The Summer 2023 edition of Pennsylvania History (90.3) is a special theme issue on “Exploring Catholic History in Pennsylvania”, Guest Edited by Kenneth Heineman of Angelo University. Dr. Heineman has chosen for “Pennsylvania History Presents” an article by Father David Endres of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology, The Athenaeum of Ohio, “The Elder Family: Intergenerational Slaveholding in Early American Catholicism.”
Abstract: For at least five generations, the Elder family held enslaved persons as part of their agricultural, commercial, and domestic pursuits in Maryland, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Though scholars have highlighted slaveholding by US religious orders, especially the Jesuits, little attention has been paid to how lay Catholics bought, sold, and treated their bondspeople. This study explores how the Elder family was connected to slavery, including the intergenerational transfer of human property—and the practices and mentality that sustained it.