The second is a 1921 pamphlet titled George Washington and the Constitution of the United States authored by James Gibbons, Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore and a founder of Catholic University. In it Gibbons extolled the virtues of The Constitution “as the greatest instrument of government that ever passed” and argued that by securing its adoption Washington “made all mankind his debtor forever.”

A piece of Cambridge Elm Tree associated with Washington, currently on display in the Aquinas Hall, Room 101, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The University Museum also has two interesting Washington related items. The first, originally thought to be the famous 1796 Landsdown Portrait by Gilbert Stuart or a Stuart sanctioned copyist, now appears to be one of possibly four or five apparently rogue copies by English born American landscape artist William Winstanley. After being on display in The Catholic Club of New York, it was donated to Catholic University ca. 1940 by Cardinal Francis Spellman. The second, is an alleged piece of the elm tree in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where, according to local legend, Washington assumed command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775, during the Siege of Boston against the British. Sadly, the tree was chopped down in 1923.  However, a thousand pieces were salvaged as relics and distributed to interested parties. Father John J. Ryan gifted a piece to Catholic University in 1924, with an attending plaque stating it was “Presented by the city of Cambridge.”

National Catholic Celebration of the George Washington Bicentennial, May 28, 1932, at Catholic University. Special Collections.

The records of both the University Archives and The American Catholic History Research Center contain materials documenting the participation of Catholics in the bicentennial celebration of Washington’s birth. The George Washington Bicentennial Commission, established in 1924 by a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States and signed by President Calvin Coolidge, sponsored a series of nationwide celebrations in 1932 to the 200th anniversary. The Commission presented Washington on national, state, and local levels as farmer, soldier, and statesman rather than the largely fictitious caricature of popular culture. The National Catholic celebration was held on Memorial Day, 28 May 1932, at Catholic University, with nearly 60,000 people attending. A military field mass conducted in the Stadium as the service was broadcast from coast to coast on radio.[2] Finally, the Archives’ popular Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact comic book collection, widely distributed in Catholic parochial schools, includes their colorful take on the familiar story of the eventful life of the young Washington published in a 1947 issue.[3]

‘Young George Washington,’ Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact, vol. 2, n. 13, February 18, 1947. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

For more on Catholics and the American Revolution see also the July 3, 2016 Catholic News Service story.

[1] https://www.catholicstand.com/george-washington-catholics/

[2]George Washington Bicentennial Observance Collection Inventory, Catholic University.

[3]Thanks to TSK and MM.

The Archivist’s Nook: From the Rhineland to Washington-Soldier’s Homecoming, 1919

A useful publication for soldiers on occupation duty in Germany: Burger Sprachfuhrer: Burgers Help for The Englishman The American to Learn How to Speak German Without a Teacher, n.d., O’Connell Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University of America.

Robert Lincoln O’Connell (1888-1972), a World War I Connecticut army engineer of Irish-Catholic heritage, was the subject of two of my previous blog posts. They explored his letters home to family while training for the military in Washington in 1917, and his active service on the western Front in France in 1918. The third and concluding post of this trilogy looks at his experiences in the U.S Army’s brief postwar occupation of the Rhineland, as well as victory parades in New York and Washington in 1919. As with previous letters, they are written by “Rob” primarily to his mother and his sisters, Ellen and Sarah, who lived in their hometown of Southington, Connecticut. O’Connell’s archival papers, which have also been digitized, are housed in the Special Collections of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

O’Connell served in the U. S. Army of Occupation in postwar Germany. His First Engineer Regiment was part of the First Infantry Division (later immortalized in the Second World War as ‘The Big Red One’). They crossed the Moselle River into Germany on December 1, 1918, and arrived at Coblenz, along the Rhine River, on December 12. During the occupation, which lasted until August 15, 1919, the engineers constructed shelters, improved sanitation, built pontoon bridges, and repaired roads. With ample recreation time, O’Connell engaged in hiking and sightseeing tours where he collected many colorful postcards. In one letter home he wrote(1):

“It took about an hour to reach the river near Coblenz” and “the place was crowded with 2nd Division men, mostly Marines, it seemed, and one of them threw a snowball into our truck.  As we were jammed in and had no top, that ball couldn’t miss and we could only yell back, which started a barrage of snowballs…. I got one on the ear and we all had snow down our necks. I didn’t care much for the game because the mud made the ball slippery– and the 1st Division team needed a lot of practice.  The score was 6 to 0 in favor of the second team.”

