James, Cardinal Gibbons was a key figure in American Catholic history as a major leader and spokesman of the Church during a tumultuous time of industrial growth, contentious immigration, and structural change in American society. He was also a founder and first Chancellor of The Catholic University of America (CUA), where his presence on campus is commemorated by Gibbons Hall (see image below). He also presides over the CUA campus in many guises, most notably as a marble bust in McMahon Hall and a large oil on canvas painting in Mullen Library. There is also a small collection of his archival papers preserved in the CUA Archives and another, larger cache with the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
I’d argue, too, that Jefferson was an outreach kind of guy. He wanted “what remains” of lives lived, as in the archival records of public servants in particular, out in the public sphere, where future generations could examine and learn from them. So went the way of archives in America. Generally speaking, American archives are open and accessible to the public, and have become more so over time.
Thanks to archival records, in fact, we know that Jefferson had ties to the Catholic University of America here in Washington, D.C. It was Jefferson who advised Samuel Harrison Smith, a Philadelphia native, to relocate to what is now the campus of Catholic University, in order to establish Washington’s first newspaper, the National Intelligencer. Smith and his wife, Margaret Bayard Smith, followed Mr. Jefferson’s advice and built a home that would remain part of the Catholic University campus until it was demolished in 1970.