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Herman Joseph Heuser papers

Identifier: MC 1

Scope and Contents

This collection largely contains correspondence, both personal and professional in nature. A significant portion of the correspondence is between Heuser and prominent figures within the Catholic Church including Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore, Archbishop Patrick J. Ryan of Philadelphia, Katharine Drexel, and Thomas C. Middleton. Other correspondents include Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Princess Catherine Radziwill, Thomas Eakins and Leopold Stokowski. Some of the topics covered include Catholicity in Russia, church architecture, Catholic American Indians, and the religious aspects of the issue of vasectomy.

A significant amount of materials in the collection relates to Canon Patrick Augustine Sheehan of Doneraile, Ireland, specifically Sheehan's book, My New Curate, which appeared serially in Heuser's magazine. Other notable series include manuscripts by hymnist Emily Mary Shapcote, author of Mary, The Perfect Woman, which also appeared in the magazine. The manuscript materials of Sister Teresa of the Holy Ghost that addresses the history of the Order of the Holy Ghost are also included.

Items, such as drafts and research notes, deriving from Heuser's work with the American Ecclesiastical Review and The Dolphin, are also included. The collection also contains prayers, sermons, some genealogical information, and scrapbooks with miscellaneous materials.


  • Creation: 1811 - 1933
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1890 - 1925

Language of Materials

Most of the materials in the collection are in English, though some are written in German, French, Latin, and Italian.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Herman Joseph Heuser was born on October 23, 1851 in Potsdam, Germany. Heuser was the first child of Herman Joseph and Julia Neese Heuser, and had a sister two years his junior, Julia. Heuser attended secondary schools in Berlin, Germany and Breslau, Poland focusing on religious education. He also took classes in science, language, art and music. His family emigrated to the United States in 1867 leaving him behind to continue his studies in Poland.

Heuser immigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen and in 1868 he began to attend a diocesan preparatory seminary in Glen Riddle, PA , approximately 15 miles from Philadelphia. Heuser served as a ‘seminarian professor’ at Glen Riddle, leading instruction in Latin, French and Gregorian chants. In 1871 he began teaching at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary at its new campus in Overbrook, PA. He was ordained on February 2, 1876. He became a full time seminary professor and taught there for over fifty years. Heuser also served as an adviser to the Pontifical Commission on Anglican Orders in 1896. In 1905 Heuser received a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa from Pope Pius X. In 1907, during the controversy over Modernism, Heuser was appointed by the Apostolic Delegate as general censor for all Catholic publications in the United States.

Monsignor James Andrew Corcoran, also a faculty member at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and helped found theAmerican Catholic Quarterly Review. Heuser aided in editing the publication for 13 years. Through his involvement, he learned about the logistical aspects of running a publication such as scheduling, managing contributors and subscribers and financial concerns.

Heuser began editing theAmerican Ecclesiastical Review in 1889. Serving as the main contributor for theAER, Heuser used the motto “For the upbuilding of the Church” (1 Cor. 14:5) and in order to appeal to and benefit both priests and laity. As a supplement to the AER, Heuser published The Dolphin, a more basic Catholic magazine from 1900-1908. In both these publications attention was paid to music and the arts with articles about the history of Church music, architecture, art as well as included illustrations. Heuser used his position as editor to allow for a debate of diverse subjects and topics. Heuser served as the editor of the AER, with a brief interruption from 1914-1919 when Reverend William Turner took over, until 1927 when he turned over the publication to the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.

Heuser died on August 22, 1933.


10.8 Linear Feet (; 27 Boxes)


Herman Joseph Heuser, D.D. (1851-1933) was a Catholic intellectual and prolific writer who influenced scholarly circles and clerical life in the United States and abroad through his literary work. Heuser edited the American Ecclesiastical Review (1889-1975) as well as published The Dolphin (1900-1908), a Catholic literary magazine. These publications reflected Heuser's varied interests from clerical subjects to the arts. He published fourteen books, eight of which appeared serially in The Dolphin.

This collection includes primarily correspondence, sermons, prayers, scrapbooks, and personal writings. It also includes materials related to Patrick Augustine Sheehan.

Overview of Arrangement

The records are arranged in five series, three of which have been further arranged in subseries:

Series I. Correspondence

a. Incoming Correspondence

b. Outgoing Correspondence

c. Caroline B. Perot Letters

Series II. Patrick Augustine Sheehan

a. Incoming Correspondence

b. Outgoing Correspondence

c. Letters to Heuser about Sheehan

d. Miscellaneous

e. Manuscripts

Series III. Manuscripts

a. Emily Mary Shapcote Manuscripts

b. Sister Teresa of the Holy Ghost

c. Manuscript Materials

Series IV. Sermons

Series V. Miscellaneous

Other Finding Aids

This is a revised finding aid. The Ryan Memorial Library: Historical Collections previously published an extensive item-level finding aid to this collection circa 1960s: Heuser, Herman Joseph, D.D. Papers. 1872-1933 . A copy of the the older finding aid can be found here:


Accession number 1990.001.

Separated Materials

Materials misplaced into the collection that are dated posthumously have been removed.


  • Hubbert, Joseph G., CM. "'Less Brains and More Heart': Father Herman J. Heuser, Founder of the American Ecclesiastical Review." U.S. Catholic Historian 13 (1995): 95-112.

Processing Information

The arrangement of the collection as outlined in the original finding aid has been altered to allow for better access to materials within the collection.

Herman Joseph Heuser Papers
Amanda McKnight
; Summer 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Catholic Historical Research Center of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Repository

6719 Calvert Street
Philadelphia PA 19149