First Engineers, Army of Occupation, Wirges, Germany, 7/19/1919, O’Connell Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University of America.

Unlike the aftermath of World War II, the U.S occupation of German territory in 1919 was short lived. O’Connell returned stateside with main elements of the First Infantry Division at Brest on August 18, and arrived at Camp Mills, New York, on August 30. He took part in victory parades in both New York City on September 10 and in Washington on September 17. The final (undated) letter in the collection, addressed to his sister Ellen from Camp Leach, part of the campus of American University in Washington, was probably written a few days after the parade in New York (2):

“This is a camp of 8-man tents on frames and they had been dumped on the floor…We got there at 10:30 and never was there such a disgusted bunch. About four o’clock some ice cream was brought around and the cook managed to get supper at 8:15…Now we are getting plenty of good eats and passes into town 7 c carfare and the K of Cs especially are doing all they can, lots of cigarettes, matches, hand kerchiefs, sightseeing trips around the city in busses and free beds. The papers and the posters rave about the famous or glorious First Division and the recruiting officers are making the most of it.”

Letter to Ellen O’Connell from Camp Leach, September 1919, O’Connell Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University of America.

The campus of American University was also the base of the Army’s Chemical Warfare Unit, which also had a sub-unit at nearby Catholic University. These facilities developed deadly chemical munitions, especially Lewisite Gas. This weapon of mass destruction was invented by C.U. student-priest Julius Nieuwland, though it was not ready in time for use during World War I. However, O’Connell’s visit to Washington had nothing to do with poison gas. It was his final military march. The soldiers paraded to great ovation from the Capitol along Pennsylvania Avenue. Marching past the White House, they were reviewed by the Vice President and members of the Cabinet, who were representing President Woodrow Wilson, while he was away canvassing the country on a doomed mission to sell ratification of the Versailles Peace Treaty. From Washington, the men were shipped to Camp Meade, Maryland, where many were demobilized. O’Connell went on to Camp Devens, Massachusetts, where he was mustered out on September 27, 1919.

Washington, D.C., 1919. First Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Miscellaneous view of parade. Harris & Ewing glass negative, Shorpy.com

After the war, O’Connell briefly returned to Southington, where he worked as a machinist in a bottling mill. He eventually settled in New York City where he married and worked in an auto garage. His story is quintessentially American, yet represents a slice of Catholic Americana depicting the struggles of soldiers and their families during war-time. In comparing O’Connell’s letters with those of soldiers from other wars, certain universal themes emerge, such as longing for home and excitement for new places. There are also references to music, movies, and opinions on race and gender that are very specific to place and time. War is essentially a young man’s game, but O’Connell, who turned thirty during the conflict, was relatively older.  His account shows a maturity that is often absent in the surviving letters that were written by younger soldiers.

(1) Letter to Sarah O’Connell, February 8, 1919.

(2) Letter to Ellen O’Connell, ca. September 1919

(3) Thanks to TK and MM.

 

The Archivist’s Nook: John Brophy – A Pennsylvania Miner’s Life

Miner’s Hospital, Spangler, Pennsylvania, as it appeared in 1946, which was built in 1919 under John Brophy’s leadership. Photograph courtesy of CardCow.com.

Even though he had impacted the lives of generations of my family who labored in the coal mines of England, and Scotland, and Pennsylvania, John Brophy is the most important labor leader nobody knows. I did not know who he was before I deposited myself in the Catholic University Archives, home of Brophy’s Papers, in 1989. The English born Brophy was one of our own and rose to leadership in the Central Pennsylvania district of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in the early twentieth century. In this pivotal role he bettered the lives of mining families like mine achieving greater pay, safer working conditions, and accessible health care. In this last capacity, he presided over the 1919 construction of the Miner’s Hospital of Spangler, Pennsylvania, where my family members entered the world, departed life, and were treated for ailments, including my son, who was one of their last patients before closing its doors for the final time in 1999.[1]

Brophy speaking at a labor rally at Six Mile Run, Pennsylvania, August 17, 1924. John Brophy Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University.

