Founded in 1791 by the Priests of 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 seminary opened a second campus in the Roland Park section of the city that housed the School of Theology. Paca Street 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 transferred 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 Sulpicians 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 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 and are arranged according to the record series listed below. Please see the Collection Access Policy for information on the procedures regarding access to and use of the records.
Note: The U.S. Provincial of the 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.
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 your name, date of birth, address to which the 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; and 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 artifact collection is limited to a small number of commemorative items and portrait paintings of the former presidents of St. Mary’s Seminary & University and St. Charles’ High School College.
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. Researchers are able to access records through 1944.
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-.