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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

Oblate Sisters of Providence Library

Address: 701 Gun Road
Baltimore, MD 21227-3899
Telephone Number: (410) 242-8500
Fax Number: (410) 242-4963
Contact Persons: Sharon Knecht, Archivist
Email: [email protected]

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
Monday -- Friday 9:00 a.m. -- 4:00 p.m.
Open to the public: By appointment only
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: No

The Archivist is on site on days and hours indicated above. Holdings related to internal affairs of the Congregation and/or pertaining to personal lives of the membership (living or deceased) are restricted for use by researchers with a legal, personal or exceptional right thereto. As of October 2005, the Archives has completed the processing and arrangement of its basic collection.

Photocopying is permited for a small fee to all parties requesting the service.

Reference Policy:
Telephone reference questions are accepted with the request for a follow-up written request via mail - the latter being the preferred policy. Questions are answered for current researchers and former clients; out-of-state or foreign-country visitors; and persons under pressure for urgent deadlines for serious research.
Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution.
Background Note:
Reverend James Hector Joubert de la Muraille, S.S., co-founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence in the city of Baltimore with Elizabeth Lange (later Mother Mary Lange) in 1829 and three other women of color: Madeleine Balas, Rosine Boegue and Therese Marie Duchemin. The express purpose of the founding was the education of the children of people of color who were refugees fleeing the horrors of the Haitian revolution of 1793. There were no provisions for the education of people of color in Maryland prior to the Civil War.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the oldest order of Religious Women of Color in the world.

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Description of Collections

Books and monographs:
The Joubert Library contains 600 volumes dating from the late 1700s to the 1840s. Subject emphases of this collection include church history, the Catholic faith, the Sulpician Order, the Jesuits, the Josephite Order, and the Redemptorist Order. Highlights include works on the Oblate Sisters of Providence, their missionary endeavors in Cuba, Costa Rica and the United States, as well as their educational programs and ministries of service to the church in the Americas.

There is a card catalog for this collection.

Periodicals and newspapers:
An indefinite number in the Community Library. These cover the national and Central American mission and ministry of the community as well as highlighting the social, educational, formative and ecumenical aspects of the Oblate Sisters. A couple of journal highlights include a now defunct journal entitled Oblate News and Views (1948-1966) and the Josephite Harvest (1929 to present).
Archives, manuscripts, correspondence, and oral histories:
12, five-drawer vertical file cabinets with holdings from 1828 to the present. This collection includes manuscripts; biographical sketches; personal files of deceased Oblates; histories of the Order; correspondence; civic and religious activities of all Mission Houses in the United States, Central America and Cuba (1900-1961); personnel directories; diary of the founder; information on schools and institutions owned and operated by the Oblate Sisters; and parochial and parish church educational events and projects.

Finding aids are available for six Record Groups: Missions, Motherhouse, Administration, Congregation, Affiliated Organizations, Photographs and Scrapbooks

Videos and Sound Recordings:
Four 16mm films; 25 8mm films; eight videos; 98 cassette tapes with inclusive dates from 1960 to the present. Virtually all of these relate to the geographic areas of the United States, pre-Castro Cuba, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic which comprise the missions and ministry areas served by the Oblate Sisters. The cassette tapes are of liturgies, ceremonies, seminars and workshops related to O.S.P Gospel Ventures.

The Archivist can help researchers access these materials.

Paintings, photographs, slides, and prints:
100 photo binders and a large number of unidentified photographs; art works from former OSP convent-owned properties; 50 or more sets of slides of O.S.P. functions, rites, programs, etc. The dates vary according to the lifespan of the mission or ministry. The focus of these items is Catholic generally and includes Congregational milestones, events, functions, educational and ecumenical projects, ministerial ministry and achievements. Finding aids include inventories of holdings, document box labels, personnel directories and historical ledgers.
Other holdings not listed above:
Artifacts and exhibit posters and relics depicting the Congregation's history, mission and ministry to the Church. The Church is understood here ecumenically.

Subject Headings

Joubert, James (Jacques), d. 1843; Lange, Mary Elizabeth, ca. 1800-1882; Missions and missionaries--Costa Rica; Missions and missionaries--Cuba; Missions and missionaries--Dominican Republic; Missions and missionaries--United States; Oblate Sisters of Providence; Oblate Sisters of Providence--History; St. Frances Academy, Baltimore


Davis, Cyrian. History of Black Catholics in the United States. New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1990.

Diggs, Margaret A. Catholic Negro Education in the United States. Houston, TX: Standard Printing Company, 1936.

Gillard, John T., S.S.J. Catholic Church and the American Negro. Baltimore, MD: The Josephite Press, 1929.

---. Colored Catholics in the United States. Baltimore, MD: The Josephite Press, 1941.

---. More Colored Nuns. Baltimore, MD: The Josephite Press, 1938.

Irvine, Jacqueline Jordan, and Michele Foster. Growing Up African American in Catholic Schools New York, NY: Teacher's College Press, Columbia University, 1996.

Lannon, Maria. Response to Love. Baltimore, MD: The Josephite Press, 1990.

Member of the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Thou Lord Art My Hope: Life of Mother Theresa Duchemin. Lancaster, PA: Dolphin Press, 1961.

Misner, Barbara, S.C.S.C. Comparative Social Study of the Members and Apostolates of the First Permanent Communities. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1981.

---. Highly Respectable and Accomplished Ladies: Catholic Women Religious in America, 1790-1850. New York, NY: Garland Publishing Company, 1988.

Morrow, Diane Batts. "The Oblate Sisters: Issues of Black and Female Agency in Their Ante-bellum Experience." Ph.D diss., University of Georgia, 1996.

An Oblate Sister. Blossoms Gathered from the Lower Branches. St. Louis, MO: Con. P. Curran Printing Company, 1914.

Posey, Thaddeus J., O.F.M.Cap.. "An Unwanted Commitment." Ph.D diss., St. Louis University, 1993.

Ridder, Victor L., Jr. A Guide to Religious Ministries for Catholic Men and Women. New Rochelle, NY: The Catholic News Publishing Company, 1987.

Sherwood, Grace. Oblate's One Hundred Years. New York, NY: McMillan Co., 1929.

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  June 22, 2017
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