The Jesuit Oregon Province Archives (JOPA) serves as the designated depository for key historical materials concerning the corporate history of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus as well as the personal files and contributions of its individual members. However, JOPA also reflects a much wider mission. Beginning with the indomitable Peter DeSmet, Jesuits have played a central role in the settlement of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and the establishment of Catholicism in these regions. Thus, while JOPA's primary purpose may be to collect and provide materials for research into the Jesuit and ecclesiastical history of the Northwest, it is also intended as a cultural resource for those to whom the Jesuits have ministered, especially the Native Americans.
The JOPA holdings will be particularly valuable for researchers of Native American languages and ethnology, of early Northwest/Alaska settlement and mission histories, and of regional ecclesiastical history. The principle subdivisions are:
The Archives were first formed in the 1920s by George Weibel, S.J. as an outgrowth of his research in Northwest Catholic History. In the late 1930s and early 1940s William Bischoff, S.J., another historian, added more materials and began to organize the holdings, but from 1943 onward JOPA became transformed by the lifetime commitment of Wilfred Schoenberg, S.J. The first director to receive formal training in archival administration, Schoenberg also retrieved quantities of neglected, often deteriorating records from Jesuit mission houses throughout the Northwest and Alaska and transferred them into the Archives. In 1958 the Archives were moved from the Jesuit scholasticate outside Spokane into a new library on the Gonzaga University campus. An earlier relocation, which in 1944 required a morning's labor of one student assistant with a laundry cart, now entailed an all-day effort of eleven men and three large trucks, each making at least four trips.
In 1992 the JOPA holdings were transferred again into the newly constructed Foley Center. As part of that move, a formal Agreement of Deposit was drafted whereby Gonzaga University assumed administrative responsibilities for the collections, while the Jesuit Oregon Province retained legal ownership and limited advisory oversight and assumed partial financial support. Gonzaga added a library faculty position in 1993 to manage and continue development of the JOPA collections.
For more information please call or write:
Jesuit Oregon Province Archives
Foley Center Library
502 E. Boone Avenue
Spokane, WA 99258
TEL: (509) 313-3814
FAX: (509) 313-5904