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4.4 White Marsh and Bowie (Prince George's County, Md.), 1818 - 1969


Scope and Contents

This subseries contains records pertaining to the Jesuit Houses at White Marsh and Bowie in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Materials include diaries, announcement books, financial records, visitation memorials, correspondence, parishioner papers, photographs, manuscripts, and newsclippings. Of particular interest are White Marsh sacramental registers covering the years 1818 to 1897, which included bapitsmal, marriage, and burial records. Researchers should also note that 89 of the 272 enslaved people sold by the Jesuits in 1838 came from the plantation at White Marsh.

Established in 1741 with Sacred Heart Church as its seat, the House at White Marsh was built on a 2,500-acre plantation that straddled the borders of Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County. White Marsh’s priests traveled long distances to serve private chapels and churches located in Annapolis (14 miles), Upper Marlborough (17 miles), and Elkridge (30 miles). Between 1819 and 1823, and again between 1830 and 1834, White Marsh served as the Novitiate for the Mission of the American Federation. In 1904, the Province moved the House to the Church of the Ascension in Bowie, to be closer to the towns that had emerged along the railroad line. By 1933 the Province transferred the ministry of the parishes served by White Marsh and Bowie to the Archdiocese of Baltimore and, upon its creation in 1939, to the Archdiocese of Washington.

As with the Jesuits’ other Southern Maryland churches, the congregations served by the Houses at White Marsh and Bowie included both white and Black members (and, during slavery, both enslaved and free). These congregations were deeply segregated, and over time, they developed separate sodalities and parochial schools, and held separate events.

For more information on White Marsh, see Background on the House at White Marsh.

The following churches were served by the Jesuits of White Marsh and Bowie:

- Sacred Heart Church (Bowie, Md.), 1741-1933 (Seat of White Marsh residence, 1741-1904)

- Church of the Ascension (Bowie, Md.) 1894-1933 (Seat of Bowie residence, 1904-1933)

- St. Peter’s Church (Baltimore, Md.), 1770-1819 (Alternative name: St. Peter’s Pro-Cathedral; Seat of Baltimore, 1783-1819)

- Holy Family Church (Mitchellville, Md.), 1890-1933 (Successor to Brooke’s Chapel)

If these churches are active, sacramental records may be available to genealogists by consulting the churches or their successors directly. Researchers also should consult the Archdiocese of Washington 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 folders in this series contain references to slavery, slaveholding, and enslaved individuals. Relevant folders are noted in the finding aid.

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.

Provenance and Arrangement

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


  • 1818 - 1969


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