Tracing the Expansion of Catholicism in the Mid-Nineteenth Century Midwest

This summer and fall, intern Bianca Barcenas is helping analyze and map the rich data on Catholic readers in the 1840s book trade ledger maintained by the Jesuits at St. Louis. In this first post she turns to Catholic almanacs in order to get a sense of the parameters of Midwestern Catholicism during the period covered by the ledger.

Over the summer, I have been digging through copies of the Metropolitan Catholic Almanac (MCA) published in 1841 and 1851 seeking to trace the growth of Catholicism in the Midwest. The MCA was published annually from 1838 to 1861 in Baltimore by Fielding Lucas (and by other publishers after that). It includes information such as feast days, a list of clergymen, and information about each diocese in the United States. Searching the MCA offers not only a look at the expansion of Catholicism through the eyes of Catholics, but also provides insight into the context in which Jesuits of the Missouri Province maintained their trade in books between 1842 and 1850. In this research, I have uncovered where Catholic authorities chose to focus their expansion within each diocese, as well as where across the Midwest as a whole.

List of Catholic Dioceses in the United States in order of founding from the Metropolitan Catholic Almanac (1845)

List of Catholic Dioceses in the United States in order of founding from the Metropolitan Catholic Almanac (1845). Collection of American Antiquarian Society in Sabin Americana.

Mid-nineteenth century Catholic dioceses were named after cities but encompassed whole states. For example, in 1841, the Diocese of Detroit comprised of not just the city of Detroit, but also the entire states of Michigan and Wisconsin. A “Diocesan Map of the United States” (below) prepared for the 1845 MCA visually demonstrates how far Catholicism had spread by that point and also provides a valuable key (above) listing each diocese, when it was incorporated, the territory it covered, and its bishops.

"Diocesan Map of the United States. Prepared for the Catholic Almanac for 1845."

“Diocesan Map of the United States. Prepared for the Catholic Almanac for 1845.” Collection of the American Antiquarian Society in Sabin Americana.

The most striking boundaries in the 1845 map, however, are not state lines but rivers. Transportation by river was key before the introduction of the railroad at mid-century. Each of the dioceses in the Mississippi River Valley is centered along the Mississippi River, or a branch of it. In 1841, nine dioceses were established either on or near the Mississippi River. At its southernmost point, the Diocese of New Orleans sits at the mouth of the river. Going north, the dioceses of Mobile and Natchez contribute to the Catholic scene in the Southern US. The dioceses of Nashville, Bardstown, and St. Louis lie at the center of the Mississippi River’s trail. Finally, the dioceses of Vincennes, Dubuque, and Detroit make up the Catholic population in the northern part of the Midwest, with not just the Mississippi nearby, but also Lake Michigan. The Jesuits enjoyed such a wide market for their book trade because they were centered at St. Louis, and had access to these waterways that led them to other Midwestern dioceses.

Page from the 1841 Metropolitan Catholic Almanac. Image from Hathitrust.

Page from the 1841 Metropolitan Catholic Almanac.

The MCA includes short summaries or snapshots of each diocese. In the diocese lists, the publisher included established churches, the priests that attended them, and all major institutions in the diocese with descriptions. What I have uncovered so far by analyzing the summaries of each Midwestern diocese is that Midwestern Catholicism in 1841 focused much on the expansion of faith and education through the creation of churches, stations, and institutions.

The MCA divides its recapitulation data into the number of churches and stations separately. Churches are gathered congregations with physical buildings dedicated to the practice of the Catholic faith, sometimes with a resident priest attending that parish. Stations, on the other hand, can be thought of as missions, where priests and other clergy members traveled to towns without established parishes in an attempt to teach, administer the sacraments, and lead worship for a period of time before moving on to the next station. Priests in each diocese also played a significant role in expanding Catholic influence. Out of the eight dioceses established in the Mississippi Valley area, only Dubuque had priests visiting less than twenty other stations, as only four stations existed in that diocese. In most dioceses, not only were clergy members attending established churches, but they were also traveling in order to convert those in more rural areas and attend to those who could not travel into towns. Priests physically expanded Catholicism through these stations. Half of the dioceses had an equal number or more of outside stations compared to churches established in the diocese, as shown in the chart below. Reverend Raho of St. Louis, for example, not only attended six churches in the Diocese of St. Louis, but also saw to at least six other stations. This section of the data shows how every diocese values the influence of the Catholic Church even in areas without established parishes. The goal for the Church was growth and conversion in this time.

Chart of churches vs. stations for each Midwestern diocese in 1841. Source: Metropolitan Catholic Almanac.

The number of churches (blue) and stations (orange) for each Midwestern diocese in 1841. (Date of incorporation next to name of each diocese.) Source: Metropolitan Catholic Almanac.

Catholic education was both religious (related to vocations) and literary (related to lay schooling), as many dioceses supported seminaries and convents alongside primary schools, academies, and colleges. These terms come from the almanacs, as they have numbers dedicated to “Religious Communities,” “Literary Institutions,” “Religious Institutions,” and so forth. Theological seminaries and Female Convents were common in many of these dioceses. Colleges, schools, and female academies were popular literary establishments. Female academies, such as the Convent and Academy of the Ladies of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis, were often run by women religious in that particular community. While there are a number of Catholic men’s colleges in 1841, more of the educational influence focused on younger children. More day schools, literary schools for boys, and female academies worked to spread Catholic education than at the college level.

From the data in the 1841 MCA, St. Louis was the clear center of Midwestern Catholicism. Established in 1826, the Diocese of St. Louis started out as the largest diocese in the United States, encompassing all territories west of the Mississippi River, until other dioceses were created from within its borders (Dubuque, Chicago, Little Rock). Catholics established sixty-five churches there, along with sixty stations visited. (This number is only ten less than Bardstown, which had the largest number of stations scattered across the Kentucky countryside). Over seventy total clergymen resided in the diocese, overseeing the two ecclesiastical seminaries, two colleges, ten female academies, eight charitable institutions, four primary schools, and ten convents. With such a spread in terms of institutions and inclusion of rural areas of Missouri and Southern Illinois, the diocese of St. Louis was definitely the center of Midwestern Catholicism at this time. Expansion of the faith seems to have preoccupied newer dioceses more than education, leaving the latter an outlier until the diocese becomes much better established.

After a decade, Catholicism in the Midwest was still growing. Three new dioceses were established in the Mississippi River Valley in 1843 at Milwaukee, Chicago, and Little Rock. These dioceses comprised the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Arkansas, respectively. Instead of being parts of the dioceses of Detroit, Vincennes, and St. Louis, the Catholic population in each of these areas grew enough to warrant an independent diocese. Also, the diocese of Bardstown from the 1841 almanac changed that very year to be the diocese of Louisville, possibly because of larger population growth or even because Louisville is situated along the Ohio River, which branches from the Mississippi.

The number of churches and stations in midwestern dioceses in 1851. Source: Metropolitan Catholic Almanac.

The number of churches (blue) and stations (orange) for each Midwestern dioceses in 1851. Source: Metropolitan Catholic Almanac.

In 1851, stations continue to be key in the expansion of Catholicism in the Midwest. In newer dioceses (those with fewer established churches), stations often outnumber churches. For example, the Diocese of Nashville only had eight churches, but twenty stations. Similarly, the Diocese of Little Rock also maintained eight churches, but clergymen oversaw twelve stations as well. From the 1851 almanac, it appears that the ratio of churches to stations remained similar to that of 1841 (see chart above), however the data is a bit skewed because the dioceses of Vincennes, New Orleans, and Mobile did not include the numbers of stations in the 1851 almanac. Priests still remained key to the expansion of Catholicism in the Midwest, however this growth did not occur evenly across the Mississippi River Valley. The Diocese of Nashville, established in 1837, built one church and saw to twenty stations by 1841. After a decade, the diocese had only built seven new churches and maintained the same number of stations. This is surprising compared to dioceses such as New Orleans or Vincennes, where the number of new churches built over the decade was twenty-six and forty. Unfortunately, the 1841 almanac does not include estimated Catholic populations, so it is hard to say whether or not the growth rates reflected population or other factors.

