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1.2 Correspondence, Superior General, 1759-1935


Scope and Contents

This subseries consists of letters sent by the Jesuit Superior General in Rome to the Maryland Province, and spans the years 1759 to 1935. The Superior General, the leader of the Society of Jesus elected by its General Congregation, wrote regularly to the Maryland Province to clarify the rules and regulations of the Society, interpret Papal decrees, authorize the establishment of new missions, mediate relations among Provinces, and announce the appointments of Rectors, Superiors, and Procurators. Most of the letters in this subseries are written in Latin and concern issues such as the performance of Masses, the celebration of holy days, and the rules of conduct for members. Letters written directly to Maryland Provincials also contain incisive observations on local conditions and address issues including missionary activity among African Americans, the immigration of priests, the curriculum of Jesuit novitiates and schools, and the jurisdiction of the Maryland Province (including the consolidation of the Maryland and New York Provinces in 1879, and the formation of a separate New England Vice-Province in 1921). Of special note are letters from Superior General Jan Roothan to Maryland Provincial Thomas Mulledy (December 27, 1836, and September 12, 1838) that authorized and defined the conditions of the mass sale of 272 enslaved individuals in 1838 by the Province.

**Please note: the finding aid contains Scope and Contents notes for each folder. This folder-level description has been imported from an older finding aid. Researchers may encounter outdated or potentially offensive terminology and occasional inaccuracies. If you would like to notify Special Collections of any issues that need correcting, please contact us.**

Materials on Slavery

Some materials in this subseries contain references to slavery, slaveholding, and enslaved individuals. Some materials in this subseries address the Province's 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals. Relevant folders are noted in the finding aid.

Provenance and Arrangement

The Province sent the materials that comprise this subseries to Georgetown University with its initial deposit in 1977. The subseries is arranged first by the type of recipient, and then chronologically. In addition to original letters written by the Superior General, the subseries contains five copy books, created by the Maryland Province, of letters received by the Superior General (covering the period from May 12, 1804 to November 5, 1873). The subseries also consists of circular letters that were written for and sent to Provincials globally (collectively called the Congregation of Provincials, and spanning the period November 7, 1825-June 19, 1906); and letters written to the General Congregation, a representative body selected by fully-professed members that met regularly in Rome to discuss constitutional matters and global issues (January 1, 1848-March 25, 1935).

Conditions Governing Access

Most materials dated 1900 and later have not been digitized. Materials dating 1900-1939 are available for research use at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. All materials dated 1940 and later are restricted.


  • 1759-1935

Superiors General, Society of Jesus

The following individuals served as Superiors General of the Society of Jesus in Rome, following the full restoration of the order in 1814.

  1. Tadeusz Brzozowski, August 7, 1814-February 5, 1820
  2. Luigi Fortis, October 18, 1820-January 27, 1829
  3. Jan Roothan, July 9, 1829-May 8, 1853
  4. Peter Jan Beckx, August 2, 1853-March 4, 1887
  5. Anton Anderledy, March 4, 1887-January 18, 1892
  6. Luis Martin, October 2, 1892-April 18, 1906
  7. Franz Xavier Wernz, September 8, 1906-August 20, 1914
  8. Wlodimir Ledóchowski, February 11, 1915-December 13, 1942
  9. Jean-Baptiste Janssens, September 15, 1946-October 5, 1964
  10. Pedro Arrupe, May 22, 1965-September 5, 1983
  11. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, September 13, 1983-January 14, 2008
  12. Adolfo Nicol√°s, January 19, 2008-October 3, 2016
  13. Arturo Sosa, October 14, 2016-present


From the Collection: 292 boxes

Language of Materials

From the Collection: Multiple languages