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Historical Documents

In a canonization cause a complete historical study of the candidate has to be accomplished from the person’s birth to death.  In the case of Blessed Marianne Cope there is an incredible amount of historical documentation and many documents are strikingly significant.   

It gives one an idea of the documents that have historical import when one considers that  27 volumes of research were collected  by the Historical Commission looking into Mother Marianne’s life and virtue.  These were submitted after an intensive study to Vatican historians and theologians whose members studied further the evidences that led them to rule affirmatively on Mother Marianne’s heroic sanctity.  

It also is important to note that many volumes of records involving her work day were gathered and yet only reported upon.  The Vatican was free to call them in for scrutiny if more information was required about her daily duties.  Unsurprisingly, they did not do so having much other adequate information.    

These important historical volumes are extant.  In the volumes Mother herself registered many patients individually at the first hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., and at the hospitals for leprosy patients in Honolulu and then at the Molokai settlement. 

A few of the key historical documents on hand are the following:


  • Religious community letters: those involving the beginning of the first Syracuse hospital, St. Joseph’s

  • Registers of St. Joseph Hospital, Syracuse, N.Y. during her time in the 1870s at St. Joseph’s, Syracuse


  • A certificate testimonial signed by the King of Hawaii in 1885 for the occasion of Mother receiving the royal medal of Kapiolani for her humanitarian services to the Hawaiian people (in Blessed Marianne Cope Museum, Syracuse)

  • Individual written responses of Sisters preserved by Mother from sisters whom she asked to go to Molokai with her from the Honolulu area (in Blessed Marianne Cope Archives, Syracuse)

  • A series of letters from officials of the Board of Health in Honolulu. These documents first establish her as the chosen successor of Fr. Damien DeVeuster at Boys’ Home after his death and then the business carrying on the work. (Hawaii State Archives, Honolulu)

When L.V. Jacks wrote the first biography of Mother Marianne in the mid-1930s,  he wrote mostly from memoirs on hand written by Sisters who worked with Mother Marianne in the Hawaiian Misssion. These documents are in the Archives of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse. 

It was only after this time huge collections of resource materials about the Hawaiian mission were organized and made available by the Sacred Hearts Archives in Rome and by numerous archives in Hawaii. These documents fill in the social, political, religious and scientific setting of Mother Marianne’s time in Hawaii. 

These archives and other sources were researched for materials with fruitful results during the canonization inquiry.

Archival Sources and Public Records (researched during inquiry time for Mother Marianne’s cause)

The definitive biography of Mother Marianne, "Pilgrimage and Exile" (aka "Song of Pilgrimage and Exile") written in 1982 and later updated is founded primarily upon manuscript sources.  The list given here of these sources has been limited to the most important collections of documents.

Unless otherwise specified, original documents cited here (or authenticated copies of them) are kept in the Blessed Marianne Cope Archives of the Sisters of St. Francis at their  Motherhouse on Court St. Community records are kept at their nearby Generalate Offices, at 2500 Grant Blvd., both located in Syracuse, New York 13208.

West Germany:  Heppenheim, SE Hessen:  St. Peter’s Parish:  Record of Births (and baptisms), vol. 1831 – 1837 and vol. 1838 – 1842; Marriage Records, vol. 1810 – 1829 and vol. 1830 – 1836.

United States

Utica, New York

  • St. Joseph-St. Patrick Parish:  Record of Baptisms, 1842 – 1866; Record of Marriages, 1842 – 1901; Record of Deaths, 1842 –1897;

  • Oneida County Office Building:  Record of Mortgages 1842, 1845 and city maps;

  • