The Jesuits can trace their presence in the American South since the second half of the sixteenth, dating to just ten years after Ignatius Loyola’s death in 1546. St. Francis Borgia, Jesuit Superior General in 1556, sent three Jesuits to Florida at the behest of the king of Spain. Fr. Pedro Martinez, SJ, and his two companions were the first Jesuits on American soil, and Martinez was killed by an indigenous community defending their home.
In 1700, Jesuits returned to what would become the New Orleans province when Fr. Paul Du Ru, SJ, acted as the chaplain for an expedition exploring the Mississippi River from the south to the north (the inverse of an earlier journey by Jacques Marquette, SJ). Other Jesuits moved through the area, serving as chaplains in Biloxi, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans, Louisiana, and for Native American nations in the area. In 1725, Fr. Nicholas Ignace de Beaubois, SJ, established the first permanent Jesuit residence in New Orleans. Missionary activity flowed out of this headquarters until 1763, when the Society was suppressed in Louisiana.
The Jesuits returned to the area in 1837, this time sent by the province of Lyon in France. They ministered across the region from South Carolina to New Mexico, first as a mission of that province before becoming its own province in 1907. For nearly 110 years they educated minds and souls as the New Orleans Province, before joining with the Missouri Province in 2015 to continue their work as the Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus in the United States.
The New Orleans Province Archives were previously housed at Loyola University New Orleans after being moved from Grand Coteau, Louisiana. The collections were relocated to the Jesuit Archives and Research Center in St. Louis in the spring of 2018.
The New Orleans Province Collection is arranged into seven record groups:
RG 1: Governance
RG 2: Financial Information
RG 3: Locations
RG 4: Personnel
RG 5: Manuscript
RG 6: Photographs
RG 7: Jesuitica
Finding Guides for New Orleans Province Collections
RG 3: Locations