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Brian A. McGrath, SJ Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS68

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The items in the Brian A. McGrath, S.J., Papers reflect the career of the man whose professional life they document. The majority of correspondence relates to McGrath's administrative duties, though there is a significant amount of personal correspondence dating from 1958, the year McGrath spent abroad at Georgetown University at Fribourg. Similarly, the manuscripts, most of which are student notes and texts of the addresses and speeches McGrath delivered so frequently, relate for the most part to McGrath's activities as a participant at educational conferences and alumni functions. Some do, however, reflect McGrath's intellectual concerns in regard to political theory. It is interesting to note that though McGrath's career at Georgetown spanned a period that saw the University undergo a number of changes, both organizationally and philosophically, very little of the tumult of events appears in McGrath's writings, with the exception of the occasional alumni address with its reference to the adversarial culture and the university, or to the student unrest of the late 1960s.


  • 1933 - 1986

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Though his academic training and personal interests inclined him toward political theory and foreign policy matters, Brian A. McGrath, S.J.'s most significant activity took place under the auspices of the administration of Georgetown University, on which he served for over two decades. Fr. McGrath was born in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 1913, and was a 1931 graduate of that city's Gonzaga College High School. From there, McGrath entered the Society of Jesus, also in 1931, and was ordained at Woodstock College in 1944. After his graduation from St. Louis University in 1936, McGrath went on to earn a master's degree in political science from Georgetown (1940), and a second master's, also in political science, from Harvard University (1949).

McGrath's administrative career at Georgetown began in 1950, when he gave up teaching political science in order to become Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a position he held until 1957. While still Dean of the College, McGrath in 1955 became Academic Vice President of Georgetown, and continued there until his appointment to the position of Administrative Vice President in June of 1966. This latter position he relinquished in 1970, when he became Senior Vice President from then on through the following year, and during the rest of the decade, he was executive secretary of Georgetown's Board of Regents. In addition, he was a member of Georgetown's Board of Directors from 1950 to 1968.

Besides his service at Georgetown, McGrath served throughout the 1950s and 1960s on a number of Boards of Directors and Trustees, and in several organizations in different capacities. Among these organizations were the Greater Washington Educational Television Association, for which he served on the Executive Committee; the Jesuit Research Council of America, for which he served as chairman and a member of the Board of Directors; and 'Confluence', the journal of political theory edited by Henry Kissinger, on whose editorial board McGrath served from 1953 until the journal ceased publication in 1958. McGrath's tenure at 'Confluence' was evidence of his continuing interest not only in the abstract analysis of political theory proper, but in the application of those analyses to the more mundane particulars of lived politics. Perhaps this latter interest was satisfied in McGrath's administrative career, for which political decisions are both a feature of and a necessity for daily business.

McGrath's most useful excursion into the field of political thought and application was, perhaps, his hosting, in 1951, of a meeting of the heads of postwar German political parties. This meeting, the purpose of which was to clarify the complicated issues of West German sovereignty, and that country's international cooperation with Western Europe and the United States, is credited with having contributed not only to the German acceptance of U.S. leadership in postwar Western Europe, but to the stability of the political organization of West Germany. A constant throughout McGrath's varied political activities was McGrath's belief in the ideal of a political theory informed by the goals and categories of Christian thought, a belief that no doubt underlay his participation in the Conferences on Christian Political and Social Thought of 1960 and 1961. Fr. McGrath died of a heart attack on March 25, 1988.


11 Linear Feet (9 boxes)

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Brian A. McGrath, SJ Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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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