Schools for various audiences were still being opened and run in significant numbers into 1851. The dioceses of St. Louis and Louisville recorded more educational institutions than any other. There was also an increase in the number of charitable institutions, where Louisville recorded fifteen at the highest amount, compared to St. Louis’ eight in 1841. Numbers are few for religious institutions in most dioceses, however, because much of this data was not included in the 1851 almanac. Only Chicago included numbers for female convents, and Dubuque and St. Louis recorded the number of general religious institutions for 1851.

By 1851, the new dioceses of Chicago and Milwaukee were poised to surpass St. Louis and New Orleans in the number of churches established. With seventy-four and seventy-two churches, respectively, they had grown quickly, while in St. Louis the number of churches decreased from sixty-five to fifty-six. (This was probably caused by the creation of the dioceses of Chicago and Little Rock, as St. Louis used to maintain all of Missouri, as well as Arkansas, and Western Illinois.) However, St. Louis still maintained many schools, academies, and other religious institutions. Other dioceses surpassed St. Louis in numbers of specific types of schools and academies, but St. Louis still ran more institutions overall compared to the other dioceses in the Mississippi Valley. While the diocese of Vincennes documented the most churches (numbering seventy-seven), and New Orleans the largest Catholic population (about 170,000), the dioceses of Milwaukee and Chicago were the centers of Catholic growth in the mid-nineteenth century. Each diocese created a handful of academies, institutions, and communities. The number of churches in the process of building (twenty-nine for Milwaukee, and fifteen for Chicago) was a testament to their commitment to growth and access to faith.

Not only does this data from the MCA reveal the growth of dioceses across the Midwest, it also reveals the diversification of Catholic initiatives. In 1841, the Catholic Church in the United States recorded its growth by the number of churches, stations, and institutions, so the reader could see the end result each year. Ten years later, those numbers were still recorded but contributors also noted the number of churches being built, missions in Native American Territories, and an estimate of the Catholic population in each diocese. In the end, these numbers reveal not only the competition between Catholics and Protestants (who regularly recorded and published their own growth numbers) but also competition within dioceses to prove their development over the years. In all, the Jesuits of the Missouri Province certainly had a rapidly expanding market for their book trade.

Exploring the Catalogus Librorum Alphabeticus Domus Probationis St. Stanislai (1836)

This summer intern María Palacio, a candidate in Loyola’s Master’s in Digital Humanities Program has been studying the earliest surviving library catalog from the Jesuit Seminary in Florissant, Missouri.  This catalog has recently been conserved and made accessible to researchers. Here Maria shares some important insights gained from transcribing the catalog.

Catalog front cover. Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Catalog front cover.
Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Last year, thanks to a grant from Loyola’s Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage, the fragile Catalogus Librorum Alphabeticus Domus Probationis St. Stanislai (Alphabetical Catalog of the Library at the St. Stanislaus House of Studies), was conserved and made accessible to researchers. This 65-page manuscript, begun in 1836, contains the catalog, or more precisely a series of catalogs, for the library of the Jesuit Seminary at Florissant, Missouri. When it was first established in 1823, St. Stanislaus was populated by seven Belgian novices, but it rapidly grew into one of the main centers of the Society of Jesus in the Midwestern United States over the 19th century. By 1870, the Missouri Province Jesuits, who had their origins in the once small Florissant Seminary, founded St. Ignatius College in Chicago. By 1878, St. Ignatius College’s library held approximately 5100 titles, around 6 times more titles than Florissant’s library forty years earlier. Although the Catalogus Librorum is considerably smaller than the original catalog of St. Ignatius, it is hoped that, by studying this earlier catalog, and looking for overlaps in both collections, we can better understand the history of Loyola University’s original library.

However, before we could start comparing both collections, I needed to transcribe the Florissant catalog. Given the fact that the catalog appears to have been written by more than one person, and that some of the pages are written with different ink types or even faded by humidity, this document cannot be read and transcribed by only looking at it once. Therefore, I decided to divide the transcribing process into three stages. In the first stage, which I recently finished, I tried to read and transcribe as much as I could without stopping to think a lot about the fragments that I could not read or that confused me. Instead, I marked all those cases to revisit in a second stage when I have a greater understanding of the documents and more familiarity with the different handwriting styles. Finally, in the third stage, in which I expect to have an almost definitive transcription, I will encode the text in an XML format. This encoding will allow for the better digital preservation of the transcription, and to markup different characteristics of the text: the deletions, the changes in handwriting, the type of ink, the languages, etc.

While it is too soon to compare this catalog with Loyola’s first catalog, I have been able to study this document itself, analyzing its fragments and particularities, and ask a series of questions about book circulation and organization in this Jesuit library in Missouri. By transcribing the catalog I realized that this document is actually composed of several fragments: a “Note for the librarian”, a small Index, a map of the library, a rudimentary borrowing ledger, the Alphabetical Catalog, and a second catalog (the Subject Catalog) created in a different time and by a different person.

“Note for the Librarian,” Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

“Note for the Librarian.”
Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

The “Note for the Librarian” is a short text to help the librarian understand some confusing aspects of the Alphabetical Catalog. We can establish that the “Note” is related to the Alphabetical catalog for two main reasons. First, both are written with the same handwriting and ink type, which could mean that the note was written by the same person. Second, the Alphabetical Catalog employs 7 categories to catalog the books, including Provincia, which classifies the titles by topic, and Locus which designates where the titles must be located in the library. These two categories only exist in the Alphabetical Catalog and are indirectly mentioned in the “Note.” For instance, the “Note” explains how the Locus category works: “Some books being placed behind the others, their place is marked in this catalog thus: 1b, 2b etc to indicate that they are to be found on the 1[s]t or 2[n]d board behind the visible…” By reading this note we can establish that the number in Locus determines the board in which a book was placed. Sometimes, probably for space reasons, a book had to be placed behind other books and it was not visible to the librarian. To solve this problem, the books placed behind are marked with a “b” next to their Locus number in the Alphabetical Catalog. That way, the librarian could find a book in a respective board even if it was not visible. Moreover, in the present, this piece of information can help us to partially understand Florissant’s library organization and limitations. For instance, in the Alphabetical Catalog there is a total of 46 items with this kind of Locus: 23 of books belonging to the Theology Provincia, 19 to the Scholastica, 2 to the History and 2 to Piety. More interestingly, the Provincia and Locus of almost half of these items was modified over the course of time, resulting in the need of the “b” designation to be able to fit them in a different board. This fact could lead to the conclusion that organization of the library was parallel to the creation of the Alphabetical Catalog, and it gave enough space for most of the books in each Locus and Provincia to fit well in their designated boards. However, when the classification of some items changed some space problems appeared resulting in the need to use the “b” designation more often.

Alphabetical Catalog illustrating items marked with a “b” next to their Locus number. Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Alphabetical Catalog illustrating items marked with a “b” next to their Locus number.
Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

I expected that the Index and the map would help me to better picture this library. However, apart from the fact that they appear to be written with the same handwriting, there is not a clear relationship between the Alphabetical Catalog and these segments of the document. We can be certain that the Index and the map are directly related because the categories listed in the first are then explicitly mentioned in the second. Yet, most of the categories mentioned in the Index and the map are not mentioned in the Alphabetical Catalog. While in the map, books appear to be organized in sections named as letters from A to M, in the Alphabetical Catalog books appear to be organized in the library by its Locus number. All these facts make it hard to draw a relationship between the first segments of the document, and the Alphabetical Catalog. Perhaps, since they are both written in pencil, the map and the Index belonged to an earlier or later cataloguing project.

