St. Mary's Seminary & University Archives
Founded in 1791 by the Society of St. Sulpice, St. Mary’s has the distinction of being the first Roman Catholic seminary in the United States. St. Mary's was also the country's first Roman Catholic institution to receive the status of a pontifical university in 1822.
The original campus was located on Pennsylvania Avenue near Paca Street in what is now the Seton Hill neighborhood of Baltimore City. The former One Mile Tavern housed the seminary for the first 87 years of its history. A larger and grander building was dedicated in 1878. The campus became known as Paca Street at this time because of the new building’s location.
In 1929 the Sulpicians opened a second campus in the Roland Park section of the city that housed the School of Theology. "Old St. Mary's" served as the Philosophy House
until 1969 when the decision was made to close the campus. Five years later, the seminary building and much of the surrounding property were sold to the city and developed into a park. The building was razed in 1975.
The seminary chapel, the Mother Seton House, and the former convent, which today houses St. Mary's Spiritual Center, are still maintained by the Sulpician Fathers and are known collectively as St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site. A Visitor Center was opened on the property in August 2009 to accommodate tour groups.
To learn more about St. Mary's Seminary & University, please visit their website.
The Archives of St. Mary’s Seminary & University are indispensable for understanding the development of the seminary system in this country. The collection includes official correspondence, records regarding administrative, financial, legal, and curriculum matters, student and faculty lists, faculty
meeting minutes, student registers, photographs, and publications, including the Voice of St. Mary’s Seminary (1924-1970), a student-run publication that chronicles the history, events, and activities of the seminary. Researchers are able to access open collections through the existing card catalog system.
Note: The Provincial of the U.S. Sulpicians also served as President of St. Mary's until 1968. Because of this, researchers will need to consult the Provincials' papers for a complete record of the seminary's history. Please see the Collection
Description for the Archives of the Associated Sulpicians of the U.S.
The holdings are arranged according to the following record series:
Note: Student records for St. Mary’s Seminary & University (est. 1791), St. Charles College (1848-1969), the Liberal Arts College of St. Mary’s Seminary & University (1969-1977), and the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University (est. 1968) are maintained by the Registrar's Office of St. Mary’s Seminary & University and are closed.
If you are an alumnus of any of these institutions and need to request an official copy of your transcript, please send a fax or letter (no e-mails) with name, date of birth, address to which transcript should be sent, and signature to:
Registrar, St. Mary’s Seminary & University
5400 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21210
Family History Information
The Seminary & University has designated certain information contained in the records of its students as “Family History Information.” This includes: 1) full name, 2) date and place of birth and/or baptism, 3) parents’ names and place and date of marriage; 4) siblings’ names; 5) education; 6) sponsoring diocese; 7) date and place of ordination; 8) other similar information such as a photograph. Family History Information will be disclosed for deceased students only. Permission of a person authorized by St. Mary’s Seminary & University is required for access to Family History Information within 50 years of a student’s death. After 50 years there is no restriction on access to this information.
Please see the Genealogy page for student lists that have been compiled for St. Mary's Seminary & University and St. Charles College.
The following policy has been adopted by St. Mary’s Seminary & University in order to provide researchers with a statement on the procedures regarding access to and use of St. Mary’s Seminary & University records that are part of the Associated Archives. While the Associated Archives also houses the archival collections of the Associated Sulpicians of the United States and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, this Collection Access Policy applies only to materials that are owned by St. Mary’s Seminary & University. This policy has been approved by the Archives Oversight Committee as required by the Associated Archives Agreement dated May 3, 2004.
St. Mary’s Seminary & University opens its archives to all qualified researchers. In trying to balance the principles of both the right to know and confidentiality, we believe the access policy that has been adopted reflects sensitivity to the interests of both the researcher and St. Mary’s Seminary & University. Every effort is made to open the records for research as expeditiously as possible. The policies of the institution, however, require that some of St. Mary’s Seminary & University records be closed to researchers for varying lengths of time.
Placing restrictions on the research use of records for specified lengths of time is a standard archival procedure. Restrictions of reasonable length also facilitate research by ensuring the survival and completeness of the historical record.
All records transferred to the Archives are stored under secure conditions and in a controlled environment. Access to the area where the records are stored is restricted to Archives staff members and other authorized personnel. Removal of records from the Archives is prohibited unless authorized by the Director of the Associated Archives (the "Director").
Authorized personnel from St. Mary's Seminary & University offices
may arrange for the transfer of records to the Archives or their
retrieval at anytime. Please see the
Records Transfer page for detailed instructions.
Records in the St. Mary’s Seminary & University Archives will be open to qualified researchers for use under the supervision of the Director after 70 years from the date of their creation, except for employee files and any other records restricted by federal or state or canon law or otherwise classified as confidential by St. Mary’s Seminary & University.
Categories of Records
The Access policy is based on a four-part categorization of records series: open, restricted, confidential, and closed.
Publications, photographs, other records created for public dissemination and records designated as historical in nature are available to researchers without restriction. Records more than 70 years old from the "Restricted" series are treated as open for purposes of access unless otherwise stated.
When necessary, records older than 70 years old may be closed to research use if they have not been reviewed and processed sufficiently to ensure their preservation and to identify any records that may require closure for longer than the stated duration.
Records, excluding exempted collections, are closed for 70 years beginning on the date on which the President, Rector, or President-Rector leaves office. The restriction applies to the entire body of records created during the President, Rector, or President-Rector’s tenure.
