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4.2 Bohemia and St. Joseph's Church (Eastern Shore, Md.), 1840 - 1973


Scope and Contents

This subseries contains records pertaining to the Jesuit Houses on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Bohemia and St. Joseph's Church. Materials include an announcement book (Bohemia), financial records and pew rent books, a sacramental register with notes on church attendance (St. Joseph’s Church), newsclippings, photographs, histories, and publications.

In the eighteenth century, Jesuits established two Houses on the Eastern Shore of the Delmarva Peninsula: Bohemia in 1704 and St. Joseph’s Church in 1765, both of which served small parishes within a large region. From its House Seat at St. Francis Xavier Church (Warwick, Md.), the priests of Bohemia served the private chapels and churches in New Castle County, Delaware; Cecil County, Maryland; and Kent County, Maryland. The priests assigned to the St. Joseph’s Church House in Cordova, Maryland served the Catholics in Talbot County, Queen Anne’s County, Dorchester County, Wicomico County, and Caroline County. Because of this expansive geographic range, priests from Bohemia were frequently required to assist the work of St. Joseph’s Church, and vice versa. The plantations within the jurisdiction of Bohemia and St. Joseph’s Church was, in general, not commercially successful, and the region was known for its poverty. The priests of the Eastern Shore ministered to poor Irish tenant farmers and to both enslaved and free African Americans. The Diocese of Wilmington (Delaware) assumed control of the residence and missions of St. Joseph’s Church in 1864, and of Bohemia in 1898.

For more information, see Background on the Houses of the Eastern Shore and Superiors of Bohemia.

The Bohemia House served the following churches:

- St. Francis Xavier Church (Warwick, Cecil County, Md.), 1704-1898

-St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Hockessin, New Castle County, Del.), 1772-approximately 1790 (Alternate name: Coffee Run Church; Succeeded by: Saint Mary of the Assumption)

-St. Rose of Lima, (Chesapeake City, Cecil County, Md.), 1874-1898

- St. Joseph’s Church (Middletown, New Castle County, Del.), 1883-1889

- St. Dennis Church (Galena, Kent County, Md.), approximately 1861-1878

The St. Joseph’s Church House served these churches:

- St. Joseph’s Church (Cordova, Talbot County, Md.) 1765-1864 (Succeeded by: Saint Peter and Paul Parish inEaston, Talbot County, Md.)

- St. Elizabeth’s Church (Denton, Caroline County, Md.), 1831-1868 (Succeeded by: St. Benedict/St. Elizabeth Catholic Community in Ridgely/Denton, MD)

Note that when still active, these churches may have sacramental records that are available to genealogists. Researchers also should consult the Diocese of Wilmington, particularly if the church is now inactive.

**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. Relevant folders are noted in the finding aid.

Provenance and Arrangement

Materials are arranged alphabetically by House and/or subject. Materials in this subseries are from both the original MPA placed on deposit at Georgetown in the 1970s, as well as the Maryland Province Collection.

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.


  • 1840 - 1973

Conditions Governing Access

The Maryland Province Archives is on deposit at Georgetown University and is the property of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. Access to the Archives is governed by the Maryland Province. As stewards of the Archives, the Georgetown University Library’s Booth Family Center for Special Collections is responsible for managing access to the material based on policies set forth by the Maryland Province.

The Maryland Province Archives represents a crucial primary source for the study of the Society of Jesus from its arrival in the English colonies in 1634 through its expansion along the eastern seaboard, and, more broadly, for the study of Catholicism in America; the history and development of Georgetown University; and of particular significance and interest at the current time the Jesuits’ and Georgetown University’s connection to slavery, most notably the documentation of the 1838 sale of 272 slaves by the Maryland Province, proceeds of which benefited Georgetown College (now Georgetown University). The Georgetown Slavery Archive, a project initiated by the Archives Subgroup of the University’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation, currently is digitizing and making available online relevant documents from the Maryland Province Archives and elsewhere.

Georgetown University Library and the Maryland Province are committed to providing access to the Maryland Province Archives to scholars, the public and especially to descendants of the Georgetown 272. To date, 71 linear feet of records of the Maryland Province, housed in 136 manuscript boxes, are processed and available for research. Descriptions of this material are available in this finding aid. Researchers may view these materials in the Reading Room of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. General policies for using Special Collections can be found here.

Access to the Archives is governed by the Maryland Province and is subject to all Library and Special Collections policies and procedures in addition to the specific guidelines below. These guidelines are a summary of access policies -- the Archives may include materials that fall outside the scope of these general guidelines. For information on access to specific materials, please contact the Special Collections staff.


1. All Archives materials dated or bearing solely on events occurring before January 1, 1940, shall be open for review unless otherwise restricted, subject to Library policies and procedures.

2. All unpublished Archives materials dated or bearing solely on events occurring on or after January 1, 1940, shall be open for review upon request subject to a decision by the Provincial or someone designated by the Provincial.

3. Researchers may quote from the materials.

4. Researchers may take their own photographs of the material for scholarly and research purposes. Allowing photographs is not an authorization to publish or to deposit the material in another library or archive.

5. Written permission from the Maryland Province is required for the publication of substantive portions of any material or publication-quality reproductions of any material.

6. Material not yet processed is not available to researchers; permission will not be granted to access any unprocessed material.

7. Audiovisual, microfilm and other material in the Archives, the original of which is held in another archive, may be consulted and transcribed only. Written permission from the archive holding the original material is required for any duplication, reproduction, or publication of that material.

8. Use the Permission Request Form to request permission (i) to access any restricted processed material or (ii) to publish reproductions or quote substantive portions of the material. Send the completed form by email to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections (


From the Collection: 292 boxes (292 total boxes, plus 14 card catalog drawers (201 regular boxes, 25 oversized boxes, 53 restricted regular boxes, 13 restricted oversized boxes, 14 card catalog drawers))

Language of Materials

From the Collection: Multiple languages


Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

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