Belize Mission Glass Lantern Slide Collection

Collection Summary

Title: Belize Mission glass lantern slide collection
Creator: Unknown
Date: circa 1915-1920s
Extent: 91 glass lantern slides
Reference code: JA-MIS-3-001
Repository name: Jesuit Archives: Central United States, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.

Historical Note

The Belize Mission was officially established by the Society of Jesus in 1851 by Father Eustace Du Peyron, S.J. in response to requests for priests made by the nation’s new refugee Catholic population following the Caste War of the Yucatan. The Jesuits established several early parishes along the coast. The parish in Corozal, established in 1859, primarily served Catholics originally from the Yucatan, while the Punta Gorda and Stann Creek parishes, established in 1862 and 1867 respectively, primarily served the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna communities.

In 1862, Great Britain formally declared Belize a British Crown Colony, British Honduras, and instituted English as the colony’s official language. As part of the Vicar Apostolic of Jamaica, the Belize Mission had been administrated by the Society’s Province of England since its founding in the 1850s. After the official colonization Belize by the British, the European Jesuits requested more English speaking priests and brothers be sent. These Jesuits were encouraged to teach in the Catholic school system. One of these schools, a boarding and day school for boys, St. John’s College, established in 1887 by Father Cassian Gillet, S.J., would become one of the largest and most prestigious educational institutions in the country.

By the 1890s, the Province of England found itself greatly overextended. The decision was made by the superior general to transfer responsibility for the Belize Mission over to the United States’ Missouri Province. The Missouri Province Jesuits continued to expand the mission, establishing parishes in west central Belize among the indigenous Mayan people. The Parish at Benque Viejo del Carmen was the first of these parishes, established in 1905, while the parish of San Ignacio was established later in 1909.

Scope and content note

The Belize Mission glass lantern slide collection consists of ninety-one, hand-colored and black and white photographs, on a variety of Belizean subjects, developed on glass plates for projection viewing. Likely created between 1915 and 1920, the slides capture the missionary work of a small group of religious sisters and Jesuits, including Fathers Louis J. Fusz, Joseph P. Lynam, Joseph Kemper, Rickard Rooney, Arthur F. Versavel, and Brother Michael J. Hanrahan; the life and customs of the people of Belize, including Maya and Garifuna communities; industries of the nation of Belize, including logging and farming; interior and exterior view of churches and school buildings, including Holy Redeemer Parish and St. John’s College; as well as landscapes and seascapes of inland and coastal Belize. Many of these photographs feature Father Louis J. Fusz and may have been taken by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which published a Sunday magazine article about Fusz’s ministry in 1916, or the slides may have been commissioned by the Fusz family. While all the slides were created in the early twentieth century, it is possible that two or more collections of slides by different photographers were combined by Belize missionaries or Missouri Province staff.


All glass lantern slides are arranged in their original order.

Access conditions

Access to the original slide is limited to special appointments because the images are fragile.

Rights and reproductions

The archival records in the Jesuit Archives: Central United States are the property of the Central and Southern, Chicago-Detroit, and Wisconsin Provinces of the Society of Jesus. Copies may not be duplicated or deposited elsewhere without the prior written consent of the archivist. Supplying a copy is not an authorization to publish or circulate. Written permission to publish any records in their entirety or a substantial portion thereof must be requested and approved prior to publication. The researcher has the sole legal responsibility for obtaining this written permission.

Related archival materials

Forms part of the Belize Mission Collection of the Missouri Province Archives.

Control of description

Described by AMB, Nov. 2015 using DACS; last rev. 2013.

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