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Horace B. McKenna, SJ Papers 2

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS235

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J., Papers 2 consist mostly of incoming correspondence received by this important Jesuit during his ministry in Ridge, Maryland. Along with numerous research letters for two articles published by McKenna in "The Jesuit Seminary News" about Jesuit work with African-Americans, the collection includes several letters between him and Rev. John LaFarge, S.J. on that same topic. The bulk of the papers, which comprise 4 boxes (6.0 linear feet), date between 1923 and 1953. In addition to correspondence from some of his fellow Jesuits, a large amount of correspondence from many of Father McKenna's family members is included. His parents, brothers, and sisters wrote to him often, and many of their letters about family news are preserved in this archive. There is also a fine run of correspondence from Rev. Thomas E. Ambrose, S.J. to his uncle Father McKenna. These papers also hold correspondence from some of Rev. McKenna's friends and parishioners. A group of files collected by the Rev. Thomas E. Ambrose, S.J. are housed together with the Rev. McKenna, S.J., Papers. Rev. George M. Anderson, S.J., of "America" magazine donated these materials to Georgetown Special Collections Division in December 1998. These files, dating from 1969 to 1988, consist mostly of printed material about Father McKenna's career and include a few items written by him. The Georgetown University Library Special Collections Division is home to other portions of the Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J., papers which document his work with Washington's Catholics between 1960 and 1981. That first segment of papers includes autobiographical tapes of Father McKenna, and research files produced by John S. Monagan, author of the biography "Horace: Priest of the Poor" (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1985). Monagan's book is found in the main stacks of the Georgetown University Library. The library's audio-visual department holds a copy of a video tape "Priest of the Poor" about Father McKenna. This portion of the Father McKenna's papers supplements other portions by providing information on the early years of his ministry.

The Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J., Papers are arranged into six (6) series as described below:

SERIES 1 - Correspondence from Individuals. Contains correspondence from notable individuals to Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J. Includes correspondence from fellow Jesuits, including Rev. John LaFarge, S.J.; Rev. William Markoe, S.J.; and Rev. Harold Mulqueen, S.J. Arranged alphabetically by last name of correspondent.

SERIES 2 - Correspondence from Family Members. Contains a vast archive of correspondence to Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J. from various members of his family. Includes a large number of letters from Rev. Thomas E. Ambrose, S.J.; Anne W. McKenna; Helen McKenna; Julia McKenna; Laura McKenna, Jr.; and Mary McKenna. The letters date from 1923 to 1953. Arranged into folders alphabetically by last name of correspondent and then chronologically within each folder.

SERIES 3 - Incoming Chronological Correspondence (1923-1953). Contains correspondence received by Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J. between 1923 and 1953. Includes letters from friends, parishioners, and fellow Jesuits. Arranged chronologically.

SERIES 4 - Printed Matter. Contains printed matter found among the papers of Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J. Includes two articles he published in the "Jesuit Seminary News" in 1928.

SERIES 5 - Photographs. Consists of 4 folders containing photographs found among the papers of Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J. Includes several photos of St. Peter Claver's Church and School in Ridge, Maryland.

SERIES 6 - Rev. Thomas E. Ambrose, S.J. Files. Contains files about Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J. maintained by his nephew Rev. Thomas E. Ambrose, S.J. Includes newspaper clippings, dated 1970-1989, about Rev. McKenna, along with a few published articles by him. Arranged in rough chronological order.

ABBREVIATIONS: ACS - Autograph Card Signed ALS - Autograph Letter Signed TC - Typed Card TCS - Typed Card Signed TEL - Telegram TL - Typed Letter TLS - Typed Letter Signed TM - Typed Manuscript


  • 1923 - 1988
  • Majority of material found within 1923 - 1953


Conditions Governing Access

The collection 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.


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 (

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

Known for his ministry to the poor in southern Maryland and Washington, D.C., Horace B. McKenna was born on January 2, 1899, in New York City. One of 12 children, Horace was the son of Charles F. McKenna, a respected chemist, and Laura O'Neill McKenna. Educated at Fordham Prep, he entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson in 1916. After pursuing further studies at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Maryland, and teaching first overseas in the Philippine missions and then at Boston College High School, McKenna was ordained on June 23, 1929, by Archbishop Michael Curley of Baltimore. In 1931, he began his long service as a priest in southern Maryland, where he served ably for 22 years amidst poverty and segregation. Perhaps his most notable assignment was as pastor of St. Peter Claver Church in Ridge, Maryland. From 1953 to 1958, Father McKenna worked as assistant pastor of St. Aloysius Church in Washington, D.C. After a time as assistant pastor of Gesu Church in Philadelphia, he returned to St. Aloysius, where he served as assistant pastor for the rest of his life. In 1977, he co-founded SOME (So Others Might Eat), a community service center for the poor and homeless that began as a soup kitchen and expanded into a full-scale operation with medical and counseling services. McKenna was named by "Washingtonian Magazine" as one of the recipients of the "Washingtonian of the Year" award for 1977. He also assisted in the creation of Sursum Corda, a low-income housing project in Washington, D.C. Father McKenna died at the age of 83 on May 11, 1982. He is remembered as a dedicated friend of the poor and underprivileged in southern Maryland and the nation's capital area.

The following abbreviated genealogy of the McKenna family is provided to help researchers identify family correspondents in the Rev. Horace B. McKenna, S.J., Papers: Part II. This brief genealogy focuses on individuals whose correspondence is found within this particular collection. (McKenna) Charles F. McKenna was married to Laura (O'Neill) McKenna. Laura (O'Neill) McKenna died in 1900. Charles F. McKenna married Julia (Harlin) McKenna in 1903. Some of the children of Charles F. McKenna: Charles F. McKenna, Jr., (wife: Jewell). Daniel Morris McKenna, (wife: Gladys). Elizabeth McKenna, (husband: George "Bert" Fargis). Helen McKenna, (husband: Thomas E. Ambrose). Horace B. McKenna (1899-1982), entered Society of Jesus 1916, ordained 1929; Laura McKenna, Jr. (husband: William P. Frost); Mary McKenna; William McKenna (wife: Josepha); (McKenna) Son of Charles F. McKenna, Jr. and Jewell McKenna: Charles F. McKenna, III. (Fargis) Children of Elizabeth (McKenna) Fargis and George B. Fargis: Charlie; George, Jr.; Jimmy; Jo; Judy; Mony; Paul; Tina. (Ambrose) Son of Helen (McKenna) Ambrose and Thomas E. Ambrose: Thomas E. Ambrose, S.J. (Frost) Sons of Laura (McKenna) Frost and William P. Frost: Charlie and Bill.


6 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Horace B. McKenna, SJ Papers 2
Scott S. Taylor
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

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