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Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS24

Scope and Contents

The Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers (1815-1827) consist of the remembrances, observations, and expositions of a Jesuit who worked principally as manager of St. Inigoes, a house and plantation in St. Mary’s County, and who taught at Georgetown College. Brother Mobberly wrote on a wide variety of topics: agricultural management, focusing particularly on the economic viability of enslaved labor and strategies for maximizing the production of wheat, corn, and other alternatives to tobacco production; the plundering of St. Inigoes by British sailors during the War of 1812; and spiritual phenomena ascribing power to miracles, ghosts, and curses. Most notably, he explores a Biblical interpretation of racial difference that was used to justify slavery and to explain what he believed to be the transgressive behavior among African Americans.

The papers, frequently cited as “The Mobberly Diaries,” consist of five memoranda books that were written retrospectively for the most part. The earliest of these, a volume probably written in 1823, describes events at Georgetown and St. Inigoes between 1805 and 1820. The other four memoranda books dated between 1824 and 1827 record some events shortly after their occurrence, but these entries are interspersed with short expositions on past events or his views on race, agricultural management, miracles, Protestants, and liberty. In addition to the memoranda books, the collection contains a treatise on the rules of Jesuit and student life; a two-volume defense of slavery based on the Biblical story of Noah's sons, particularly Cham; and his narrative of a demonic possession in Morgantown, West Virginia, popularly known as “Wizard’s Clip.”


  • 1815 - 1827


Conditions Governing Access

The Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers are on deposit at Georgetown University and are the property of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus. 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 USA East Province. 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 USA East 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 USA East 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

Brother Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ (1779-1827; entered October 7, 1807; coadjutor temporal vows, January 2, 1821)

Born on January 12, 1779, probably in Montgomery County, Maryland, Joseph P. Mobberly (sometimes spelled Mobberley) studied at Georgetown College between 1798 and 1806. With the intention of entering the newly-restored Society of Jesus, in 1806 he accepted an assignment as coadjutor to assist with the management of St. Inigoes, a house and plantation in St. Mary's County, Maryland. By 1809 he became its manager, responsible for the purchase of supplies, sale of crops, and management of its enslaved workers. In 1812, he continued his studies at St. Peter’s and New York Literary Institution. He resumed management of St. Inigoes between 1813 and 1814 during the naval raids of Chesapeake ports of the War of 1812. After a brief stint as a coadjutor at White Marsh, a house and plantation in Prince George's County, Maryland, he became a teacher of English at Georgetown College between 1815 and 1816. He returned to St. Inigoes as its manager in 1816 and ended his tenure in 1820 while in the midst of controversy about his performance. He subsequently returned to Georgetown College as a teacher of Latin, Greek, and English. In 1821, he took coadjutor temporal vows, accepting his role as an assistant to the Jesuit community in economic rather than spiritual matters. Brother Mobberly taught at Georgetown until his death on September 30, 1827.


0.4 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was previously part of the University Archives (prior to 1970).

Related Materials

For excerpts, see "Brother Mobberley's Diary," Woodstock Letters v. 32, p. 1-23 (1903).

Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

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