Special Collections 
	and Archives

SACRED HEART PROVINCE FRANCISCAN RECORDS


 

Selected records of Sacred Heart Franciscan priests and brothers stationed at Indian communities in Arizona, California, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Included on microfilm is correspondence between missionaries, church and government officials, and native parishioners, parish and friary reports; school and sacramental records; scrapbooks and news clippings; chronicles, monographs and religious writings; and a variety of published materials. Also included are photographs and additional publications. Significant topics include administrative, financial, and political concerns of mission parishes and schools; biographical information on several missionaries and select Native Americans; and cultural and historical information on the Menominee, Ojibwa, and Ottawa tribes in Michigan and Wisconsin. Most records created before 1920 and a minority to about 1940 are written in German, reflecting the German nativity of the early members of the province.

In 1982, Marquette University microfilmed the original records after borrowing them from the Sacred Heart Franciscan Archives, St. Louis, Missouri. At that time, the the Sacred Heart Franciscan Archives donated selected photographs (Series 4) and publications (Series 5), all of which were duplicate items within the original archival records. 4.2 cubic feet with 43 reels microfilm.

See e-Archives for select materials available online.

Historical Note

Itinerant Jesuit and  Franciscan missionaries evangelized the North American interior since the seventeenth century. Initially this included Pima, Tohono O'odham, and Yaqui Indians on the northern Mexican frontier and Ojibwa and Ottawa Indians in the western Great Lakes region. By mid-nineteenth century, the development of mission facilities and linguistic and religious materials in the native languages enhanced the ongoing missionary effort.  Missions were established northward along the California coast and at the principal trade outposts of Tucson, Arizona (1782), Harbor Springs, Michigan (1829, formerly New Abre Croche) and La Pointe, Wisconsin (1835, precedes Bayfield). Publications by Baraga and others facilitated native language study for subsequent missionaries.

Despite centuries of missionary effort, indigenous belief systems thrived.  After the 1867 expulsion of the Jesuits, northern frontier natives without benefit of clergy managed their own church organizations, which integrated Christian and Native beliefs and practices.  Among the Apache, evangelizing was never initiated, owing to persistent hostilities with Mexico. In the Great Lakes region, the Dream Dance or Drum Religion, a religious revival from the northern plains, swept across the traditional communities enabling non-Christians to effectively resists conversion.

Meanwhile, German Franciscans sought refuge in the United States. They established the Sacred Heart Province (St. Louis, Missouri) in 1879 and soon accepted requests from the bishops of to establish and administer Indian missions, parishes, and schools in the following dioceses:


1878-1905 (succeeded by the Superior Diocese)  

Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin: Ojibwa of northwestern Wisconsin
 
1880-1975 (transferred to Green Bay Diocese)  

Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin: Menominee and Ojibwa of northeastern Wisconsin
 
1884-1971 (succeeded by the Gaylord Diocese)  

Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan: Ottawa of the northern lower peninsula of Michigan
 
1887-1922 (closed)  

Archdiocese of San Francisco, California: Pomo and Yuki in Mendocino County
 
1896-1922 (transferred to Santa Barbara Franciscan Province)  

Diocese of Tucson, Arizona: Apache, Maricopa, Pima, Tohono O'dham, and Yaqui of southern Arizona
 
1905-present   Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin: Ojibwa of northwestern Wisconsin
 
1971-present  

Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan: Ottawa of the northern lower peninsula of Michigan

Mission sites were generally dispersed to correspond with the prevalent native settlement patterns of small widely scattered camps and settlements.  In most places, development of evangelization work required the construction of new schools, churches, and friaries as former facilities were few and frequently inadequate. Prominent among the friaries were:  Ashland and Bayfield among the Ojibwa, Harbor Spring among the Ottawa, Keshena among the Menominee, and Tucson among the Tohono O'dham, Pima, and Yaqui (established 1913).  At these and other centers, schools were developed and staffed by sisters and occasional brothers and lay persons. Academic and vocational subjects were standard areas of study. Unique among the Franciscan schools was the student operated press (1884-1915), publisher of numerous books and periodicals of historic, linguistic, religious, and promotional nature. Especially prior to 1920, mission stations were ministered catechists. Finances were provided by donations from numerous sources and erratic but important federal school subsidies (ca. 1885-1910).

During the Great Lakes logging boom (ca. 1880-1910) employment opportunities coupled with expanding native populations attracted many from the rural communities to the towns of Ashland, Bayfield, and Neopit (established 1909) in Wisconsin, and Harbor Springs in Michigan. Initially, the new mission parishes were frequently mixed native-immigrant congregations with a native majority. Subsequently, in all towns except Neopit, native residents dispersed, seeking employment elsewhere. As immigrant communities developed, some parishes transferred to diocesan control (Shawano, 1888 and Washburn, 1910). Meanwhile, a mission station was temporarily established among the Stockbridge (1894-1938) and Phillip Gordon (Ojibwa) was ordained in 1906. During the 1970's, administration for many of the Michigan and Wisconsin parishes was transferred to the local dioceses.


