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Abraham J. Emerick, SJ Papers

Identifier: GTM-180101

Scope and Contents

The Abraham J. Emerick, SJ Papers consist of correspondence and miscellaneous documents related to his missionary activities in Jamaica and his work with the Mission of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia, which was supported by Mo. Mary Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People.

Most of the correspondence in the collection is from Mo. Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, covering topics such as her financial support of Fr. Emerick’s work and a proposed agreement between the Sisters and the St. Ignatius Religious and Missionary Society of Pennsylvania for a church for the Mission. Also includes discussion of the failure of that agreement and the eventual transfer of the Mission to the Holy Ghost Fathers.

Note on Problematic Language

Please be aware that this collection contains documents that use outdated and potentially offensive terminology.


  • 1904 - 1918


Conditions Governing Access

The Abraham J. Emerick, 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 All unpublished Archives materials dated or bearing solely on events occurring on or after January 1, 1940, shall be open for review upon request subject to a decision by the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 Notes

Fr. Abraham J. Emerick (1856-1931) entered the novitiate at Frederick in 1876 and subsequently continued his studies at Woodstock College (1881-1883) and taught at Holy Cross College (1884-1886). From 1887 to his ordination in 1895, he was stationed at St. Peter’s College (Jersey City), Woodstock College, St. Joseph’s College, and Frederick, before spending ten years at St. George’s College in Jamaica (1896-1906). He requested financial assistance from Mo. Drexel during this time, which he used to help pay teachers at his catechist schools and establish factories in which Jamaican women could work.

Mo. Drexel called upon Fr. Emerick to help with the Mission of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia, which he ran from October 1907 to May 1909 when it was transferred to the purview of the Holy Ghost Fathers by Archbishop Ryan. After this, Fr. Emerick helped found and supervise schools and churches in St. Mary’s County (1911-1920) and was thereafter stationed at Leonardtown, St. Joseph’s, Georgetown Preparatory School, and Georgetown College until 1930. He died at Woodstock College in 1931.

Mo. Mary Katharine Drexel (1858-1955) was the daughter of Francis Anthony and Hannah Langstroth Drexel alongside sister Elizabeth. Her father Francis was a Philadelphia philanthropist as well as a senior partner in the banking firm founded by Francis Martin Drexel. After Katharine’s mother died in 1858, Francis A. married Emma Bouvier with whom he had a daughter Louise. When Francis and Emma died in 1883 and 1885, respectively, Katharine, Elizabeth, and Louise inherited a considerable fortune.

During an audience with Pope Leo XIII in 1886, Katharine asked him to recommend a religious order that worked with Black and Indigenous Americans so that she could donate part of her fortune to their work. He challenged her to become a missionary herself, and she responded by beginning a novitiate with the Sisters of Mercy of Pittsburgh (1889) and then founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People (1891). From then on, Mo. Drexel used her fortune to continue assisting missions and schools in Jamaica and across the US, spending more than $12 million. She died in 1955 and was canonized as a saint in 2000.


0.2 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Abraham J. Emerick, SJ 1918.

Related Materials

Fr. Emerick wrote a series of four articles for the Woodstock Letters entitled “The Colored Mission of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament”: v. 42, pp. 69-82, 175-188 (1913); v. 43, pp. 10-23, 181-198 (1914).

Processing Information

This collection was rehoused into acid-free boxes and folders in January 2024.

Abraham J. Emerick, SJ Papers
Aleksandra Kinlen
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

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