Record Group 1 of Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records
BCIM Series 4-1 Periodicals

The BCIM print periodicals include The Indian Sentinel, 1902-1962, Die Indianer-Wache,1903-1918, the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Newsletter, 1977-2009, and The Sentinel, 2009-ongoing. Marquette University microfilmed The Indian Sentinel and Die Indianer-Wache, but not the subsequent titles.

The Indian Sentinel: From 1902 to 1962, The Indian Sentinel featured articles about Native Americans across the United States and their evangelization by the Catholic Church. Most were first-hand accounts by missionaries in the field who often illustrated them with photographs taken themselves or by other local photographers. Their articles reported on current activities and events at their missions, schools, and local native communities and many articles also described the lives of notable Native Americans and other missionaries. Also included are articles, essays, and letters authored by Native Americans, many of whom were students in Catholic schools.

The Indian Sentinel was the official publication of the Society for the Preservation of the Faith among Indian Children, a subsidiary fundraising organization of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions that the Bureau established in 1901. To accommodate European members, the Bureau also published Die Indianer-Wache, a German language edition, 1903-1918, with identical articles and illustrations.

Throughout its history, the magazine’s content remained consistent, its format changed slightly, and its frequency varied markedly as follows:

1902-1915 Annual Profiles of missions and mission schools, letters from missionaries in the field, obituaries of missionaries and converts, histories of missions, and current condition of various tribes. Few photos.
1916-1935 4/year Profiles of missions, mission schools, related activities, and notable Indian Catholics, letters from missionaries in the field, obituaries of missionaries and converts, histories of missions, current condition of various tribes, and hymns/ prayers in native languages. 24-48 pages/ issue with single columns of print and many photos.
1936-1956 10/year Same as above, except the page count reduced to 12-16 pages/ issue and the columns of print increased from one to two.
1957-1958 6/year Same as above.
1959 3/year Same as above.
1960 Annual Same as above.
1962 4/year Same as above.

In 1929 and 1930, 30 or more mission-specific special editions per issue were created, which used supplemental overlays comprised of articles highlighting those missions. Within these years, the special editions are arranged alphabetically immediately following the general edition. No issues were published in 1961 and publication ceased at the end of 1962.

Initially, most illustrations were line drawings by professional artists or photographs by professional photographers. But soon, missionaries with consumer-grade cameras armed produced the bulk of the photography, which accompanied the articles they contributed. By the 1920s, a number of illustrations featured subjects attired in native dress, either in their homes or at Indian-theme pageants and celebrations, which gained in popularity as rural tourism developed in the Midwest and West.

Be aware that the proper names (and spelling) found in the articles are historical names that may vary markedly from contemporary names and Library of Congress subject headings. This includes the names of Catholic missions and schools, religious institutes (orders, etc.), native ethnic groups (American Indian tribes, Eskimo communities, and other related groups), and reservations and localities. Several names have changed or varied more than once as well as similar or identical names may represent more than one group or place. To clarify identities, we advise researchers to consult the Help Pages for Native America Digital Collections, which includes master lists of authors of articles and master lists of Catholic and Native groups represented in them. See Marquette's Guide to Catholic Records about Native Americans in the United States for general background information and comparisons between contemporary and historic names of related Catholic institutions.

Most manuscripts, photographic prints, drawings, and other artwork submitted for publication in The Indian Sentinel and Die Indianer-Wache are found in other Bureau series as follows: manuscripts -- Series 1-1 (interfiled with correspondence), photographic prints -- Series 9-1 and Series 9-3, drawings and other artwork -- Series 12. For more information, see the scope and content notes for these series.

Unbound loose originals of The Indian Sentinel are available for all years except 1904-1905, 1906, 1911, 1912, and 1913.

The Indian Sentinel Digital Publication Collection: The online version in English only, 1902-1962; Die Indianer-Wache is not included.

Searching tips: Related images and texts may exist in more than one collection at Marquette University, either online or off-line. To identify all online documentation 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 documents are not overlooked, conduct multiple advanced searches using diverse but related key words such as names of objects, persons, places, organizations, and ethnic groups.

Die Indianer-Wache: is the German language edition of The Indian Sentinel, 1903-1918, which is available as microfilm or bound originals. Unbound loose originals also exist for 1903-1904, 1907-1912, 1914-1918.

Index to Illustrations in The Indian Sentinel: An in-house card index to illustrations alphabetized by state and there under by community (boxes 1-13) with advertisements alphabetized at the end (box 13).

Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Newsletter: The Newsletter, 1977-2009, featured short news articles and photographs on current events of general interest to Native American Catholics and others involved in ministry to them. It included a column by the Executive Director -- Monsignor Paul A. Lenz, 1977-2007, and Father Wayne C. Paysse, 2007-2009; essays on social justice issues by Reverend Ted Zuern, S.J., 1979-2006; and a column by Monsignor Paul A. Lenz, as vice postulator of the canonization cause of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, 2007-2009. Its frequency varied from seven to 10/year and occasional inserts announced forthcoming events, such as the Tekakwitha Conference, or conveyed greetings for forthcoming holy seasons, such as Christmas. The Index to Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Newsletter is available online through 1991. The photographs published in the newsletter have been transferred to Marquette University.

The Sentinel: The Sentinel, 2009-ongoing, features short news articles and photographs on current events of general interest to Native American Catholics and others involved in ministry to them. It included a column by the Executive Director Father Wayne C. Paysse, 2009-ongoing, and a column by Monsignor Paul A. Lenz, as vice postulator of the canonization cause of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, 2009-ongoing. Volume one contains four issues; thereafter its frequency has been three issues/year. Since 2011, the Black and Indian Mission Office has archived The Sentinel on its website in PDF format.

