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Saint Joseph'S University Records


Held at: Saint Joseph's University (formerly Saint Joseph’s College) [Contact Us]5600 City Avenue, Francis A. Drexel Library, Philadelphia, PA 19131-1395

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Saint Joseph's University (formerly Saint Joseph’s College). 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

Father Joseph Greaton, S.J.: Old Saint Joseph's Church was founded by Fr. Joseph Greaton (1679–1753), an English Jesuit who came to Philadelphia from Maryland in 1729 to establish a mission. He originally celebrated Mass in his house at 321 Willings Alley. Father Greaton built the first chapel in 1733, almost certainly a house-chapel attached to his residence. He funded the Chapel with his inheritance from his English family, he had been born into a wealthy Royalist family at Ilfracombe in Devonshire, England in 1679. Unlike many priests, he accepted the inheritance but used it to fund his mission in America. His intention was to start a school but his plans were not completed and were delayed by the Jesuit Suppression and dissent among Philadelphia Catholics.

Father Felix Joseph Barbelin, S.J.: Father Barbelin was a pastor and educator who founded Saint Joseph’s College continuing the work of Father Greaton. He was born in Lunéville, Lorraine, France, May 30, 1808 and died in Philadelphia, Pa., June 8, 1869. After attending French schools and seminaries, he became a Jesuit in Maryland in 1831, and was ordained on Sept. 22, 1835, and taught at Georgetown University. He served as an assistant at Saint Joseph's, Philadelphia, and became pastor there in 1844, remaining in that post until his death. He inaugurated the first parish sodality at Saint Joseph's (1841) and established a St. Vincent de Paul conference and a free school for girls in Philadelphia. The Italian congregation he organized developed into the first Italian Catholic parish in Philadelphia. He gathered the first African American congregation in Philadelphia and established a school for African American children. He founded Saint Joseph's Hospital and established Saint Joseph's College, Philadelphia, serving as its first and third president. He also conducted a night school for adults.

Father Burchard Villiger, S. J.: (1816?-1903), a Swiss immigrant Jesuit priest who had served as director of studies at the original Saint Joseph's College when it opened in 1851, moved to the area near Girard Avenue and 17th Street in North Philadelphia in 1868. Intending to establish a "Catholic University of Philadelphia" at the site, Father Villiger began by founding the Parish of the Holy Family. He had a chapel, rectory, and parish school built in the late 1860s/early 1870s. Father Villiger served as President of Santa Clara University in 1861-1865 and then became President of Saint Joseph’s College in 1893-1896. He had a great interest in religious relics and collected many of them for the Church of the Gesu.

The Saint Joseph’s University Records (formerly Saint Joseph’s College) houses the institutional, and organizational records of Saint Joseph’s University. This collection, which dates from 1851-2019, with bulk dates of 1960-1990, consists of photographs; including negatives and slides, correspondence, documents; including records, minutes, memoranda and reports, ephemera, objects, memorabilia; including audio and video recordings, scrapbooks and yearbooks which document and evidence the history of the administrative and academic units and activities of SJU’s administration, faculty, staff and students. Because of SJU’s association with Old Saint Joseph’s Church and the English and French Jesuits who founded it, this collection not only documents the University’s history and activities but adds to the knowledge of Catholic History in the City of Philadelphia and its surrounding areas.

This collection gives a view of the history of Catholic Education in the Philadelphia area. While not complete in all areas and series, it speaks to the history and migration of Catholic schools in the Philadelphia area from their downtown locations, to the 1920s migration of many schools to the surrounding suburbs. The Jesuit Series also clarifies the activities of area Jesuits, in, near and around Philadelphia. In addition, records relating to the running of Saint Joseph’s University give a fuller picture of the processes that shaped its current policies, governance and activities. Memorabilia of certain key figures in Saint Joseph’s University history like Father Dennis Comey, S.J. and Cardinal John P. Foley adds to the available biographical and historical information on these men’s lives. The collection is diverse, with materials that would especially interest researchers of local history and Catholic history.

The materials can be basically divided into 5 different series; History of Saint Joseph’s University, Faculty, Administration, Students and the Jesuit Collection. Within these series are a large number of subseries.

The History of Saint Joseph’s University contains records and documents relating to the College/University’s founding. Some of the documents are original and some are copies of originals. There are records relating to the Church of the Gesu and Old Saint Joseph’s Church which are both associated with SJU and materials about early student activities including student’s participation in WWI. There is also documentation of the College’s move to Overbrook, materials on the College/University’s Centennial and materials collected to support the writing of the University history by David Contasta.

The Series of materials on faculty, administration and students are divided into additional subseries which are noted in the box list. While there is some earlier and later material most of the items are from the period of 1960-1990 and provide details about the processes of governance in administration and faculty committees and curriculum. There is also a large amount of material on student activities both in and out of the classroom for this time period.

The Jesuit Series includes materials on Jesuit education, including SJU participation in the groups; Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and Jesuit Education Association (JEA). There are Jesuit publication and Jesuit Yearbooks. Memorabilia in this series include diplomas, prayer cards, certificates, missals and calendars. There are also memorabilia from Father William M. King, S.J., Daniel O’Conors, and Michael Smith, S.J. Audiotapes from Xavier Damians and Herbert Smith, S.J. are also part of this series. A group of materials from Pope Francis’ visit in 2015 has been collected.

A description of the full scope and content of the collection are available on the main collection finding aid at: "" .

This collection is arranged into the following series:

Jesuits Cardinal John P. Foley Collection Special Programs; Academy of Food Marketing College of Arts and Sciences AFROTC Affiliated Interest Organizations Biology Chemistry Classics Criminal Justice Program Distance Learning Center Economics Education and Health Services English Ethnic Studies Fine and Performing Arts History International Relations Latin American Studies Mathematics and Computer Science Modern Languages Philosophy Physics Political Science Psychology Sociology Theology Interdepartmental Studies Jewish Catholic Institute Pre-Law Study Abroad International Student Services Multi-Cultural Life Orientation University College College of Business and Administration (Haub School of Business) University Press Graduate Programs Faith Justice Institute Campus Ministry Women on Campus Counseling and Personnel Development Institute for International Trade Career Services Center Comey Institute External Relations Campus Wide Events Development Planning Committees Policies Alumni Relations Athletics Photographs Art Collection Saint Joseph's University History Governance Middle States Association Presidents Board of Trustees Faculty Administrative Services Human Resources Financial Facilities/Buildings Drexel Library Archives Office of Admissions Registrar Student Publications Honors Program Peace Coalition Fraternities, Clubs, Organizations, Societies Student Resident Life Student Life Student Activities Ephemera Memorabilia Audiovisual materials Objects

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researchers, however, there are some restricted materials which are noted in the box list.

Collection Inventory

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