Records related to the 24 boarding school locations administered by the Jesuits may be held in a variety of locations:
JESUIT ARCHIVES & RESEARCH CENTER
The Jesuit Archives & Research Center (JARC), as the name suggests, classifies and preserves records related to most Jesuits of the U.S. and their apostolic ministries. Researchers engaged by the Jesuits to focus on the boarding schools have found mostly federal government forms, such as attendance reports and letters between Bureau of Indian Affairs officials and Jesuit leaders. The forms are duplicates of ones that can often be found in the National Archives and Records Administration.
The records held at JARC, unfortunately, contain only brief snippets of information. Procedures for keeping records and other material were uneven in the 1800s and early 1900s. In addition, fires and floods often compromised the safety of documents. While some Jesuit missions had fairly robust archival holdings, others had little to reveal. You may access JARC’s Record Group Finding Guides here.
In the 1980s, some of the oldest mission records of the former Oregon Province, which encompassed Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, were transferred to microfilm. “The Microfilm Editions of the Oregon Province Archives” can be found in many academic libraries across the western U.S., including Alaska. More recently the microfilm has been digitized and can be accessed through a database held by Gale, a for-profit company that specializes in archival and educational resources. If you wish to view these digital resources, email JARC to request temporary access to the online database.
If you need help with any archival request, visit JARC’s website and click on Contact to submit your request.
While the Jesuit Archives & Research Center retains a few copies of sacramental records, the best source for information on baptisms, marriages, confirmations and deaths are local Catholic dioceses or archdioceses. Please check with the archives of the diocese in question for those records and their policies, hours of operation, and digitization initiatives.
RELIGIOUS WOMEN ARCHIVES
The Jesuits often worked with women religious in the administration of Native boarding schools. The sisters, including the Sisters of Providence, the Ursuline sisters, the Spokane Dominicans (now part of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters) and others, often oversaw the girls’ sections of the schools. Each of those religious orders of women has their own archives separate from JARC, and inquiries should be made to those orders for information on their archives.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES & RECORDS ADMINISTRATION (NARA)
Because Jesuits contracted with the federal government to operate boarding schools, many official records related to boarding schools reside with the federal government. Most of these records are held at regional NARA facilities, but you should check with NARA directly to obtain these records, as well as their privacy restrictions.
Marquette, a Jesuit university in Milwaukee, digitized Bureau of Catholic Indian Mission records as part of its special collections and university archives.