For more information, "Ask an Archivist."

General Information

These records contain extensive and diverse historical narratives about Native Americans and their communities, and especially Native American Catholics and their Catholic parishes and events. Also detailed are the Catholic missionaries and their evangelization through parishes, schools, and special events. These accounts are especially valuable whenever related historical records have not survived elsewhere.

Archivists have made extensive efforts to properly identify, arrange, and copy the documents. However, researchers should be aware that, in at least a few instances, legibility and misinterpretation of handwriting has compromised the order of documents, e.g. abbreviations for both "January" and "June" may appear as "Jun." Also, some marginally legible original documents are unreadable in the microfilm version. Patrons coping with such issues are invited to "Ask an Archivist."

Most correspondents were Bureau personnel, ordinaries (bishops and archbishops who headed dioceses and archdioceses), U.S. government officials, benefactors, e.g. Katharine Drexel, and representatives of national and international Catholic missionary organizations. Common topics include Catholic education and evangelization, Native American socio-economic issues, and related U.S. Government policies, legislation, and appointments. Substantial volumes per year occurred between 1915-1945.

A number of non-English letters are also included, which reflects the mutual linguistic abilities of the first three BCIM directors -- Brouillet (French), Stephan (German), and Ketcham (Choctaw) -- and their correspondents as well as the publicity interests of the fourth director (Hughes). Where they exist, English summaries or full-text translations are available online with links in the appropriate folder titles of the inventories or as PDF copies available on request. Newspaper clippings are included as well with additional ones in Series 15.

The names of Catholic institutions with their corresponding place names are used throughout the descriptive inventories according to the names current at that time. Be aware that a number of institution and place names changed over time and that more than one name may have been used simultaneously. For examples, St. John's Mission School on the Gila River Reservation in Arizona was known first as St. John's Mission, Komatke, Arizona and later as St. John's Mission, Laveen, Arizona and the Holy Rosary Mission School near Pine Ridge on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is now known as Red Cloud Indian School.

The years 1884, 1900, 1920, 1934, 1976, and 2007 were transitional years between old and new directors. To avoid splitting years, all of the records for these years were filed under the outgoing director.

Prior to 1977, the series 1-1 folder headings identify the principal institutions (e.g. parishes, missions, schools), their localities, and the year of the records, and thereafter, they identify the year of the records without identifying institutions and localities. Throughout, the headings do not identify the Native American and Catholic groups (e.g. arch/ dioceses, religious congregations/ orders) involved, some of which varied over time, and they do not identify the "mission stations" filed under the pre-1977 "general" headings of the states and District of Columbia, some of which were temporary and short lived.

For presumptive identifications of Catholic and Native American groups, places, and years, see the Guide to Catholic Records about Native Americans in the United States. Consult its user tips, listings of Native American groups and Catholic groups, and guide entries, which illuminate the Bureau records and other Marquette collections.

Whenever a bishop's correspondence to/ from the BCIM or Commission pertained to one institution, it was filed among the correspondence for that institution. But if it pertained to more than one institution, it was filed under the general correspondence for that state. Researchers unfamiliar with the related Catholic arch/ diocesan histories, may wish to consult the diocesan entries in the Guide to Catholic Records about Native Americans in the United States and/or the Index to the Catholic Directories for the United States with Appended Countries, 1817, 1822, 1833-.

Between 1977-1980 and in 1997, Marquette University microfilmed Series 1 through 1975 with the exception of scant amounts of pre-1976 correspondence received later. Some early ledger-book copies contain marginal legibility. The original record order has been maintained, which includes varying combinations of hierarchical, alphabetical, chronological, and numerical arrangement according to the changing needs of the directors and staff of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions.

Retrospective additions and special compilations, 1873-1976: Included is correspondence acquired after 2000 and not microfilmed; a compilation of Bureau correspondence by Native American correspondents selected from throughout the general correspondence, 1873-1975; and a compilation of Bureau and Collection legal documents and minutes of meetings by their boards of directors, 1876-1976. The BCIM Series 1-1 Index of Native American Authors includes all identified notable authors; PDF copies are available on request.

Series 1 Index of Correspondence (Work in-progress): An off-line database that contains all correspondents with the BCIM and Commission through 1976, including additions. Not included were BCIM directors and Commission secretaries while in office. Names are alphabetized by surnames, if known, or forenames when surnames are not given, e.g. "Sister Mary." Titles and initials designating religious order affiliations are included, e.g. "Sister Mary, O.S.F." If known, places of residence, name variations, and Native American ethnicity is included. In some instances, native ethnicity was confirmed through cross-referencing with Series 2-1 BCIM School Records and other sources that confirmed affinities between specific surnames and ethnic groups. The index is especially useful for locating correspondence by frequent writers who corresponded from multiple locations, e.g. Katharine Drexel. For more information, please contact, "Ask an Archivist."

Reformatted records: The microfilm version of the Series 1-1 Correspondence is available via interlibrary loan within the United States; please follow the "Guidelines for Interlibrary Loans." PDF copies are available as well, for which fees may be assessed according to the Fee Schedule.Because the original correspondence before 1920 is in fragile physical condition, researchers desiring access to these years may be directed to the microfilm.

For more information, "Ask an Archivist."