About Us

The Descendants of Jesuit Enslavement Historical and Genealogical Society documents, preserves, and interprets the history of Jesuit enslavement.

We create community by exploring genealogy and sharing the history through the lens of Descendants.

The Society also educates the public about those enslaved by Jesuit priests and the significance of their contributions to the formation of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.

The History of Jesuit Enslavement

The Jesuits owned and operated several plantations in colonial Maryland using the labor of enslaved persons. It was with the resulting proceeds of said plantations that the Jesuits were able to found and expand the Roman Catholic Church in what is now the United States of America. In addition to churches, the labor of the enslaved was used to establish all manner of Catholic organizations including institutions of higher learning, hospitals, and orphanages.

The Ancestors

The Jesuits continued their practice of slaveholding as they expanded the presence of Catholicism across the colonies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. During this time, they directly owned or borrowed enslaved laborers, many of whom they directly transported from their missions in Maryland. Some of those enslaved by the Jesuits were bequeathed or loaned to them by parishioners who funded Catholic expansion into the Western territories. In many cases, the Jesuits loaned enslaved laborers to other Catholic orders such as the Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Visitation. Research has identified ancestors enslaved by Jesuit priests at missions in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri. Our research efforts to discover the identities of those enslaved by the Jesuits continues.

The Descendants

Do you know if you have ancestors who were enslaved by the Jesuits?  Have you taken a DNA test and have learned that you are a DNA match to one of more known Descendants of Jesuit enslavement?  Join us weekly for conversations about the history of Jesuit enslavement, how we connect to that history and each other.

Documenting Our History

Records documenting the history of Jesuit slaveholding can be found in various places. Georgetown University is the repository for the archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, which documents Jesuit Order from its arrival in the English colonies in 1634 through its expansion. Additional information can be found at other Catholic University Archives, various Catholic Dioceses, state archives, libraries, courthouses and internet genealogical sources.

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© 2024 Descendants of Jesuit Enslavement Historical & Genealogical Society

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