Black Catholic periodicals

Thanks to our volunteer Andy Staszkiw for his help with this post.

PAHRC’s significant collection of periodicals includes newspapers and journals related to black Catholics. Among these are the earliest newspapers published by and for the black Catholic community. These newspapers also covered issues relating to the African American community in a broader sense.

According to Cyprian Davis, author of The History of Black Catholics in the United States, the black Catholic laity emerged as a cohesive and influential force during the last couple decades of the 19th century. In November 1889, a number of prominent men (the actual number is not known) gathered in Baltimore for the first black Catholic lay congress in the country’s history.

The emergence of this community was largely due to the efforts of Daniel Rudd, the “leading Catholic representative of the Negro Race.” It also appears to have been due to the significant increase in missionary work among African Americans around this time as evidenced by the considerable number of journals devoted to black Catholic missions that began to be published towards the end of the 19th century.

It was in 1886 that Daniel Rudd started the weekly black newspaper American Catholic Tribune, initially titled Ohio State Tribune in Springfield, Ohio. The newspaper was then published in Cincinnati before moving to Detroit where it continued to operate until 1899. Rudd noted the paper would "give the great Catholic Church a hearing and show that it is worthy of at least a fair consideration at the hands of our race, being as it is the only place on this Continent where rich and poor, white and black, must drop prejudice at the threshold and go hand in hand to the altar."[1]

American Catholic Tribune, February 25, 1887

PAHRC has a fairly significant, though incomplete, run of the American Catholic Tribune from 1887 to 1894. According to WorldCat, only several libraries worldwide have this newspaper.

The Research Center also has several issues of The Journal, a weekly Philadelphia newspaper published in 1892 by Swann and Hart. Though it lasted less than a year, The Journal spoke to Philadelphia’s growing number of Black Catholics. It appears that PAHRC is the only institution that has this publication.

PAHRC also has a single issue of The Catholic Herald (February 18, 1905) which was published in Washington D.C. I have not been able to find any information about this publication. The paper was given official approbation by James Cardinal Gibbons and describes itself as “The only colored Catholic paper authorized by the Church.” Its masthead also read: “The Catholic Church is the only hope of the Negro.”

PAHRC’s collection of periodicals also includes several journals relating to black Catholic missions. Published by religious orders that devoted their missionary work to blacks, such as the Josephite Fathers, these journals not only offer insight into these orders and their activities, but also document the African American communities with which the orders interacted.

PAHRC has a significant, though incomplete, run of The Josephite Harvest, previously The Colored Harvest, from the first year of its publication in 1888 to 1956. Based in Baltimore and educated at St. Joseph’s Seminary, the Josephites established black missions throughout the country and abroad.

The Colored Harvest (October 1893)

A photograph of St. Francis school and church in Natchez, Missouri (October 1893 issue)

Photographs depicting May processions and high school graduates from several parish schools and academies in Baltimore and the surrounding area (July-August 1923 issue)

Other journals in PAHRC's collection include The Flight, published by the Institute of Mission Helpers in Baltimore, and Mission fields at home followed by Mission published by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia. Founded by Saint Katharine Drexel, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament devoted themselves to mission work among blacks and Native Americans.

[1] Cyprian Davis. The History of Black Catholics in the United States. New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1990.



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