This collection contains letters, diaries, and other writings of Stephen Larigaudelle Dubuisson, S.J. and William Feiner, S.J. Because the two men served as successive Presidents of Georgetown College in the 1820s, and because both made entries in the letterbooks in this collection, these materials have been grouped together.
Dubuisson’s materials consist of loose letters (including several pertaining to students at Georgetown College) and three bound items (a diary, a spiritual diary, and a lecture notebook on metaphysics).
Feiner’s materials include five unbound letterbooks (which contain copies of outgoing correspondence), dating from 1825 to 1829. These letterbooks provide an administrative record of Georgetown College from 1825 through 1829, including commentary on enslaved individuals. Georgetown Letterbook 1 also contains entries in Dubuisson’s hand. There is one folder of loose letters on related administrative topics pertaining to the college from the same period.
Some folders in this collection contain references to slavery, slaveholding, and enslaved individuals. The Jesuits of the Maryland Province operated plantations that relied on the labor of enslaved individuals. In 1838, the Province sold 272 enslaved individuals to enslavers in Louisiana, proceeds of which benefited Georgetown College (now Georgetown University).
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Stephen Dubuisson, S.J.
Stephen Dubuisson, S.J. was born Etienne Dubuisson in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) on October 21, 1786 to a white, slaveholding family. In 1791, at the outset of the Haitian Revolution, the family moved to France (itself in the midst of revolution). Dubuisson lived in Marseilles and Nantes; for a time, he served as a paymaster for a division in the French Army.
In 1815, Dubuisson traveled to the United States, and on December 15 of that year, he entered the Society of Jesus at the White Marsh plantation in Maryland. In 1816, he became Prefect of Studies at Georgetown College. He took his first vows at Georgetown on December 26, 1817, became director of Jesuit scholastics, and continued his own studies (first at Georgetown, and then at Washington Seminary/Gonzaga College). Dubuisson was ordained a priest at Georgetown College on August 7, 1821. While at Georgetown, Dubuisson participated in the famous “miracle cure” of Mrs. Ann Mattingly, circa 1824.
On September 9, 1825, Dubuisson became president of Georgetown College, replacing Enoch Fenwick; he remained in this position for only seven months. After his short tenure, he spent time in Rome (where he professed his final Jesuit vows) and in St. Mary's County, Maryland. Afterwards, he served as pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown, Old St. Joseph's Church in Philadelphia, and St. Mary’s Church in Alexandria.
In poor health, Stephen Dubuisson returned to Europe in 1841. He died in France in 1864.
William Feiner, S.J.
Dubuisson was succeeded as President of Georgetown College by William Feiner, S.J. Born Wilhem Feiner in Munster in 1792, Feiner entered the Society of Jesus in Europe, teaching in Jesuit schools in the Russian Empire and in Polish Galicia during the period of Jesuit Suppression. He came to the United States in 1822, serving first in Conewago, Pennsylvania, and then at Georgetown College.
Feiner taught theology and German at Georgetown, served as the college’s second official librarian, and then became President in 1826. During his tenure as President, he corresponded with Jesuits who operated plantations in Maryland, coordinating the transport of enslaved individuals to and from the college.
Feiner resigned from his position at Georgetown in March 1829. He died in June 1829.
0.50 Linear Feet
Materials are arranged by individual and then chronologically by material type.
Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository