Missouri Province Archive

Province History

In 1823, seven Belgian novices, two brothers, and two priests traveled down the Ohio River and across Illinois to establish a mission in, what had been until 1821, the Missouri Territory. The original Jesuit Missouri Mission extended from the Alleghenies to the high plains, with principle outposts in St. Louis and Florrisant. Upon their arrival, the Jesuits began to minister to the Osage, Kickapoo, and Potawatomi tribes. In 1829, they assumed responsibility for Saint Louis College, the future Saint Louis University. The Missouri Mission became a vice-province in 1840 and a province in 1863.

The second province to be established in the United States, Missouri served as a home province for many missionaries and explorers of the American west, including Father Pierre-Jean De Smet who mapped much of the western United States, including the Oregon Territory. The Missouri Province also staffed several missions outside North America, including in Belize and Puerto Rico.

New Orleans became an independent mission in 1847 and later a province with Jesuit ministry in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. As the Church grew in the center of the country, three provinces developed out of the Missouri Province. In 1928, the Chicago Province was granted independent control of the governance of the Society in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. Likewise, in 1955 the Province of Wisconsin was formed to administrate the Society in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

In 2014, reconfiguration of the American provinces led to the joining of Missouri and New Orleans into the Central and Southern Province.


 Collection Summary

Consisting of the records of the Missouri Province and its missions since the founding of the original Missouri Mission in 1823, The Missouri Jesuit Province Archive was formally incorporated in 1941. The archives were first housed at the Missouri Province office and later transferred to St. Louis University’s Pius XII Library where it resided until it was moved to another on campus location, Fusz Memorial Hall. The collection returned to a renovated archives space at Missouri Province office building at 4511 West Pine boulevard to accommodate the arrival of the Wisconsin, Chicago, and Detroit province collections in 1996.

The collection contains the administrative records of the Missouri Province, as well as Jesuit houses, schools, and seminaries. The collection also includes the personal manuscripts of Jesuits who were members of the province.


 Collection Arrangement

The Missouri Province Archive is arranged in nine record groups:

RG 1: General History of the Society of Jesus

This record group includes resources regarding the general history of the Society of Jesus. RG1 includes the records of the Society’s General Congregations, published letters of the Superior General, as well as resources such as pamphlets, Society-wide celebration materials, and sketches of the Society.

RG 2: History of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus

This record group includes the history of the Missouri Mission, Vice-Province, and Province. RG2 includes the records of the Provincial and Missouri Province Offices, various ministries within the Province, Provincial congregations and events, as well as resources such as publications, maps, photographs and art, artifacts, and scrapbooks.

RG 3: Locations of Ministries of the Society of Jesus

This record group includes the history of Jesuit ministries in the Missouri Province. RG3 includes the records of Missouri Province houses and communities, schools, seminaries, and universities, missions, and parishes.

RG 4: History of the Society of Jesus in Provinces other than Missouri

This record group includes material documenting the history of the Society of Jesus in Provinces other than Missouri. RG3 includes materials from provinces in the United States and around the world. Correspondence from other provinces is particularly represented in this record group.

RG 5: Biographical Material of Members of the Society of Jesus

This record group includes the personnel files and personal papers of members of the Missouri province. Due to the presence of restricted material, permission from the archivist must be obtained to view materials in RG5.

RG 6: History of the Society of Jesus in Education

This record group includes material about the history of the Society of Jesus in Education, particularly in the Missouri Province. RG6 includes material related to the Jesuit Educational Association, the Jesuit Secondary Education Association, and the Association of Jesuit College and Universities.

RG 7: Varia (Miscellaneous)

This record group contained miscellaneous documents acquired by the Missouri Province Archives. This record group has been disassembled, and the material has been dispersed to more appropriate record groups.

RG 8: De Smetiana

This record group contains material related to Jesuit Missionary, Pierre-Jean De Smet, including De Smet’s personal papers. Other materials include books, essays, oral histories, and art about De Smet added to the collection by members of the the Missouri Province Archives’ staff.

RG 9: Non-Jesuitica

This record group contains material related to the history of American Catholicism, Catholic priests in the military, Native Americans, the St. Louis Archdiocese, and general St. Louis history.


Finding Guides for Missouri Province collections

RG 2: History of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus

MIS.2.001 General Governance collection

MIS.2.002 General History collection

MIS.2.003 Religious Pamphlet collection

RG 3: Locations of Ministries of the Society of Jesus

MIS.3.001 Belize Mission collection

MIS.3.002 Saint Louis University collection

MIS.3.003 Osage Mission collection

MIS.3.004 Saint Francis Xavier College Church collection

MIS.3.005 The Queen’s Work collection

MIS.3.006 Institute of Jesuit History collection

MIS.3.007 Saint Joseph’s College collection

MIS.3.008 Saint Stanislaus Seminary collection

RG 5: Biographical Material of Members of the Society of Jesus

MIS.5.001 Laurence J. Kenny papers

MIS.5.002 Charles M. Charroppin papers

MIS.5.003 James O. Van de Velde papers

MIS.5.004 Peter J. Verhaegen papers

RG 8: De Smetiana

MIS.8.001 Pierre-Jean De Smet collection