Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week is the Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers in Georgetown University’s Booth Family Center for Special Collections. The papers provide insight into Jesuit slaveholding during the early national period (1815-1827). The collection consists of the memoirs, observations, and expositions of a Jesuit who worked principally as manager of St. Inigoes, a Jesuit house and plantation in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. You can access the finding aid online.
Mobberly’s five memoranda books describe events at Georgetown and St. Inigoes between 1805 and 1827, written shortly after their occurrence, interspersed with short expositions on past events and his views on race, agricultural management, miracles, Protestants, and liberty. The collection contains a two-volume defense of slavery based on the Biblical story of Noah’s sons, particularly Cham. In it, Mobberly addresses the question of whether it is possible to both serve God and own human beings. He cited biblical passages in support of slavery.
Jesuit Slaveholding in Maryland has received renewed attention. The Georgetown Slavery Archive, featuring materials from the Maryland Province Archives and other collections, is one way to learn about the 272 enslaved people sold by the Jesuits in 1838. The entire Mobberly collection has been digitized and made available for free download on Georgetown’s digital platform.
Cassandra Berman, M.L.S., Ph.D.
Archivist, Maryland Province Archives
Booth Family Center for Special Collections
37th & O Streets, NW
Washington DC 20057-1174