In 1665, The Society of Jesus sent Father Claude Allouez to set up mission-posts in on the Chequamegon Bay near modern Ashland, at De Pere, and at various points in the interior of what would become the state of Wisconsin. Father Jacques Marquette, along with Louis Joliet, traversed the state on their way to explore the upper Mississippi in 1673.
In 1849, Jesuits from the Missouri Vice-Province returned to Wisconsin to engage in apostolic work. Fathers Anthony Anderledy, Joseph Brunner, and Frederick Hubner, three Jesuits who had been expelled from Switzerland and sent to the Missouri Province as refugees, went to Milwaukee to do parish work among German-speaking Catholics and to open a Jesuit College. In 1855 the Archbishop in Wisconsin asked the Jesuits to take over operation of St. Gall’s parish and, in 1875 the Holy Name of Jesus parish was organized by Jesuits. In 1874, they accepted responsibility for Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Mankato, Minnesota, and continued westward to found missions in South Dakota.
The Jesuits opened the predecessor of present Marquette High School, a grammar and high school at St. Gaul’s in Wisconsin, in 1857. Marquette College opened in 1881 in Milwaukee, and became Marquette University in 1907. In the late 1870’s the Bishop of Omaha, Nebraska invited Jesuits to staff the newly-formed Creighton College, which would later become Creighton University.
The Wisconsin Province was formed out of the Missouri Province in 1955, creating two independent provinces. The Wisconsin Province consisted of the Midwestern States of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, as well as Wisconsin, and maintained missions in Korea, Kenya, and Uganda. Reconfiguration of the American provinces led to the joining of the Wisconsin Province and the Chicago-Detroit Province on June 5 2017, as the USA Midwest Province.
The Wisconsin Province Archive was transferred to Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1997 to be part of the newly formed Midwest Jesuit Archives, which brought together the collections of the Chicago, Detroit, Missouri, and Wisconsin Provinces. The Midwest Jesuit Archives was later renamed the Jesuit Archives: Central United States. The collections within the Jesuit Archives: Central United States, including the Wisconsin Province Archive, were relocated to their current home at the Jesuit Archives & Research Center in November 2017.
The Wisconsin Province Archive is arranged in seven record groups:
RG1: Government of the Province
This record group includes records from the governance of the Wisconsin Province. RG1 includes the records of the Provincial and Wisconsin Province Offices, such as the Treasurer and the Vocation Director; materials documenting various ministries within the Province; Planning and Renewal documents covering Province Congresses and Meetings, events such as ordinations and jubilees, Superiors’ Meetings, and Provincial Congregations; and materials regarding the period before the Wisconsin Province was formed and the establishment of this Province.
RG2: Personnel in the Province
This record group includes the personnel files and personal papers of members of the Wisconsin Province. Due to the presence of restricted material, permission from the archivist must be obtained to view materials in RG2.
RG3: Location of Ministries in the Province
This record group includes the history of Jesuit ministries in the Wisconsin Province. RG3 includes the records of Wisconsin Province houses and communities; schools, seminaries, and universities; missions; and parishes.
RG4: Papers of the North American Assistancy
This record group includes papers of the North American Assistancy collected by the Wisconsin Province. RG4 consists of materials from the Jesuit Conference, including records from the Conference itself, the Jesuit Education Association, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and the Jesuit Secondary Education Association, as well as records documenting early assistancy cooperation among the Provinces.
This record group includes materials from Rome collected by the Wisconsin Province. RG5 includes material from the Holy See, the Pope, and the Roman Curia, as well as material from the Jesuit Central office in Rome, including items documenting Congregations, Generals, and other international offices there.
RG6: Wisconsin Vertical Files
This record group includes writings and other ephemera regarding Superior Generals of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit and non-Jesuit Saints, and Wisconsin Province history. Writings consist of pamphlets, articles, maps, and booklets either written by Jesuits or about the Society of Jesus, including items on Jesuit history, Rome, locations in the Wisconsin Province, locations in the Missouri Province, locations in other Provinces, the Milwaukee Archdiocese, the Apostleship of Prayer, Devotion to the Sacred Heart, and the Catholic Church.
RG7: Special Collections
This record group includes collections related to the Wisconsin Province, but which fall outside of the other record groups due to their scope and/or provenance. For example, one special collection is the Campion High School Collection. This extensive collection contains materials both from and about Campion Jesuit High School, as well as its predecessor, Campion College of the Sacred Heart.