Brophy was born in 1883 in St. Helens, Lancashire, England. As recent Irish immigrants, the Brophys were new to the coal mines of England where his mother’s family, the Dagnalls, had been working for generations. One of Brophy’s English great grandmothers toiled in the mines, as was common for women and small children, before being prohibited to do so by Lord Shaftesbury’s Mines and Collieries Act of 1842. The Brophy family immigrated to the United States in 1892 and settled in Phillipsburg, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. Young Brophy began working in the coal mines with his father in 1894, and joined the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in 1899. As a union activist, Brophy was elected president in 1916 of District 2, representing Central Pennsylvania. The signature highlight of his presidency was getting the celebrated ‘Mother’ Mary Harris Jones, known as ‘The Miners’ Angel,’ to visit his district to give a 1921 Labor Day Address.

A converted stable in Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania, the Brophy family’s first home in America, 1893. John Brophy Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University.

In the early 1920s, Brophy was a member of the Nationalization Research Committee, which supported nationalizing the mining industry. He remained as UMWA District 2 president until 1926 when he challenged John L. Lewis for the UMWA Presidency. After obtaining victory using questionable methods, the vindictive Lewis expelled Brophy from the union.[2] He did not serve officially in the labor movement, though he researched the history of mining in the United States and taught for a labor school in Pittsburgh. For many years, he continued to support the nationalization of mines, and visited the Soviet Union as part of a trade union delegation. Additionally, he worked for the Columbia Conserve Cooperative in Indiana, run by the father of labor activist Powers Hapgood. In 1933, he returned to organized labor when Lewis brought him back into the UMWA bureaucracy. He then became an important figure in the national office of the Committee for Industrial Organizations (CIO), an industrial union federation, after it was founded in 1935.

John Brophy with coal miners in the Donbas (Donets) Coal Basin, Ukraine, during a tour of the Soviet Union in 1927. John Brophy Papers, Special Collections, Catholic University.

From 1935-1938, Brophy was the CIO’s first National Director.  He was also Director of Industrial Union Councils and Director of Industrial Unions. He tirelessly traveled to assist in the creation of state and local industrial union councils, support important strikes, and speak as a representative of the national CIO. He was a mainstay in the CIO national office during its twenty year existence as an independent labor federation. In his capacity as a CIO representative, he often traveled abroad to meet with international labor organizations, and served on a number of government agencies, such as the National War Labor Board and the Wage Stabilization Board. After the merger of CIO with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955, he continued work in the national AFL-CIO office as a trouble shooter, as well as serving with the Community Services Department.

Union leaders of the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO): Francis Gorman, President, United Textile Workers; Philip Murray, Vice President, United Mine Workers; Charles Howard, President, Typographical Workers; John L. Lewis,

Brophy was only able to finish a draft of his autobiography. It was later edited and rewritten with the help of John Hall, and published in 1964, the year after his death, as A Miner’s Life. Brophy’s vehement advocacy for workers’ rights was influenced by his deep Roman Catholic faith, and his reliance on the papal encyclicals on social justice of Pope Leo XIII (Rerum Novarum, 1891) and Pope Pius XI (Quadregisimo Anno, 1931). His personal papers, which include portions currently being digitized, reside in the Special Collections of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The papers of his colleague Phillip Murray, and the pre 1955 merger records of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), the organization they both helped found, are also maintained here. Additional Brophy related materials can be found in the labor history collections of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and Penn State University (PSU).[3]

 

[1] John Brophy, A Miner’s Life. Madison and Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964, pp. 217-219; Maier B. Fox, United We Stand: The United Mine Workers of America, 1890-1990, Washington, D.C.: United Mine Workers of America, 1990, pp.  290-291; Robert Zieger, The CIO, 1935-1955. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1995, p. 27.

[2] An incarnation of old Miner’s Hospital survives in nearby Hastings, PA, as Conemaugh Miners Medical Center.

[3] Special editorial thanks to TSK.