Special 
	Collections and Archives

ST. STEPHEN'S MISSION RECORDS



The collection documents the history of Catholicism among the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshoni on the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, which has been centered at St. Stephen's Mission and School, administered by the Jesuits and Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Gift of St. Stephen's Mission, 2003, 2010. The collection also includes photocopied correspondence loaned by the Midwest Jesuit Archives (St. Louis, Missouri), 2003-2004. The records acquired directly from St. Stephen's included related facsimile documents from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and the New York Province Jesuit Archives.

Mark G. Thiel, CA (Certified Archivist), processed the records in 2003-2004, and selected series were microfilmed in 2004.

 

Historical Note

Jesuits established St. Stephen's Mission in 1886 with approval by Chief Black Coal (Arapaho). Jesuits and Franciscan Sisters staffed the school continually until control was transferred to the St. Stephens Indian School Educational Association, a local Native American corporation. After some initial federal funding, the mission school had prospered with private contributions from Katharine Drexel and tribal trust funds disperse by the United States government.

Catholicism flourished on the reservation during the first half of the twentieth century. In most communities, local parishes were organized, each with a catechist, lay sodalities, and an itinerant Jesuit pastor. Annually, the faithful gathered for reservation wide general sodality meetings.

Christian fervor waned after World War II, which has been addressed by revitalization efforts since the 1970s. Parishes were re-organized with more resident (and fewer itinerant) Jesuit and Native priests and deacons, and parish councils. The general sodality meetings and Catholic Sioux Congresses remain popular among the elders, however, many faithful also attend Mini (diocesan) and National Tekakwitha Conferences and have organized parish Kateri Circles.

See also -- St. Stephen's Mission -- Notable Events and Notable People

See also -- Authors and Photographers among the Jesuits and Franciscan Sisters

St. Stephen's Mission Series 1, Mission and School Correspondence: General correspondence comprises an important part of the collection. Most letters pertain to mission and school activities, the Arapaho Indian pupils, and the Jesuits and Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Also included is a brochure regarding Sister Florence Petsch (Arapaho), O.S.F. (1982).

1-2, Correspondence -- Restrictions: These records are restricted for 25 years after their date of creation. Restricted records are not available via interlibrary loan.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 2, Mission and School Reports: Notable reports include House Diaries and Chronicles of the Jesuits (1912-1973) and Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia (1892-1967), the the Arapaho Map Project (1985, n.d.), the histories of St. Stephen's Mission and the parishes formerly attended by St. Stephen's, and the autobiography of Ernest Sun Rhodes (Arapaho). The Arapaho Map Project documentation includes notes on local history and place names from several elders.

2-2, Reports -- Restrictions: These records are restricted for 25 years after their date of creation. Restricted records are not available via interlibrary loan.

The Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, Series 2-1, School Reports, includes St. Stephen's School attendance reports for pupils who were enrolled tribal members.

Restrictions: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 restrict student-related records held by educational institutions without regard to their antiquity. But it does not apply to student records held by non-educational institutions such as the U.S. National Archives, which also holds copies of these student attendance records. For more information about access to these records at Marquette University, please submit an Application for Genealogical Query. For some schools, sanitized facsimiles (photocopies with obliterated confidential information) are available to on-site visitors as noted in the descriptive inventories. For contact information about access to these records at a record center of the U.S. National Archives, see Marquette's Guides to Catholic-Related Records about Native Americans in the United States. These records are not at Marquette, but at the institutions described.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 3, Mission and School Financial Records: Notable records include Financial Records from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and the Heritage Center.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 4, Mission, School, and Heritage Center Proceedings: Notable proceedings include the records of meetings from the St. Stephen's Mission Board of Directors, the Heritage Center, and the St. Stephen's Indian Education Association. The records of the latter pertain to the transition of school management from Jesuit to community control.

4-2, Proceedings -- Restrictions: These records are restricted for 25 years after their date of creation. Restricted records are not available via interlibrary loan.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 5, Mission and School Publications: The holdings contain several titles and articles pertaining to St. Stephen's Mission and School. Included are Catholic worship texts in Arapaho and Arapaho oriented literature for children.

The Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, Series 14-1, General Publications, contains complete holdings of the Wind River Rendezvous, a fundraising magazine for St. Stephen's Mission, and The Eagle, a literary journal of St. Stephen's Indian School.

Work in-progress: The Marquette University Libraries are developing bibliographic records for the publications in this collection. This includes all books, pamphlets, magazines, newsletters, prayer cards, published maps, published sound and video recordings, etc., and excludes clipping files and reprints of articles. As they are created, the bibliographic records will appear in Marqcat, the Marquette University online catalog. Furthermore, as an interim and supplemental search tool, most titles to publications in this and related collections appear in the Index to Publications in Native America Collections.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 6, Mission and School Photography: The Photography comprises an important part of the collection. Most photographs pertain to mission and school activities, the Arapaho Indian pupils, and the Jesuits and Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Also included are out-of-state field trips, e.g. Northeast Tekakwitha Conference, Fonda, New York, 1989.

Two of the online Marquette University Digital Collections -- the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Digital Images and The Indian Sentinel [magazine] -- contain selected images from St. Stephen's Mission and the Wind River Reservation. Patrons may order copies of images in this and other online Marquette University Digital Collections by using the online form. Also, patrons may select and order copies of images not online by consulting with an archivist. Be aware that related images may be included in several different collections at Marquette University.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 7, Jesuit Papers:

Damhorst, Reverend Joseph E., S.J.: The papers of Father Damhorst include notes by John C'Hair, Jr. (Arapaho) that relate to Beginning to Live a Life of Faith, by Patrick J. Twohey, S.J., 1978.

Nunlist, Brother Ursus, S.J.: Although brief, the writings of Brother Nunlist pertain to the founding of Holy Rosary Mission, Pine Ridge Reservation, St. Francis Mission, Rosebud Reservation, and St. Stephen's Mission, Wind River Reservation. See also the Jesuit Papers in the St. Francis Mission Records and the Holy Rosary Mission/Red Cloud Indian School Records.

Short, Reverend Anthony J., S.J.: The papers of Father short include a history of the Arapaho Indians and St. Stephen's Mission. The bulk of Father Short's papers have not been processed and are restricted for 70 years after their date of creation. For a description, see Unprocessed Records.

7-2, Jesuit Papers -- Restrictions: The bulk of these records have not been processed for research and are restricted for 70 years after their date of creation. Restricted records are not available via interlibrary loan.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 8, General Publications: This series contains monographs regarding Arapaho history, language, and culture that were collected by St. Stephen's Mission.

Work in-progress: The Marquette University Libraries are developing bibliographic records for the publications in this collection. This includes all books, pamphlets, magazines, newsletters, prayer cards, published maps, published sound and video recordings, etc., and excludes clipping files and reprints of articles. As they are created, the bibliographic records will appear in Marqcat, the Marquette University online catalog. Furthermore, as an interim and supplemental search tool, most titles to publications in this and related collections appear in the Index to Publications in Native America Collections.

St. Stephen's Mission Series 9, Mission, Jesuit, and General Sound Recordings: This series contains recordings regarding Catholic worship, recollections, and stories by Arapaho Indians.

Series 10, General and Jesuit Motion Pictures and Video Recordings: This series contains a video recording regarding St. Stephen's Mission.

Series 0, Unprocessed Mission and Jesuit Records: Marquette also holds unprocessed archival records from St. Stephen's Mission. These records are not ready for research use and therefore, they are restricted.

 

More Related Resources

  • Christianity and Native America: Checklist to all Marquette Native Catholic collections plus access to detailed information about them including genealogical records; access to digital image collections and The Indian Sentinel historic magazine online; information for educators about Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and her Native Catholic followers.

  • Guides to Catholic-Related Records about Native Americans in the United States: Over 1,000 repository entries in PDF format to help genealogists and historical researchers find the records they need on American Indians and Alaskan Natives. The entries provide contact information on the repositories, brief descriptions about the records, the Native groups served, and the associated Catholic organizations. Many of the entries include institutional chronologies to explain the history of the records.

Black and Indian Mission Office > Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions

Tekakwitha Conference National Center

U.S. Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops > Cultural Diversity in the Church

 

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