Children on Selma sidewalk

Archives - Selma and Southern Missions

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The largest single collection in the archives is the Edmundite Southern House records.  This collection includes the records from the work of the Society of Saint Edmund in the Southern United States.  The Society of Saint Edmund is a clerical religious congregation of the Roman Catholic Church founded in France in 1843.  They first settled in America in 1891, and moved their general administrative offices to Vermont in the 1930’s.  Soon after, the Society began to seek ways in which it could meet the call of the church to serve the “Negro and Indian populations of North America.” In January 1937, Bishop Thomas Toolen of Mobile (AL) invited the Society to “establish a mission among the colored population in Selma.” The Society responded quickly. By July 1937, three Edmundites were serving in Selma. Over the years, the work of the Edmundites expanded to include:

  • Work in parishes and schools throughout Alabama, (especially in Selma, Anniston, Mobile and the Gulf coast), in Elizabeth City and Wake Forest, NC, in New Orleans, LA and in Caracas, Venezuela.
  • Sponsorship of the Good Samaritan Nursing Home and Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma from the 1940s until their closure in the 1980s
  • The Don Bosco Boys Club
  • The Good Samaritan School of Practical Nursing, the first school of practical nursing for black students in Alabama

 More recently, the Edmundites have sponsored learning centers, health clinics, nutrition centers, and other social service organizations in Dallas, Wilcox, Monroe, and Lowndes Counties in Alabama, and have maintained parishes and a school in Louisiana.

 The Society members were often the only whites regularly engaging with the African American population in their chosen locations. As the civil rights movement took hold, the Edmundites had a unique role, especially as their institutions were an established part of the social fabric of the community. Members of the Society were eyewitnesses to events integral to twentieth century America. Other members of the Society were deeply involved in the civil rights movement.

 Collections of Note

 Edmundite Publications  (Available in the Archives)

  • Edmundite Newsletter  Vol. 4, no. 2 Feb. 1963-[v.8,n.4 June/July 1966)
  • Your Newsletter  Selma, AL Easter 1944 not first issue]-Aug. 1957
  • Your Edmundite Missions Newsletter  Oct. 1957-200
  • Southern Lights : A Newsletter for the Edmundite Southern Region 

 Selected Books


 Sample Searches

African American Catholics

Catholic Church Alabama

Catholic Church North Carolina

Civil Rights Alabama

Civil Rights North Carolina


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