Map of the St. Stanislaus Library. Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Map of the St. Stanislaus Library.
Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Once I transcribed the Alphabetical Catalog, I realized that it was an intriguing document. The fact that is written in cursive and organized into tables, points out it was conceived to be an official catalog, and not just a temporary list of books and where to find them. There is an effort of classifying the books alphabetically by author (or barring that, title) and by topic (using the Provincia category), as well as an attempt to keep record of the location, format, physical condition, and price of the books held by the library.

However, in this document we can also find traces of usage like annotations, marks, and deletions, made with different ink types and sometimes with a different handwriting. For instance, the category Provincia, in which books and documents are classified by its topic (theology, piety, history, etc.), appears to be a continuous source of hesitation, especially when dealing with titles directly related with the Society of Jesus. Apparently, when the catalog was created all of the books related with the Society of Jesus, or written by one of its members, were listed under the Provincia IHS, the christogram used as the symbol for the Society of Jesus. However, at some point, someone, maybe a different librarian, decided to eliminate IHS as a classificatory topic and reorganize all the titles that appeared under that Provincia under other classifications. There were 47 entries of the catalog classified as IHS and, since the classification in Provincia affects the one in Locus, its elimination must have had implied a big change on the library’s organization.

Changes in Provincia in the Alphabetical Catalog. Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Changes in Provincia in the Alphabetical Catalog.
Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Another trace of usage, that shows how this collection and the library’s organization changed over the course of time are the series of deletions and annotations that appear on the catalog. Often items are crossed out. This implies that those items stopped being part of the collection of the library. Since there is not a date accompanying the deletion, we cannot know when items stopped being part of the collection. However, sometimes, the crossed out items have a note next to them specifying that they were given away and to whom. This fact reveals to us that this collection circulated outside the Seminary. Is it possible then that some of the books of the collection ended up being part of Loyola’s first library? At this point, we cannot answer many of these questions. However, we can be certain that the library and its catalog were not static entities, and that they were constantly modified by human interactions.

Subject Catalog. Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Subject Catalog.
Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Around ten percent of the Alphabetical Catalog is currently crossed out. That made me think that, at some point, there appeared the need to rewrite and actualize the catalog. That could answer why the segment of the Alphabetical Catalog is followed by another catalog clearly written by another person and in a different time. The second catalog, or Subject Catalog, is considerably shorter and has a very different cataloguing approach, but it is very likely that it addressed the same collection than the Alphabetical Catalog, because there is an overlap of more than ninety percent of the titles between the catalogs. The main difference between the catalogs is that the Subject Catalog is not organized alphabetically, but in chapters by subject: the Sacred Scriptures (Bibles and the books or texts that analyze them) and Ecclesiastical history (texts about the expansion of Christianity, Catholic history, Jesuit history, etc).

This catalog seems to leave out all the titles that are not directly related with the Christian faith, and that were part of the collection of the Library in Florissant like dictionaries, grammar books, books about history and medicine, literature classics, etc. One possible explanation for the missing items in this catalogue is that it was never completed. However, this hypothesis seems unlikely if we take into account that the Subject Catalog has numerous traces of usage like deletions and posterior annotations. A more plausible explanation could be that some pages of this Subject Catalog are lost. We already know that the manuscript we have our hands is not complete because the section of the titles starting with the letter “C” is missing from the Alphabetical Catalog. Therefore it is not unlikely that some pages from the Subject Catalog are missing too. Furthermore, the Index and the map of the library could actually be related to the Subject Catalog and support the idea that some pages of this catalog are lost. The Index is not divided in chapters, but it is clearly divided in sections that could represent chapters. The first section lists topics like Scripture, Canon, Philosophy and Controversy which are also the topics of the books listed in the first chapter of the Subject Catalog. Moreover, the second and third sections of the Index, which lists topics such as Sermons, and Lives of the Saints also correspond with the titles listed in Chapters 2 and 3 of the Subject Catalog. The Index has four more sections that list topics like Literature, Classics, and Languages, but, since the Subject Catalog we have ends in Chapter 3, we cannot confirm if there were parallels between the rest of the Index and the possible missing pages of the Subject Catalog.

Since the Index seemed to be related to the Subject Catalog, and the map of the library is certainly related to the Index, I tried to find a relationship between the map and the Subject Catalog. However, apart from the fact that in both documents books seem to be organized in the library by letters, I could not find a clear relationship between them. While in the map books are organized in sections from A to M, in the Subject Catalog we can find books with Littteras like “O” and “S”, which are not included in the map. Moreover, in the map, letter sections are organized by topics (for instance, the books placed in the “G” section are related to English, French, and German languages), but this topics do not correspond with the topics of the books under the Littera “G” in the Subject Catalog , where we can find titles like Concordantia Bibliorum and Notitia ecclesiastica per Cabassutium. Therefore, we cannot establish a clear relationship between the Index and map and the Subject Catalog and we can not use the information in these pages to confirm the incompleteness of the Subject Catalog.

Even if the Subject Catalog is incomplete, it can still be an useful complement to the study of the Florissant’s collection, because it gives information that the Alphabetical Catalog omits. Since it is already organized by topics, the Subject Catalog eliminates the Provincia category. It also replaces the Locus category for a category called Littera (which uses letters instead of numbers to determine the placement or a book within the library) and records the year of publication, place of origin, format, and number of volumes. This latter information is very useful from a History of the Book perspective, because it allows us to better understand the origin of the items. Moreover, the introduction of the year category allows us to determine the probable date of creation of the Subject Catalog. For instance, we can establish that it must have been written at least ten years after the Alphabetical Catalog, because it contains items from years after 1836. With the information on the catalog we can also estimate that it was created around the year 1846, because there are no books from any year after 1846.

This fact could lead us to conclude that, after 10 years of usage, the Alphabetical Catalog was replaced by the Subject Catalog. But why? I already mentioned that around 10% of the Alphabetical Catalog is crossed out, and that in the Subject Catalog we can find titles that do not appear in the Alphabetical Catalog. However, are this changes enough to create a new catalog with a very different approach to the collection? Why did they did not create a new copy of the Alphabetical Catalog instead of a brand new type catalog that implied a whole reorganization of the collection? And, moreover, can we be certain that the Alphabetical Catalog was completely replaced by the Subject Catalog?

Borrowing list from 1852. Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Borrowing list from 1852.
Collection of Jesuit Archives, Central United States

Previously I mentioned there is a segment of the Catalogus Librorum composed by a series of informal lists of books lent from the library. This pages could be considered a rudimentary borrowing ledger. I say rudimentary because the 11 pages that contain lists of books lent from the library do not have the same organization system or contain the same kind of information: some of them just contain a segment of the title that was borrowed followed by a name, while others are more organized tables that also contain the date in which the title was lent. However, most of this pages appear to be written by the same person who wrote the Alphabetical Catalog, which is odd if we take into account that the date of February 1852 appears in one of them. Moreover, in that same list we can find books that do not appear in the pages we have of the Subject Catalog like a Latin Grammar and a book by Virgil. Could this list help us prove that some pages of the Subject Catalog are lost? Or, could this mean that the Alphabetical Catalog, which appears to be written by the same person that the lists of the borrowing ledger, was still used by 1852? Was the author of the Alphabetical Catalog the librarian of the Florissant collection and, for that reason, his handwriting appears in documents from 1852 when the Alphabetical Catalog had been replaced? We can not answer any of these questions with total certainty, but at least we can be sure that the Catalogus Librorum Alphabeticus Domus Probationis St. Stanislai is an intriguing document that will not only allow us to compare the collections of the library in Florissant with Loyola’s first library, but also to study issues of cataloguing practices and book circulation in other Jesuit libraries.

Building an Interpretation of the World: Mary Louise Pratt and the Dangers of Travel Writing

Sophomore Mark Neuhengen returns with another post about his project to study travel literature in the original St. Ignatius College Library catalog. Here he reflects on how the work of a leading scholar of travel literature, Mary Louise Pratt, helps him think about the issues around his own research topic.

