Martin I. J. Griffin papers
Held at: Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center [Contact Us]100 E. Wynnewood Rd., Wynnewood, PA
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
A prominent Catholic historian and Philadelphia native, Martin Ignatius Joseph Griffin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 23, 1842. His parents, Terence J. and Elizabeth (Doyle) Griffin, were immigrants from Ireland. He was educated in parochial and public schools and began his journalistic career as a contributor to Catholic newspapers. He edited a Sunday School journal from 1867 to 1870 before serving as assistant editor to the newly established Catholic Standard and Times, the official Philadelphia diocesan newspaper, from 1870 to 1873. An energetic promoter, he organized Philadelphia’s first youth’s Catholic Total Abstinence Society and in 1872 was one of the founders of the Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America. Griffin also served as Secretary of the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union for 22 years, during which time he founded and edited The Irish Catholic Benevolent Union Journal (from 1873 to 1894) and later continued its publication under the name Griffin’s Journal until 1900. Also widely known as a Catholic historian, he founded the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia in 1884 and served as proprietor and editor of American Catholic Historical Researches from 1886 to 1911. His published books include History of Rt. Rev. Michael Egan, D.D. First Bishop of Philadelphia (1893), Commodore John Barry (1902), General Count Casimir Pulaski (1909), and Catholics and the American Revolution (1907). Griffin died in Philadelphia on November 10, 1911.
The Martin I. J. Griffin papers document the life, work, and research of Martin I. J. Griffin (1842-1911). This collection dates from 1842 to 1950, with the bulk of materials dating from 1870 to 1911, and contains mostly correspondence, research files, notes, clippings, ephemera, and assorted personal records. The clippings are organized by subject and deal principally with Griffin's research on the Catholic Church in America. Researchers should bear in mind that this collection contains materials which predate Griffin and also some materials which were created decades after Griffin’s death. Additionally, it should be noted that the majority of the dates are approximations due to the fact that many of the materials contain handwritten dates that reflect the date of the subject and not of the document itself. There is also a significant amount of undated materials.
This collection is divided into three series: “I. Correspondence, 1804-1933,” “II. Subject files, 1805-1942,” and “III. Personal papers, 1842-1911.”
Series “I. Correspondence” spans from 1804 to 1933 and contains alphabetically arranged letters written to Griffin, followed by alphabetically arranged letters from Griffin. Following these letters are pieces of correspondence involving the American Catholic Historical Society, and the series ends with documents involving assorted correspondents. Researchers should note that correspondence can also be found throughout other areas of the collection as it pertains to specific topics.
Series “II. Subject files” contains clippings, notes, correspondence, copies of letters, and drafts of Griffin’s writings; this series spans from 1805 to 1942, although the majority of the records are undated. Many of these subject files retain their original folder titles to preserve the context of their arrangement. This series is divided into three sections of research files. The first two sections of this arrangement reflect the original arrangement, with the third section added to this arrangement system.
The first section contains subject files that are arranged alphabetically by subject, and within these subjects the arrangement reflects the order previously established.
The second section is also arranged alphabetically by subject, and includes subject files that contain a significant amount of records for each subject. As with the first section, each subject is arranged according to its previous order. Included in this section is a significant body of research regarding Commodore John Barry, Bishop John Carroll, Bishop Henry Conwell, Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick, John Paul Jones, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Stephen Moylan, the St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s parishes, and the involvement of Irish and Catholics in the American Revolution.
The third group of research files is mostly comprised of assorted printed materials, writings, notes, clippings, and research files on assorted subjects dating from 1856 to the 1920s. These materials are grouped by document type, with assorted letters, articles, notes, and indices from various sources preceding assorted notes and writings. These are followed by assorted clippings, and then assorted subject files which are arranged alphabetically and then numerically. This arrangement reflects the previous order of the collection, and preserves past attempts at organization. Users of the collection should note that this section would benefit from further organization, and may or may not contain materials directly related to other areas of the collection.
Series “III. Personal papers” dates from 1842 to 1911. This series is arranged topically, and contains family correspondence; the obituaries of both Martin I. J. Griffin and Mrs. I. J. Griffin; records documenting Griffin’s involvement with various societies, associations, and guilds; academic records; photographs, clippings, drawings, and assorted notes; diaries, maps, and travel documents; poems; address lists; and scrapbooks.
This collection documents the life, work, and historical research of Martin I. J. Griffin. As such, the collection reveals Griffin’s research methodology and contains a wealth of information on subjects of his interest. This collection will thus prove especially valuable for researchers interested in Martin I. J. Griffin himself, the history of Philadelphia Catholic parishes, and the history of Irish Catholics and the Catholic Church in the United States during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
An older finding aid is available on the PAHRC website:
The arrangement of the collection has been slightly altered from this finding aid.
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. This collection was minimally processed in 2013-2014, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder. Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections," the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages in 16 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 4 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections or complete any preservation work.
- Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Amanda Mita and Evan Peugh
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 March 19
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.