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Virgil H. Barber, SJ Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS008

Scope and Contents

The Virgil H. Barber, SJ Papers contain correspondence, notes, a prayer book, and clippings relating to his Jesuit formation, his work in New England missions, and the conversion of his family to Catholicism.


  • 1804 - 1964


Conditions Governing Access

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 All unpublished Archives materials dated or bearing solely on events occurring on or after January 1, 1940, shall be open for review upon request subject to a decision by the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

Virgil H. Barber (1782-1847) was born to Daniel (1756-1834), an Episcopalian minister, and Chloe Owen Barber (1747-1825) in Claremont (New Hampshire). He was educated at Cheshire Academy and in Springfield (Vermont), entering Dartmouth College in 1801. While in school he was an instructor at Cheshire before being ordained and sent to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Waterbury (Connecticut) as a curate (1805) and later pastor (1807-1814). In 1807 he married Jerusha Booth (1789-1860), with whom he had five children: Mary (1810-1848), Abigail (1811-1880), Susan (1813-1837), Samuel (1814-1864), and Josephine (1816-1887). While living and working at the Episcopalian Academy in Fairfield (New York) between 1814 and 1816, Virgil supposedly discovered a St. Francis Xavier novena booklet that caused him to doubt his Protestant faith.

During a visit to New York in 1816 he discussed a possible conversion to Catholicism with Fr. Benedict Fenwick, which was eventually realized for the entire family later that year. Virgil felt increasingly called to the priesthood after this and, with the support of Fr. Fenwick, the entire family moved to Washington in 1817: Jerusha and her four daughters were to live with the Visitation sisters and Virgil and his son with the Jesuit fathers at Georgetown. He took his first vows alongside Jerusha–who had become Sister Mary Augustine–in 1820 and was ordained in 1822. Fr. Anthony Kohlmann sent Virgil to Claremont to organize a parish, one which eventually became (Old) St. Mary’s.

By 1828 he was briefly in Georgetown before being sent to work with the Penobscot people in Old Town (Maine). Virgil was then at St. John’s College in Frederick (1831-1835), at Conewago (1836-1837, 1841), at Georgetown (1838-1840), at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia (1842), and at Whitemarsh as Superior (1843). He returned to Georgetown as a professor (1844-1846) before dying there in 1847. His three eldest daughters–Mary (Sister Mary Benedicta), Abigail (Sister St. Francis Xavier), and Susan (Sister Mary St. Joseph)–became Ursulines, while Josephine (Sister Mary Josephine) became a Visitandine. His youngest, Samuel, became a Jesuit.


0.4 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials

Multiple languages

Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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

Related Materials

Materials related to Virgil H. Barber, SJ are also housed in the:
Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (box 3 folder 18 and box 157 folder 15)
Woodstock College Archives (box 79)

Processing Information

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

Virgil H. Barber, 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