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One of Bayard Taylor’s many titles in the original library collection of St. Ignatius College.

When I first starting looking at the St. Ignatius College’s collection of travel literature, I felt that I proved J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic words, “Not all those who wander are lost,” wrong. Wandering through titles ranging from Washington Irving’s The Adventures of Capt. Bonneville, U.S.A. in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West to Bayard Taylor’s Egypt and Iceland in 1874, I felt that I was very much lost. Travel literature seemed such a diverse and expansive genre to the point where any book with a character on a journey could qualify! This overwhelming feeling was quickly allayed after reading the brilliantly written Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation by Mary Louise Pratt.

Throughout her book, Pratt explores how the writings of European explorers created an image of foreign lands that shaped the popular imagination. Pratt’s book is divided by era into three parts. She begins by analyzing scientists who worked between 1750 and 1800. Where previous generations had focused on oceanic exploration in their efforts at circumnavigation of the earth, this new group shifted their attention to interior exploration and laid the foundation for the modern travel literature movement. In the second part, Pratt discusses explorers in the first half of the 19th century who increasingly popularized a new planetary consciousness that reinvented whole regions of the globe, but typically on European terms. She concludes her book by investigating 20th century travel literature and the tropes they utilized. Since the books contained in the St. Ignatius College library were published prior to the 20th century, the first two parts of Pratt’s book were the most useful.

The work of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) inspired generations of scientists to explore the world.

The work of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) inspired generations of scientists to explore the world. Source: Wikimedia.

Pratt begins with Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), who the reader might remember from biology class as the scientist who developed an expansive classification system for all living organisms (Homo Sapiens, Bradypus variegatus, Solanum tuberosum). His system, laid out in Systema Naturae (1735), inspired many scientists to set out to categorize the world. These scientists traveled the globe and wrote about the places and things they saw albeit in a scientific context. In other words, the work of these scientists contained descriptions of locations and people, but these descriptions were told in a highly scientific manner. This work, however, created lasting problems. Linnaeus’ students categorized not only beavers and pine trees, but also decided to “categorize” different groups of humans! The categorization charts of these scientists reveal their Eurocentric prejudice: they proclaim the White European governed by laws as the pinnacle of the human species. Encountering and observing people of other races and ethnicities, they assumed them to be driven by emotions or customs instead of law, placing them below the European ideal. While it is easy for people today to look back upon these scientists and condemn them for their bigotry, I believe it is important to take note of their historical context. Being trained in the sciences, these explorers were taught to look at their environments as categories. One should also their note the cultural context in which they were taught. In their post-Enlightenment world, these scientists saw their society as governed by laws, but the people they encountered in other parts of the world had not experienced the same burst of philosophical thought, and subsequently were not seen as governed by the same laws. These writers were not able to move away from their historical context, and subsequently created a hierarchy of humanity.

It would make sense for a scientific endeavor to kick off the age of travel literature. The scientific drive to understand and explain the natural world would be the perfect catalyst to set off this new “Age of Exploration.” Due to the Scientific Revolution, science was becoming a force of change. The racial problems created by Linnaeus’ work bring up an important point that has implications in many fields of study. It is disturbing that the “objective” system of science pushed individuals to create something, in hindsight, as subjective as a racial hierarchy. I find it important to consider that science is another tool of fallible humans that subsequently makes science vulnerable to grievous error. This error subsequently affected the travel literature of later time periods by creating the racial hierarchies mentioned earlier. With the supposedly objective system of science backing them up, future explorers would travel to new places with the idea of superiority already engrained into their thinking. I believe that this potentially created a vicious cycle in which new explorers reiterated the racial hierarchies to their audiences.

An example of the "objective" classification systems designed by scientists inspired by Linnaeus. Source:

An example of the “objective” classification systems designed by scientists inspired by Linnaeus. Source: William & Mary University, Institute for Historical Biology

Alexander von Humboldt was one of the 19th century's most popular travel writers. Source: Wikimedia.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was one of the 19th century’s most popular travel writers. Source: Wikimedia.

I find the phenomena of the travel literature creating the image of foreign lands in the minds of native-born Europeans to be fascinating. In a world without extensive media, it is almost mind blowing to consider that these travel books would be the only exposure to these lands that Europeans would experience. In the contemporary period, if one wanted to learn about the Great Pyramids of Giza one could easily find thousands of online articles and photographs. This is not a privilege shared by those in the 19th century who would have to wait for a travel writer to write a book on the pyramids. Pratt explores the very real consequences of explorers’ framing lands in specific ways. For example, the Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) traveled extensively throughout Latin America and subsequently wrote about his journeys. It is important to note that Humboldt was working within the Romantic era, which emphasized the emotional aspects of existence. This and other reasons influenced his decision to describe Latin America as “primal.” While Humboldt extensively described the minerals, plants, and trees, he barely mentioned the inhabitants of the land. As a result, he opened the door for two general categories of explorers. One was the romantic explorer who traveled there for more or less sentimental reasons to experience the destinations in all of their “primal” glory and majesty. The other was the capitalist who saw every tree and mineral as product to extract and sell. Thus, these images of the world could be disastrous in the hands of tourists and capitalists who knew Latin America only as a land of valuable minerals instead of a land of diverse and beautiful cultures.

Everyone believes that his or her interpretation of the world is the correct one. European explorers ended up creating an image of the world, while true in their eyes, which did not reflect the actual reality of the lands they visited for the people who lived there. It is also fascinating that the images constructed by the explorers, many of which revolved around racial stereotypes, end up contradicting themselves. Pratt explores how Mary Kingsley portrayed the Congo as a place of wonder and excitement. “Kingsley depicts herself discovering her swamps not by looking down at them or even walking around them, but by sloshing zestfully through them in a boat or up to her neck in water and slime, swathed in thick skirts and wearing her boots continuously for weeks on end,” Pratt writes (p.209). But such an image of the Congo does not mesh well with Joseph Conrad’s description of the Congo as a dangerous and harsh environment in The Heart of Darkness.

A final point to notice in Pratt’s work is that there were female explorers in this time period. When one thinks of historic explorers he or she probably is reminded of famous names such as Christopher Columbus and Francisco Pizzaro. These explorers are typically male. One can also look at popular fictional explorers, such as Indiana Jones, and again see the archetype of the male explorer. While this image still is powerful in the popular imagination, it is important to note that there were also female explorers. English traveller Maria Graham (1785-1842) wrote extensively about her travels through South America and the Indian subcontinent, and the half-Peruvian Flora Tristan (1803-1844) wrote about Peru and poor areas of Europe. Pratt explains how the viewpoints of female travellers differed from their male counterparts, but does not believe that there was generally a single “feminine” perspective in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travel literature. Through learning about these female explorers, my original hypothesis, that women were not traveling, was proved false. I had based this upon my first examination of the library’s catalog. While the St. Ignatius College library did not feature travel books written by female authors, there were women writing about their travels during the same time period. So why are female travel writers not to be found in this Jesuit college library? This question requires further research.

Following my reading of this book, I will now be going through the titles book by book so that I can categorize them by the period in which they were written, their date of publishing, and the motivation of the author for travelling (such as going on a pilgrimage, scientific exploration, or commercial mission). Finding the motivation of the author may be the most daunting aspect because nearly a third of the titles are in French, a language in which I am not fluent. While the language barrier may be difficult, I never let anything get in the way of learning something new.

