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William DuBourg Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: GTA-820101

Scope and Contents Note

The William DuBourg Papers consist of 0.25 linear feet of correspondence (mainly to DuBourg), invoices, and other documents dating between 1796, the year DuBourg assumed the presidency of Georgetown College, and 1833, the year of his death. The papers are arranged in chronological order; a number are in French.

The bulk of the papers dates from 1796 to 1798, the period of his Georgetown College presidency, and reflects the role of the president at that time as a procurer of goods needed by the institution. Letters and accompanying invoices itemize books ordered by DuBourg for the College library, as well as other supplies such as cloth, the purchase of which may have been necessitated by DuBourg’s introduction of uniforms for students. Most of the letters/invoices present are from Baltimore merchants James Rice and David Williamson. Also included from the time of DuBourg’s presidency is a financial statement for the College dated October 1797. A number of entries in this reflect the presence of enslaved persons on campus.

Only six items in the papers postdate DuBourg’s departure from Georgetown; of these, two postdate his return to France in 1826. Of especial note among these later documents is a letter dated April 10, 1823, written by DuBourg from Wheeling, Virginia, to Enoch Fenwick, President of Georgetown College, in which DuBourg documents the route to be taken by Jesuit novices travelling from Maryland to establish a mission in Missouri.

Additional correspondence of DuBourg’s and other materials relating to him can be found in the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus which are on deposit in the Booth Family Center for Specials Collection in the Georgetown Library.


  • 1796 - 1833
  • Majority of material found within 1796 - 1798

Conditions Governing Access

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 Unpublished documents are governed by the following use restrictions: unpublished material dating from 1971 and later may only be consulted with the permission of the office which created it; unpublished material dating from 1970 or before may be used with the permission of the Archivist or the creating office, unless otherwise restricted.

Biographical Sketch

William (Louis-Guillaume-Valentin) DuBourg (1766-1833), Second Bishop of Louisiana and the Floridas, Bishop of Montauban, and Archbishop of Besançon, served as third president of Georgetown College from 1796 to 1798.

Born in Cap François, Saint-Dominique, he studied theology in Paris, France where he was ordained in 1788 and entered the Company of Saint Sulpice. In 1794, he traveled to Baltimore where he joined a number of other Sulpicians who had been welcomed there by Bishop John Carroll, Georgetown's founder, after the French Revolution.

Aged 30 when he was appointed Georgetown College president in 1796, he is the youngest person to hold that position. Intent on transforming the fledgling institution into an elite college, he adopted a seal, significantly increased faculty size by adding 16 new teachers, enlarged the curriculum by adding classes in history, moral philosophy, music, dancing and drawing, mandated uniforms for students (blue coats, with red waistcoats for Sundays and special occasions), and produced the College's first printed prospectus in English, Spanish and French. He is also credited with establishing the College's first library.

After leaving Georgetown, he became the first superior of Saint Mary's College in Baltimore, from where, with his fellow Sulpicians, he helped Elizabeth Seton in the early stages of her apostolate with the Sisters of Charity. In 1812, he was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas and was consecrated Bishop of Louisiana and the Floridas in Rome in 1815. Returning to the U.S. in 1817, he took up residence in St. Louis where he founded the St. Louis Latin Academy, which developed into St. Louis University. In 1826, he resigned the See of New Orleans and returned to France where he was made Bishop of Montauban. He became Archbishop of Besançon in February 1833 and died at Besançon on December 12th of that year.

[Sources: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia; Robert Emmett Curran. The Bicentennial History of Georgetown University: From Academy to University, 1789–1889. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1993]


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


William DuBourg Papers
Scott S. Taylor. Booth Family Center for Special Collections Georgetown University Library. Revised by Lynn Conway, December 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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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