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John Early, S.J. Papers

Identifier: GTA-GAMMS22

Scope and Contents

The John Early, S.J. Papers include correspondence to and from Fr. Early, a diary of events at Georgetown College from 1870 to 1872, academic and theological notes and notebooks, and printed material. In addition to material relating to Georgetown College, materials relating to Loyola College in Baltimore are present. A great deal of the information in the Georgetown University Archives relating to the impact of the Civil War on Georgetown College is to be found in the correspondence folders within the papers.


  • 1839-1878
  • Majority of material found within 1849-1873

Collection-level Access Restrictions

All published documents housed in the University Archives are open for use. Unpublished documents are governed by the following use restrictions: unpublished material dating from 1971 and later may only be consulted with the permission of the office which created it; unpublished material dating from 1970 or before may be used with the permission of the Archivist or the creating office, unless otherwise restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical note

John Early was twice President of Georgetown College, from 1858 to 1866 and 1870 to 1873. Born in Maguire's Bridge. County Fermanagh, Ireland on July 1, 1814, he was the eldest son of John and Ann (Martin) Early. In 1832, he attended Armagh Academy for nine months and then applied for admittance to the seminary at Maynooth in County Kildare. That institution having no vacancies, he left for the U.S. in July 1833. Two of his brothers, James and Thomas, later followed him and settled in Albany, New York; a sister became a Carmelite nun in Baltimore and took the religious name of Sister Barbara.

After enrolling at Mt. St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, John Early came to Georgetown College in February 1834. There he was received into the Society of Jesus and in August 1834 he entered the novitiate at Frederick, Maryland. Entering at the same time was Jose Lopez, who like John Early, would later become Georgetown College President.

In 1836, Fr. Early returned to Georgetown College to study philosophy and theology. Simultaneously, he joined the faculty and also served as a prefect.  In July 1845, he was ordained at Trinity Church. After ordination, he continued teaching and also attended the mission of Laurel in Prince George's County, Maryland. In 1847, he was assigned to St. Joseph's Church in Philadelphia and the following year was appointed President of Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, a position he held until 1851. In 1852, he was sent to Baltimore to establish Loyola College.

After his first term as Georgetown President (1858-1866), he returned to Loyola College, Baltimore, as President, remaining there until he again assumed the presidency at Georgetown in 1870. He died there in office on May 23, 1873 and is buried in the Jesuit Community Cemetery on campus.

Fr. Early was known as a man of dignity and tact, attributes which served him - and the institution he headed - well during the Civil War when a combination of greatly reduced enrollment, financial difficulties, and three federal occupations of campus made it uncertain whether Georgetown College could remain in operation. During his second term as President, the Law Department opened and the College's first printed newspaper, the Georgetown College Journal, was established.

[Sources used "Death of Rev. John Early, S.J.", Georgetown College Journal, June 1873 and Curran, Robert Emmett:A history of Georgetown University.  Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, 2010]


0.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


John Early, S.J., Papers
Georgetown University Library, Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Archives Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057