It seems that I am not wandering and lost any more! Through reading Pratt’s book, I have learned much about the nature of modern travel literature and its historical roots. By exploring how the predominantly white, male Europeans ended up developing the image of foreign lands in the minds of their fellow Europeans, I believe that I have come to appreciate the real consequences books can have. What might this have meant for the Jesuits of St. Ignatius College who were educating their students in a rapidly growing city full of immigrants. It would be important for them to create a strong identity for the students in relationship to other groups in the world. What effect did the travel literature in the St. Ignatius College library have on this process of identity formation? Moving forward I am excited to look at each book and learn why the author decided put his pen to paper – and what the repercussions of that might be for his audience on the west side of Chicago in the late nineteenth century.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum

In the second installment of CCIH Fellow Gustav Roman and intern Roman Krasnitsky’s research into heretical books in the original library collection at St. Ignatius College, Roman looks at the presence of two copies of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in the collection and their significance over time.

“Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.” – George Bernard Shaw

The nineteenth century’s mammoth surge of Papal Encyclicals concerned with the devilish workings of conspiracy, sabotage, heresy, and the reactive necessity of censorship from the Catholic Church presents an interesting backdrop for the building of the St. Ignatius College library. In trying to understand the ideas that would be classified as heretical in a Jesuit college’s library, we discover no easy path in coming to a sound definition grounded in historical Catholic understandings of general literary and theological indecency.

Where the Encyclicals give us an easy sense of context in theory, what was done with them in practice is less clear. We know by looking today that our excerpts of Papal authority on the matter of censorship are not proud moments for the church—it seems to be an era of deeply realized but unfocused Church hysteria. Our question is how these missives from the global church were received on a local level.

The Encyclicals directed at the censorship of particular content in books are never wholly limited to that. They are often interested in such a variety of fears that it’s hard to see what nineteenth-century Jesuit faculty and students would make of them; not that a piece of rather hysteric intrigue directed at uncovering plots made by dastardly Prussian bishops wouldn’t have interest, but it may not be a directly preached social reality to anyone in an American Jesuit college in 1870 in the heart of a growing metropolitan landscape. This would be a question for the Bishop of area. Bishops were the real means of distribution for Encyclicals, based on varying levels of importance found in the place where they are stationed. Just as Bishops today empathize or underplay various statements from the Vatican, so, too, did Bishops have the authority to do so then. Unlike today, however, in 1870 clear alternative means of distribution for those who sought it out did not so easily exist.

Cover of the 1870 edition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum given by the Missouri Province to St. Ignatius College.

Cover of the 1870 edition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum given by the Missouri Province to St. Ignatius College. Collection of Loyola University Libraries.

The clearest framework and tangible point of reference in trying to understand a Catholic worldview of limited literary intake and the harsh didactic language of the harmful repercussions of these “books which openly oppose the teaching of Christ” would rest in the reception of the fittingly titled Index Librorum Prohibitorum (translating eloquently to the List of Prohibited Books). At least this would seem to be the case. The book gives us exactly the clear hard facts that the Encyclicals themselves were often blurry on. That is to say, it tells good Catholics what they should not read. A dry, seemingly never quite exhaustive—even if exhausting—Latin text of well over 350 pages of small-font print by 1870, the Index stated title upon title, from Immanuel Kant to Martin Luther to the ominous sounding independent titles like The Spirit of Popery.

The Index had been in the works well since the ninth century, as early Christian tradition shows us, in unofficial productions of lists restricting various blasphemous or simply untrusted texts. Drafts were produced until the 1559 appearance of Pope Paul IV’s clear incarnation known as the Pauline Index. A slight refinement during the Council of Trent produced the more relaxed (in the inquisitional definition) and fittingly titled, Tridentine Index. It aimed to clear up any controversy produced by Paul’s draft. Twenty different editions appeared up until 1966 when the gigantic list ceased to be added to and was never again republished.

Much scholarship has been done on the Index to show its evolution and the patterns in how it grew, as well as who added the most. Our question for the Index by the time of 1870, within its last century of existence, is just how relevant it was to the library and what it can tell us about the definition of heretical texts. Two editions of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1841 and 1870) resided on the shelves of the library of St. Ignatius College. We know from the surviving 1870 edition that it was gifted to the college by the Missouri Province, the Jesuits who founded St. Ignatius and, at the time, oversaw most of the schools and houses in the middle portion of the country.

In the c.1878 catalog, the two editions of the Index were shelved with other "miscellaneous" titles like The Magician's Own Book (1857). Image from Hathitrust.

In the c.1878 catalog, the two editions of the Index were shelved with other “miscellaneous” titles like The Magician’s Own Book (1857). Image from Hathitrust.

The surviving 1870 copy is clean and undamaged. No marginalia reveal the thoughts of Jesuit commentators or anyone else. There is no apparent evidence of it being checked out extensively or closely read by any possible librarians or censors. What exists in the library is a tightly bound and only slightly age-worn work in which the large list of titles stretches well across pages and pages of text. The work itself was not easily dealt with by anyone, or so it would seem. It was placed on a shelf of seeming misfit titles, sandwiched between books like Excelsior, or, Essays on Politeness, Education, and the Means of Attaining Success in Life (1873), The Elements of Tachygraphy (1874), and The Magician’s Own Book, or The Whole Art of Conjuring (1857). Not even considering the possible heretical fit that the final title could stir, the library appeared not only to be unsure of where to place the Index, but also seem not to have been phased by its very existence.

Likely displayed on library shelves more as a reference tool, or a gesture of outward piety and obedience towards the Province, the Index gives a sense of infallible authority shelved amongst oddities and superstition. Not that 1870 gives us a golden age, if you will, for the Index. Papal shifts find this and the years leading up to it as quieter times in the Catholic discourse on censorship. Although a reason for this shelving of the book can just as easily be placed toward the internal reason of Jesuitical rebellion, another reason could just as easily be from the Vatican itself. The very language of censorship as a main focus had calmed down drastically by 1870, with the Papacy of Pius IX focused more on housekeeping than possible conspiracy. The harshest of his 16 Encyclicals to a modern reader is likely Levate, which deals with affliction in the Church and harshly condemns the secular, governmental college—something St. Ignatius escaped.

Still unclear is how Bishops and Provincials interacted with and how a rising college navigated these patterns of Papal thought. In the face of professors’ orders, librarians’ meddling, and students’ desires, how might the Jesuits have possibly challenged the constructs of censorship to produce such a well-rounded library? These questions remain as we further explore these modes of textual interaction. The Index Librorum Prohibitorum gives us an exhaustive list of heretical candidates, but our question coming out of this is what the library considered to be heresy and obscenity in the face of this seeming dismissal—intentional or otherwise—of such an authoritative source.

The Letter of the Law

Over the course of the semester, Erik Berner has been researching the books in the Legislation section of the St. Ignatius College library catalog to determine if the Jesuits intended to found a law school in the 1870s. In a previous post he concluded they did not have the books to do so in 1870. In wanting to understand why the Loyola Law School was founded nearly forty years later in 1909, he looked at the motivations of another Jesuit school, Marquette University in Milwaukee, in founding its law school for inspiration. Since that post, Loyola’s Assistant University Archivist Ashley Howdeshell brought a very interesting letter to Erik’s notice …  

Since my initial research and blog post on the history of Loyola’s law school, I have found, at the recommendation of Ashley Howdeshell, Assistant University Archivist at Loyola, a helpful book entitled, The First 100 Years: The Centennial History of Loyola University Chicago School of Law by Thomas M. Haney, detailing the history of Loyola’s law school. In 1906, the Trustees of what was then St Ignatius College considered expansion of the college into a university after thirty-six years of established success among the immigrant population of Chicago. A group of Catholics practicing law in Chicago (two of them graduates of St. Ignatius and another a graduate of Georgetown’s law school) approached President Henry J. Dumbach, S.J. and the Trustees about founding a law school as the first professional school in the expansion. Below is a copy of the letter that they sent to the Trustees. The request was unanimously approved.