Scope and Content

 

The 43 reels of microfilm constitute the bulk of the collection and are numbered consecutively throughout. The titles to publications in this and related collections appear in the Index to Publications in Native America Collections. As they are created, corresponding bibliographic records will also appear in Marqcat, the Marquette University online catalog.

Sacred Heart Franciscan Series 1, Localia: "Local Records," reels 1-24, is comprised of the records from the Indian parishes and schools and local Franciscan friaries, which includes a few local-specific publications.

Reel 22 includes letters by Reverend Philip B. Gordon, Ti-bish-go-gi-jik (Ojibwa, 1885-1948), written from Reserve, Wisconsin, 1914-1919. Additional letters by Father Gordon are found in the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, Series 1-1 General Correspondence.

Restrictions: Reels 9, 15, and 16 are restricted indefinitely as they contain school records, i.e. Holy Childhood School, Harbor Springs, Michigan, and St. Joseph's School, Keshena, Menominee Reservation, Wisconsin. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 is a law governing access to student-related educational records that is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) of the U.S. Department of Education. In 1993, since FERPA's statutory language did not expressly answer questions regarding the termination of a student's right to prohibit disclosure, FPCO concluded that this right was personal and lapsed upon death (Correspondence of Leroy Rooker, Director of FPCO, to Honorable John J. Duncan, Jr., March 3, 1993). In standard archival practice, restrictions on life-long records are lifted 70 years after their date of creation. However, also due to FERPA's statutory language, these restrictions do not apply to student records held by non-educational institutions such as the U.S. National Archives, which also holds copies of these student attendance records. For more information about access to these records and other genealogical records at Marquette University, please submit an Application for Genealogical Query. For some schools, sanitized facsimiles (photocopies with obliterated confidential information) are available to on-site visitors as noted in the descriptive inventories. For contact information about access to these records at a record center of the U.S. National Archives, see Marquette's Guides to Catholic-Related Records about Native Americans in the United States. These records are not at Marquette, but at the institutions described.

Sacred Heart Franciscan Series 2, Realia: "Vital Records," reel 24, in part, focuses on correspondence between Franciscans and the dioceses. It includes reports about the missions, and correspondence between Franciscans and the editors of the Franciscan publications, which published a number of their historical writings.

Sacred Heart Franciscan Series 3, Personalia: "Personal Papers," reels 24-39, focus on the personal records of Franciscans, which include biographical and personnel records and a variety of local history and native language research notes and writings, a few of which are publications.

The Reverend Odoric Derenthal, O.F.M., papers contain sacramental records (Ojibwa?) from Northwest Wisconsin, 1880-1884, which are not restricted.

Sacred Heart Franciscan Series 4, Photography, includes images pertaining to American Indians and the Franciscan missions and parishes. These images were duplicate items within the original photographs at the Sacred Heart Franciscan Archives.

Selected images from this collection are featured online in the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Photographs Digital Collection.

Searching tips: Related images may exist in more than one collection at Marquette University, either online or off-line. To identify all online images pertinent to your research, use the Advanced Search function, which provides simultaneous searching across more than one digital collection, e.g. Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Digital Images (also includes images from the Walter Bernard Hunt Collection and the Sacred Heart Province Franciscan Records), The Indian Sentinel Digital Publication, Holy Rosary Mission/Red Cloud Indian School Images, St. Francis Mission Digital Images. To insure that pertinent online images are not overlooked, conduct multiple advanced searches using diverse but related key words such as names of objects, persons, places, organizations, and ethnic groups. Need help? Need more images? With specific parameters, archives staff will provide copies of images not online. Ask an Archivist about these records

Sacred Heart Franciscan Series 5, Publications: reels 40-43, is comprised of the Franciscan Herald, 1913-1981, Annals of the Province of the Sacred Heart O.F.M., 1929-1941, and Lesser Brothers, 1968-1981, all of which include writings by Franciscans about their evangelization of American Indians. The Franciscan Herald was not microfilmed. These images were duplicate items within the original photographs at the Sacred Heart Franciscan Archives. All of the titles were duplicate publications within the original records in the Sacred Heart Franciscan Archives.

Work in-progress: The Marquette University Libraries are developing bibliographic records for the publications in this collection. This includes all books, pamphlets, magazines, newsletters, prayer cards, published maps, published sound and video recordings, etc., and excludes clipping files and reprints of articles. As they are created, the bibliographic records will appear in Marqcat, the Marquette University online catalog. Furthermore, as an interim and supplemental search tool, most titles to publications in this and related collections appear in the Index to Publications in Native America Collections.

 

More Related Resources

  • Christianity and Native America: Checklist to all Marquette Native Catholic collections plus access to detailed information about them including genealogical records; access to digital image collections and The Indian Sentinel historic magazine online; information for educators about Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and her Native Catholic followers.

  • Guides to Catholic-Related Records about Native Americans in the United States: Over 1,000 repository entries in PDF format to help genealogists and historical researchers find the records they need on American Indians and Alaskan Natives. The entries provide contact information on the repositories, brief descriptions about the records, the Native groups served, and the associated Catholic organizations. Many of the entries include institutional chronologies to explain the history of the records.

Black and Indian Mission Office > Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions

Tekakwitha Conference National Center

U.S. Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops > Cultural Diversity in the Church

 

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