Oregon Province Archive

Province History

The Oregon Province began in 1841 as the Rocky Mountain Mission, which included all the land from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, and from the Mexican border (then the 42º parallel, which is today the southern border of Oregon and Idaho) to the Arctic Ocean.  An area larger than the entire continent of Europe, it wasn’t part of any country at the time — the United States ended at the Rocky Mountains.  Fr. Peter De Smet and five other Jesuits arrived in 1841 and went to work as missionaries in the indigenous communities and nations of the region.

In 1909, the Rocky Mountain Mission and the California Mission, a work of the Turin Province, were united as the California Province.  The new province covered the United States west of the Rockies, as well as Alaska.  In 1932, the territory was split again and the Oregon Province was created.  It covered Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska — more than one million square miles in five time zones.

The Oregon Province educated and ministered to the people of the Northwest for 85 years before reuniting with the California Province in 2017.  They continue the work started in 1841 as the West Province of the Society of Jesus in the US.

For many years, the Oregon Province Archives were maintained at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.  In the spring of 2019, they were moved to the Jesuit Archives & Research Center in St. Louis.

Collection Arrangement

The Oregon Province Archive is arranged in five record groups.  Record groups in blue have finding guides created for some or all of the material.  Please click the record group to be taken to a page with the finding guides and check back often if the finding guide you’re looking for isn’t present — new ones are being created often as we integrate the Oregon Province Archives into our holdings.

RG1: Locations of Ministry

RG2: Personnel

RG3: Governance

RG4: Audio-Visual Material

RG5: Special Collections