These ambitious lawyers were ready to establish the law school immediately in 1906, but St. Ignatius had already begun classes for the year. It was also at the start of a period of transition that would lead to the renaming of the institution as Loyola University in 1909 and the transfer of the college from Roosevelt Road to Rogers Park in 1912. Rather than immediately establishing itself as the Loyola University Department of Law (which it would be re-christened upon its incorporation into the university in 1909), the institution opened in September 1908 as the Lincoln College of Law, the first law school in the United States named after Abraham Lincoln. Classes were, much as at Marquette, offered at night at the new school’s surprisingly prime location near City Hall and the Cook County Courthouse. The new law school catered to working Catholics and immigrants who could not receive an education at the exclusive Northwestern or University of Chicago. Though what would eventually become the DePaul University College of Law had been in operation (as Illinois College of Law) since 1897, it was not incorporated into DePaul until 1912, making the Loyola University Department of Law the first Catholic law school in the city of Chicago.

Letter to Fr. Dumbach requesting a Law School, page 1 date original: January 13, 1906 date digital: May 2016 Loyola University Chicago Archives and Special Collections. Vice President's Diary of St. Ignatius College. page 171-172. Scanned at 600 dpi color

Letter to Fr. Dumbach requesting a Law School (13 January 1906), page 1
Courtesy of Loyola University Chicago Archives and Special Collections. Vice President’s Diary of St. Ignatius College. page 171-172.

Letter to Fr. Dumbach requesting a Law School, page 2 date original: January 13, 1906 date digital: May 2016 Loyola University Chicago Archives and Special Collections. Vice President's Diary of St. Ignatius College. page 171-172. Scanned at 600 dpi color

Letter to Fr. Dumbach requesting a Law School, page 2
Courtesy of Loyola University Chicago Archives and Special Collections. Vice President’s Diary of St. Ignatius College. page 171-172.

Exploring Travel Literature at a Jesuit College

A plate from volume 5 of Heinrich Barth's Travels and discoveries in North and Central Africa (London, 1857-58)

A plate from volume 5 of Heinrich Barth’s Travels and discoveries in North and Central Africa (London, 1857-58)

This summer rising sophomore Mark Neuhengen will be studying travel literature in the original St. Ignatius College Library catalog. Mark is double majoring in History and Religious Studies with minors in Islamic World Studies and Arabic Language and Culture. He is excited to join the JLPP team and to learn all he can about how nineteenth-century Europeans and Americans saw and wrote about other nations.

Ernest Hemingway, that icon of American literature, once said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” A quick overview of the “Travels” section of the c.1878 St. Ignatius College library catalog reveals a plethora of amazing and meaningful journeys. By looking at the destinations found in the titles, one can imagine the sights these European explorers must have seen in person, and readers experienced vicariously. One can only begin to imagine how explorers accustomed to the European and American countryside felt about exploring such exotic (to them) new lands as Palestine, China, Central Africa, and Iceland.

While one can detect a sense of romanticism and adventure through the titles, one also anticipates the negative sentiments these authors might have held as indicated by their harsh and racist terminology. It is hard for me not to cringe a little at titles such as The Lands of the Saracens: or Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, Spain and Wah-to-yah, and the Taos trail: or Prairie-Travel and Scalp Dances. While we might find this language outdated and derogatory today, I believe that it is an important window into the mindset of nineteenth-century world travelers. It will be interesting to learn about how European and American explorers and missionaries saw people who they deemed “non-western.” In my opinion, to learn how Europeans and Americans saw the “other” in the nineteenth century can help us learn about how the “other” changes throughout history. What was deemed the “other” in nineteenth-century America may not be the same at twenty-first century America, but we might be able to take what we learned from nineteenth-century Americans and Europeans and apply it to studying today’s “other.”

Another important thing I picked up from the book list is the lack of female voices. Whether this is due to the patriarchal nature of nineteenth-century society or the lack of women on these travels will only be discovered out through more research. If I had to guess the reason why there are no women writers, I would say that it was because they did not travel. Using the little preliminary knowledge I have, I would assume that husbands would be wary of bringing their wives to faraway and potentially dangerous locations. This sentiment towards women can be seen as a sign of the patriarchy. I am usually against broad generalizations, so it may be possible that the Jesuits did not collect the writings of female explorers. The reason for this may relate to St. Ignatius College originally being a men’s college, and the Jesuits wished the students to be familiar with male literature. In light of this, I’m interested to see how these predominantly male explorers portrayed foreign women. Did the same societal conventions shape their view? One can relate this back to the study of “the other” mentioned earlier.

A final aspect that I found enjoyable in the catalog was the inclusion of familiar American authors. Throughout the section I found works by Washington Irving, Henry David Thoreau, and Lewis and Clark. It is interesting that even by 1878 these authors were already becoming classic authors. While I am not familiar with him at the writing of this blog, the name Bayard Taylor appears nine times in a row. He should be someone to keep researching.

A plate from Bayard Taylor's A Visit to India, China, and Japan, in the year 1853 (New York, 1872)

A plate from Bayard Taylor’s A Visit to India, China, and Japan, in the year 1853 (New York, 1872)

I believe that the Travels section of the library catalog will be an interesting one to research over the next few months. I have a feeling that it will be intriguing to see how these European and American travelers saw their world. It should also be fascinating to see what they felt was important to include and to ruminate on what they felt was unimportant. In general, I hope you will join me on my adventure into the world of nineteenth-century explorers and missionaries — and the teachers and students at a Jesuit College that read about them!

Ancient Irish Histories

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we are reprinting a post about a rather anti-Irish book from the blog of Jim Naughton ‘15, who was a JLPP intern in the summer of 2014. Jim is now enrolled in Loyola’s Law School.

Another great book has surfaced in Loyola’s University Archives and Special Collections that raises some interesting questions about authorship, provenance, and readership. The book, Ancient Irish Histories, includes the work of four separate authors complied and edited by Sir James Ware.

Front cover of the 1809 reprint of the 1633 first edition of Sir James Ware's Ancient Irish Histories.

Front cover of the 1809 reprint of the 1633 first edition of Sir James Ware’s Ancient Irish Histories.

So who was Sir James Ware and why did he decide to take the time to compile and edit this set of Irish histories? Ware was born in 1594 in Dublin to a British administrator (also named James Ware) who served as a Secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland and later as an MP (Member of Parliament). Due to his father’s high position in government, Ware attended Trinity College studying Latin and Greek as well as gaining an interest in Irish history. After college, Ware began a political career but still tried to publish scholarly tracts, a process that was interrupted by violent conflicts that erupted in Ireland and Britain.

This conflict was known as the War of Three Kingdoms. (In the Irish theatre of the war, it was more commonly known as the Eleven Years’ War.) For more detailed information on the War of Three Kingdoms you can visit the BBC who published a concise and interesting article on the War. So what side did Ware fall on during this conflict? He supported James Butler, the 1st Duke of Ormond, who fought for the British monarchy against the various other factions in Ireland. For a fuller account of Ware’s life and his activities during the War of Three Kingdoms follow this link.

Sir James Ware (1594-1666)

Sir James Ware (1594-1666)

We now know that Ware supported a Duke, who in turn supported the British government against the Irish. Now we have to ask ourselves: what were the other authors attitudes towards Ireland? Did Ware’s stance bias his version of Ireland’s history?

Edmund Spenser, author of A View of the State of Ireland, was an English poet who moved to Ireland to serve English nobility. Spenser was notably opposed to the Irish and argued that it would take the destruction of Irish language and customs to put Ireland under England’s rule. Alongside Spenser’s works were the works of St. Edmund Campion S.J., author of A History of Ireland, which was “written from an English standpoint it gave much offence to the native Irish, and was severely criticized…” (from the Catholic Encyclopedia)

Meredith Hanmer and Henry of Marlborough are both included in Ware’s Ancient Irish Histories but their views are not as clear as Spenser’s and Campion’s. However, it is obvious that Ware’s history has a fair amount of British bias and an interesting story behind why Ware would pick these particular authors of Irish history.

