Special Collections

Jesuit Historical Manuscripts on Microfilm

The Vatican Film Library holds microfilms of approximately 13,000 manuscripts from a variety of libraries and archives relating to activities of the Society of Jesus in North, Central, and South America, as well as the Philippines. These materials range in date from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. For reproductions made from manuscripts on microfilm, please see our Reproductions Request page, under the heading Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library Microforms.

For details and contact information of Jesuit archives throughout the world:

  • Thomas M. McCoog, A Guide to Jesuit Archives, Subsidia ad historiam S.I., 12 (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources; Rome, Institutum Historicum Societatis Jesu, 2001)

Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI)

Select records of official business and correspondence of the central government of the Society of Jesus housed in the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu in Rome and pertaining to activities in North and South America and the Philippines to the late nineteenth century. Includes triennial catalogues and annual letters of the various provinces.

  • Finding Guide
  • Contact: Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, http://www.sjweb.info/arsi/
  • Bibliography
    • Joseph Teschitel, “Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI),” Archivum 4 (1954): 145–52
    • Francis Bannon, “The St. Louis University Collection of Jesuitica Americana,” Hispanic American Historical Review 37 (1957): 82–88
    • Ernest J. Burrus, “Mexican Historical Documents in the Central Jesuit Archives,” Manuscripta 12 (1968): 133–61
    • José Jesús Hernández Palomo, “Las Cartas anuas del Peru en el Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu: Valoracion y catalogo (1603–1765),” Supplemento de anuario de estudios americanos, sección historiografia y bibliografia 48, no. 2 (1991): 27–73

Fondo Gesuitico—Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI)

A sub-collection within the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu in Rome containing records from the office of the Jesuit Procurator General (chief liaison officer to various papal departments). Collection contains two groups of materials relating to Jesuit activities in the Americas: letters from individual Jesuits requesting to be sent to one of the mission fields, and documents relating to the economic development and history of various Jesuit colleges, mainly in Brazil and the Spanish Indies. There is little material in this collection pertaining to non-Spanish North America.

Jesuit Provincial Archives

Select materials from the Missouri Province, the Maryland Province, and the French Canadian Province going back to the earliest arrival of the Jesuits to America. For further discussion, description, and bibliography on these materials, see:

Fondo Curia—Archivum Pontificiae Universitatis Gregorianae

Materials from the archives of the Collegium Romanum or Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, comprising about 430 manuscripts written between the sixteenth and the middle of the nineteenth centuries and representing the teaching and lecturing of the Jesuit professors at that university during those centuries. The greater part has never been printed and of the manuscripts that have, many have been published only in abridgements. Approximately 186 manuscripts deal with philosophical subjects, primarily commentaries or teaching notes on the works of Aristotle, most commonly the Physics. Ascetical works (including sermons and sermon notes) make up the second largest part of the collection, totaling some 100 manuscripts, while books on theology occupy some 51. Books on science, law, and the humanities form a far smaller group. For further discussion, description, and bibliography on these materials, see:

Pastells Collection

Materials transcribed by Pablo Pastells, SJ, during the last decade of the nineteenth and the first thirty years of the twentieth century, documenting the history of the Jesuit Order and its work in the Americas and Philippines, including the Patronato Real and colonial education. The documents are official and semi-official in nature, drawn chiefly from the Archivo de Indias in Seville, but also from other Spanish public and private archival collections, as well as Jesuit archives. The collection is divided into two parts:

  • Seville Collection (Colección de documentos de Sevilla)—relating to the Jesuit Provinces of Paraguay, Chile, Perú, Quito, Nuevo Reino de Granada, Mexico, and the Philippines, drawn from the Archivo General de Indias in Seville.
  • Barcelona Collection (Colección de documentos de Barcelona)—relating to the Philippines, drawn from the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, the Archivo General de Simancas in the Province of Valladolid, the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid, the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, and the primate archives of the Jesuit Provinces of Madrid, Málaga, Loyola, Manila, and Mexico.

Summaries of the contents of the Pastells documents may be found at the beginning or, in some cases, at the conclusion of each volume of transcripts. A card index to this collection, including Pastells’s original summaries and other information, is available for consultation in the reading room of the Vatican Film Library. For further discussion, description, and bibliography on these materials, see:

  • Franciscos Mateos, “La colección Pastells de documentos sobre América y Filipinas,” Revista de Indias 27 (1947): 7–52.
  • John Francis Bannon, “The St. Louis University Collection of Jesuitica Americana,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 37 (1957): 82–84.
  • Lowrie J. Daly and Edward K. Burger, “Some Notes on the Pastells Collection at Saint Louis University,” Manuscripta 24 (1980): 99–105.
  • Guadalupe Jiménez Codinach, The Hispanic World 1492–1898: A Guide to Photoreproduced Manuscripts from Spain in the Collections of the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico = El mundo hispanico 1492–1898: Guía de copias fotográficas de manuscritos españoles existentes en los Estados Unidos de América, Guam y Puerto Rico (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1994), 415–25.

Archivio Historico della S. Congregazione “De Propaganda Fide”

Materials from the archives of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith relating to missionary activities in Latin America. We have a complete set of the indexes for the entire archive (not limited to Latin America), and information relating specifically to Latin America from the Acta Sanctae Congregationis for 1621–1862 (the records of the meetings and decisions of the Cardinals in General Congregation), and from the Scritturè referite nei Congressi (S.C.) for 1634–1892 (records of the weekly meetings of the Congregation, not the General Congregation). For further discussion, description, and bibliography on these materials, see:

Biblioteca Ecuatoriana “Aurelio Espinosa Polit””—Fundación Biblioteca Ecuatoriana Aurelio Espinosa Pólit (FBEAEP)

Materials collected by Aurelio Espinosa Polit, S.J., housed in the Fundación Biblioteca Ecuatoriana Aurelio Espinosa Pólit (FBEAEP) in Quito, Ecuador, and documenting the history of Jesuit activities in Ecuador in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Collection contains books, newspapers, journal articles, and government documents.