Researchers may appeal to gain access to restricted records by submitting a Restricted Records Access Request Form. Access may be granted only after the Director has received written notice of permission from the President-Rector or his authorized representative specifying exactly which folders and boxes the user may examine. A Restricted Records Access Request Form can be obtained from the Director.
Records containing sensitive files for which access is granted only after the President-Rector or his authorized representative physically reviews the files and provides written permission.
Personnel files of current or former employees of St. Mary’s Seminary & University (administrators, staff, and faculty) are closed for the lifetime of the employee plus 50 years, or 100 years from the date of creation, whichever comes first. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, an employee file may be released upon receipt of the written request of the employee or his or her legal representative.
Use of Records in Connection with Cases at Law or Legal Proceedings
Requests for permission to examine the records of the President, Rector, or President-Rector in connection with cases at law or legal proceedings of any kind will be referred to St. Mary’s Seminary & University legal counsel.
Appeals to gain access to restricted records
Appeals to gain access to restricted records shall be conducted in the following manner:
1) Researchers seeking access to restricted records are required to complete a Restricted Records Access Request Form.
2) Each request will be reviewed by the Director and the President-Rector or his authorized representative.
3) Decisions will be based on the merits of each case, weighing the needs of scholarship against the privacy rights of individuals and the legal interests of St. Mary’s Seminary & University. The Director and the President-Rector or his authorized representative must be satisfied that a researcher seeking access to restricted records has demonstrated that the records are required to carry out a legitimate scholarly research project or for other appropriate use. In all cases, the decision of the Director and President-Rector or his authorized representative shall be fair and reasonable, permitting the greatest possible access given the limitations imposed by legal and ethical considerations.
4) In order to come to such a decision, the Director and the President-Rector or his authorized representative shall meet, review the research proposal of the scholar petitioning for access, examine the materials to which he or she is requesting access, and discuss the case. In cases where the materials are voluminous, the Director shall review them and summarize their nature and content for the President-Rector or his authorized representative, presenting individual documents of particular concern. In cases of requests for innocuous materials, a less formal review process may be invoked consisting of a telephone call by the Director to the President-Rector or his authorized representative.
5) Decisions made by the Director and the President-Rector or his authorized representative shall be final.
Restricted Records Access Request Form
The artifact collection is limited to a small number of commemorative items and portrait paintings of the former presidents of St. Mary's Seminary and St. Charles College.
Audio/Visual. Date span: c. 1950-1970.
The audio/visual collection is made up of audio recordings of the St. Mary's Seminary Choir, Paca Street and Roland Park, over the period c. 1955-1970. Among the recordings are The Story of Christmas in Scripture, Verse, and Carol, Christmas Carols, and Catholic Hymns.
See Collection Description for the Associated Sulpicians of the United States for information on the 8mm and 16mm films that contain footage of St. Mary’s Seminary, Roland Park.
St. Mary’s Seminary & University (est. 1791). Size: 196 records storage boxes, 50 document cases, and 175 registers and ledgers; date span: c. 1791-.
This collection contains the records of the Seminary from its founding in 1791 and includes official correspondence, records regarding administrative, financial, legal, and curriculum matters, student and faculty lists, faculty meeting minutes, student registers, and publications, including the Voice of St. Mary’s Seminary. Course catalogs are available from 1894.
The Liberal Arts College of St. Mary’s Seminary & University (1969-1977). Size: 36 records storage boxes; date span: c. 1969-1977.
St. Mary’s Seminary College came into being when the junior college division of St. Charles’ College was united with the philosophy department of St. Mary’s Seminary. The college was located on the campus of St. Charles’ and was closed in 1977.
This collection contains the records of the seminary college for the years it operated and includes official correspondence, records regarding administrative, financial, legal, and curriculum matters, student and faculty lists, and faculty meeting minutes. A complete set of yearbooks and course catalogs are also available.
Ecumenical Institute of Theology (est. 1968). Size: 4 records storage boxes; date span: c. 1967-1981.
In 1968, in response to the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, St. Mary’s president, John Dede, S.S., and the seminary faculty, encouraged by Cardinal Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore and Bishop Harry Lee Doll of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, established the Ecumenical Institute of Theology as an evening graduate program for people of all faiths.
The Institute’s mission is to offer accredited ecumenical theological education at the Master of Arts level to qualified men and women in the greater Baltimore area, as well as to promote ecumenical and interfaith understanding in a pluralistic society.
This collection contains administrative files regarding the founding and early years of the Institute, including its participation in the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Baltimore. A set of course catalogs is also available.
St. Mary’s Seminary & University Collection. Size: 1 records storage box, 10 document cases, and oversize; date span: c. 1891-present.
Includes interior and exterior shots of the Paca Street and Roland Park campuses, as well as photographs of the faculty, student body, and seminary activities and events.
Liberal Arts College of St. Mary’s Seminary & University Collection. Size: 1 document case, date span: c. 1969-1977.
Includes photographs of the student body and seminary activities and events.
The publications collection is comprised of course catalogs for St. Mary's Seminary & University, 1894-, St. Mary's Seminary College, 1969-1977, and the Ecumenical Institute of Theology, 1969-, together with the following institutional publications: Voice of St. Mary's Seminary, 1924-1970, Alumni Bulletin, 1970-, Annual Reports, 1974-, and Class Notes, 1999-.