How did this book made it to Loyola? Perhaps you can help us answer that question by making sense of the inscription below:

Inscription on the flyleaf of Loyola's copy of Ware's Ancient Irish Histories. It looks like an address, but where?

Inscription on the flyleaf of Loyola’s copy of Ware’s Ancient Irish Histories. It looks like an address, but where?

Finally, who would have been interested in this title when it was brought to Loyola? This book could have been used in a history class centering around Ireland, but do you think the professors at Loyola would have used a book that has this sort of bias? Perhaps this book was used and some of the inflammatory remarks found in its pages were meant to spark discussion? What do you think this book was used for and who do you think would have checked this book out?

Want to read a copy of Ware’s book for yourself? There is a copy available on Hathitrust for free. Click here.

Did the Jesuits intend to found a law school in 1870?

This is the second post in Senior English and History major Erik Berner’s series on his research into the Legislation division of the original St. Ignatius College library catalog this semester.

First annual banquet of the Lincoln College of Law, St. Ignatius College. Held at the Great Northern Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, on February 12, 1909. Collection of Loyola University Chicago Archives and Special Collections.

First annual banquet of the Lincoln College of Law, St. Ignatius College. Held at the Great Northern Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, on February 12, 1909. Students at Loyola had to wait nearly forty years after the 1870 founding for a law school. Collection of Loyola University Chicago Archives and Special Collections.

So far, based on my research, I believe that upon the establishment of St. Ignatius College in 1870, the Jesuits had no intention of establishing what we would call today a law school. In order to understand why this is, I had to delve into the history of legal education in the United States. Key to my conclusion about the Jesuits initial intentions are three major threads: the state of law education prior to 1870 (both the year Loyola was founded and the year that marked the start of Harvard Law School’s method of “modern” legal education), the subsequent development of more modern and professionalized modes of legal education, and the history of Loyola’s own law school (which was eventually founded in 1908). The parallel founding of a law school at fellow Jesuit university Marquette in Milwaukee can help us conjecture the purposes of Loyola’s law school when it was finally established.

Prior to 1870, law schools as we know them know, as entities affiliated with universities, were very few. The major method of legal education was through the apprenticeship system, which often produced lawyers of dubious quality. Apprentice standards and reading lists were far from standardized and bar admission officers were often more concerned with granting favors to their friends than with the quality of the lawyers they admitted to the bar. Supplementing this were some startup law schools of various educational methods not associated with universities and not required for admittance to the bar, as well as lectureships on legal issues at established colleges and universities that often served more to prepare students to proverbially “not sound like an idiot” when talking about law than to actually train lawyers. It was in 1870 that Christopher Columbus Langdell instituted his influential case method of instruction at Harvard, revitalizing the professional school within the university with a new pedagogical approach devoted to the production of lawyers trained on case precedents in the classroom rather than in the courtroom.

Reactions to, and variations of, this mode would be integral in the subsequent founding of many other law schools around the country. Some were founded with the intention of being part of a university while others would later be subsumed by one. While St. Louis University’s law school dated back to 1843 and Georgetown launched its law school in 1870, the Jesuits in Chicago appear to have been focused on liberal arts education instead. It is likely that their collection of secular and canon law was more for their own philosophical and educational use; Jesuits are notorious for their desire to learn everything about everything, and teach it as well.

The next question that I would ask about Loyola’s law school, founded when St Ignatius College became Loyola University in 1908, is what caused the Jesuits to wish to create it then? It is helpful to look to the north. The Jesuits were doing the same thing at the same time in Milwaukee. In 1908, Marquette also became a university, with a law school being established. Both Loyola and Marquette’s schools were primarily night schools at first. According to Hugh C. MacGill and R. Kent Newmyer, Marquette’s law school was established to give often poor ethnic Catholics from Milwaukee a legal education (albeit, one that was viewed less favorably by the Anglo establishment) which was refused to them by the rural University of Wisconsin. The next step in my research about the history of Loyola’s law school will be to decide whether I think the same dynamic was happening in Chicago, in reaction to different influential Anglo-Protestant schools, Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Complicating Loyola’s perceived parallel to Marquette is the existence of the Illinois College of Law at the time, which would, in 1912, be subsumed by DePaul. I hope to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the two by the time I am done with my research.

Want to learn more? Helpful readings include Robert Bocking Stevens’s Law School: Legal Education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983) and Hugh C. MacGill and R. Kent Newmyer’s essay, “Legal Education and Legal Thought, 1790-1920,” in the Cambridge History of Law in America Volume 2: The Long Nineteenth Century (1789–1920) ed. Michael Grossberg and Christopher L. Tomlins (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 36-67. You can also find a short timeline history of the Loyola School of Law here.

The Benziger Bibliothek: One Book in the Mississippi Valley

Ramonat Scholar and JLPP intern Dan Snow delves into the curious history of one of the many hundreds of books listed in the 1840s Jesuit booktrade ledger that he and Brendan Courtois have been working on this year.

On February 25th, Heinz Nauer from the University of Lucerne gave a talk on the international reach of the Benziger publishing house at KU Leuven. Benziger was one of the nineteenth-century’s major international Catholic publishing houses. It was based then in Einsiedeln, Switzerland (though they still operate today, they are based in Cincinnati). In our work with the 1840s St. Louis book trade ledger, we have encountered Benziger numerous times. In light of Mr. Nauer’s talk last week, I decided to look into the dealings the St. Louis Jesuits had with Benziger.

From January 1843 to June 1849, the Jesuits placed seven orders with the firm. These sales are attributed in the ledger to Nicholas and Charles Benziger, sons of company’s founder Joseph Charles. Though there are not many orders throughout the ledger, each one is significant, often times taking many pages to cover and costing hundreds of dollars. The largest order was the first one, placed in January of 1843.

A typical work published by Benziger in 1910, though the name “Benziger Brothers” suggests the company was then named after Nicholas and Charles (Image: PaxHouse)

A typical work published by Benziger in 1910, though the name “Benziger Brothers” suggests the company was then named after Nicholas and Charles (Image: PaxHouse)

This order took up nine pages of the ledger, and covered a huge amount of texts, most of which were in German (though some French and English texts can be found). While trying to compare this order to the books the Jesuits sold, one work in particular stood out. Only one copy of “Bibliothek vorz Predigten” was bought from Benziger in January 1843, making it easier to track its movement from the publishing company to the Jesuits and to whoever purchased it. The interesting thing about this specific book, however, is that it seems to have moved around quite a bit: the Jesuits marked it as returned when they first sold it, and then sold it again a few months later.

Bought from Benziger as “Bibliothek vorz Predigten,” our book was likely Neue Bibliothek vorzüglicher Predigten des In- und Auslandes, a multi-volume collection of religious sermons (Copy on Google Books here). I’m not sure if the listed dates in the ledger are when orders were made, or when books arrived, but regardless, it took the Jesuits a few months to sell their new copy of the Bibliothek. Sell it they did, though, in March 1843 to a Rev. Mr. Dahmen, who is listed as working in a seminary. Fr. Francis Xavier Dahmen, C.M. was born March 23, 1789 in Düren, in the modern German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He had fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and – perhaps seeking a respite from Europe – was sent as a missionary to the Mississippi Valley, arriving in Baltimore in July 1816. Traveling across land and by flatboat, Dahmen crisscrossed the US before reaching Bardstown, Kentucky in late 1816. Dahmen would first become a deacon, and then decided to become a Vincentian priest and received ordination on September 5, 1819. Dahmen spent the next few decades working as a priest for various parishes in the Mississippi Valley, including posts at Sainte Genevieve and Old Mines, Missouri.

The Parish Church of St. Vincent, completed in 1845 (Image: City of St. Louis)

The Parish Church of St. Vincent, completed in 1845 (Image: City of St. Louis)

The ability to speak French, German, and some English made Dahmen a versatile priest in the St. Louis Diocese. He could tend both to French colonists who first dotted the region and to the influx of German settlers who came later in the 1830s and 1840s. With the appointment of Peter Richard Kenrick as coadjutor bishop in 1841, the diocese pushed for a new seminary closer to the city proper and separate from the Vincentian seminary in Perryville, Missouri. In a small building next to what would become St. Vincent’s Church in St. Louis, Kenrick established a separate diocesan seminary. However, the seminary shared the same lot that was designated for the new church of St. Vincent’s and the placement of Fr. Dahmen, C.M. as pastor of that church in 1845 ensured the Vincentians would play a heavy role in this seminary as well. This is where we would find Fr. Dahmen in 1843, serving the not-quite-finished St. Vincent’s Church and working at the seminary next door. This is where the Jesuits sent the book the Bibliothek that he ordered. However, the book soon found its way back to the Jesuits from the Vincentians. It did not move again for a few months.

In May 1843, the Bibliothek was sent to another German priest, a Fr. G. H. Ostlangenberg (sometimes written as Ortlangenberg, sometimes with the names C.H., C.J., and sometimes as Caspar or Jasper). There is less information available on Father Ostlangenberg, but we do know that he served in the Mississippi Valley region during the late 1830s and into the 1840s. In the early 1830s he served at St. Stephen’s Church in Indian Creek, Missouri, and found himself in Saint Clair County, Illinois working at Shoal Creek and then St. Libory in the early 1840s. According to the Metropolitan Catholic Almanac and Laity’s Directory for 1844, Fr. Ostlangenberg was one of two priests working in the parish of St. Michael’s in Galena, IL. This is where the Benziger Bibliothek would end up, finally ending its trip across the Mississippi region.

While there is much to be gained from a macro view of the book ledger, the story of the movement of this one text across Missouri is also valuable. It highlights the individuals who were actually using the books that the Jesuits ordered, and lends insight into the uses of these texts. Rather than just seeing the names of books and customers, we can use specific works like the Bibliothek to learn about formation of St. Vincent’s Parish in St. Louis and the seminary that Fr. Dahmen worked at, or the parish of Fr. Ostlangenberg in Galena. These figures speak to the varied character of the Mississippi Valley in the 1840s, and personalize a ledger that on the surface appears statistical and cold, but in reality contains a multitude of personalities and stories. By comparing the orders the Jesuits made and the sales they listed, countless stories like this could easily be drawn from the data of the ledger.

Censor Librorum

This semester, CCIH Fellow Gustav Roman and intern Roman Krasnitsky are researching the place of heretical books in the original library collection of St. Ignatius College.  In what he calls “Part 1 of the JLPP Heresy Saga,” Krasnitsky reflects here on the idea of the heretical book and the role of papal encyclicals in shaping Catholic responses to “bad” books.

“Books which openly oppose the teaching of Christ are to be burned. Even more importantly, the eyes and minds of all must be kept from books, which do so more stealthily and deceitfully.”

Pope Pius VII, Diu Statis, 1800

To many, the concept of religiously-driven literary censorship is a wholly foreign and antiquated one. On the rare occasion when someone actually thinks of it, it is usually in the ambiguous context of seemingly irrelevant events occurring centuries ago, or in some backwards dictatorship on the other side of the globe. My experience with this issue is much more immediate.

In 2013, I entered Loyola University as a seminarian for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I got a job at the seminary, working maintenance. Halfway through the summer, my janitorial duties took a somewhat unusual turn. I was pulled away from scrubbing and vacuuming and tasked with a different sort of “cleaning:” purging the seminary’s library of all “questionable” books. The library had inherited a 2,000 book donation after the death of a benefactor theologian, and I was to weed out the heterodox from the orthodox, simultaneously combing through the library’s existing collection. While this was a welcome break from the usual physical labor, deep-down I was perturbed; it seemed an unhealthy anachronism to engage in such censorship. My internal dilemma only grew when I learned that while some of the rejected books would be sold, others (ones deemed especially pernicious) would be destroyed.

Luther, Chittister, and Küng went into sealed black bags and eventually to the landfill. Theologians of non-Christian religions were consigned to the flames. Any who have been through the seminary system know the danger of questioning orders; you’re likely to be branded a heretic yourself if you do. So I feigned eagerness and did as I was told, secretly wincing each time I sent a book to its demise. During times when my clerically-clad overseer was out of the room, I would pick up an interesting looking tome and read little sections; a few books I even managed to smuggle out and save on the false pretext of “wanting to use them for kindling at home.”

A few months afterwards, I left seminary, no longer able to put up with the repressive atmosphere imposed within. My experience as censor librorum stayed with me. When I got the internship with the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project, and discovered that my friend Gustav, also an intern, was starting a sub-project to examine the role of heterodox books within the library of St. Ignatius College (founded in 1870), I signed on right away to work alongside him.

Initially, we intended to start by identifying the heretical books within the reconstructed collection of the library, but immediately realized it wouldn’t be so simple. To get to that point, we needed to take a step back and first form at least a working definition of what the Catholic Church considered “heretical” in the period in question. This restricted the sources which could be used to assemble such a definition to the 1870s on the late end (disqualifying such otherwise tempting, damnatory papal documents as Pius X’s Pascendi Dominici Gregis and Lamentabili Sane). The early cutoff point was set at 1800, marking the ascent to the Petrine throne of Pius VII and the Pope’s return to Rome after his predecessor’s capture and removal from the Eternal City by Napoleon. This gave us approximately 80 years of sources to work with (78 to be exact, as we set the end point at the death of Pius IX in 1878).

The 1800s being the era of the codification of papal infallibility, and the continuing centralization of the Roman Church, we decided that the best place to start would be the official declarations of the popes themselves – the papal encyclicals. Five popes reigned between 1800 and 1878: Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX. Between them, they promulgated a total of 59 encyclicals. Going through all 59, we identified 20 which had at least some relevance to our topic of literary censorship in conjunction with the wider topic of heresy. Reading through those 20 was truly an eye-opening experience where we were able to glean an insight into the state of Church, the threats facing it, the fears of its leaders and their sometimes knee-jerk reactions. The very language of the encyclicals was defiant and militant, with lines peppered throughout such as: “…see that they are on their guard against seduction, so that they may shudder at the evil opinions propagated by these miserable times and at the books inimical to religion, morals, and public peace, from which this foul crop of wickedness has grown.” (Leo XII, Charitate Christi, 1825)

Pius VII went even further by ordering the sequestering and burning of any books deemed contrary to Christian teaching (see quote at start of the article). It seems that the general sentiment in the Church of the time (at least as expressed by the Roman Pontiffs) was that of distrust, pessimism, and condemnation. The frantic censorship of books was more-and-more imposed on the universal Church by the highest religious authority in existence with mandates like “…take from the faithful both the vernacular Bibles which have been published contrary to the sanctions of the Roman Pontiffs and all other books which are proscribed and condemned.” (Gregory XVI, Inter Praecipuas, 1844) After parsing the encyclicals, we found that the most referenced guide for censorship therein is the Index Librorum Prohibitorum – a list of books (first compiled in 1559 under Paul IV) forbidden to be read by Catholics. Leo XII references the Index by name in Ubi Primum, Pius VIII in Traditi Humilitati, and Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos, and Inter Praecipuas.

The significance for our project of these references to the Index are considerable. A cursory inspection of the St. Ignatius collection revealed an 1873 edition of the selfsame Index. Moreover, the delicate tome appears to have been given to St. Ignatius College by the Midwest Jesuit Province. Was this perhaps a subtle suggestion from the provincial superior to the fledgling Jesuit university? And how did the Jesuits in charge of the growing collection respond? Did they wholeheartedly accept the papal charge to “…destroy the plague of bad books” and ensure that the “…criminal sources of depravity perish in flames?” (Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, 1832)

Stay tuned as we assemble our 1870s definition of “heretical” and find out how our very own Jesuits treated the works unfortunate enough to fall under that demarcation.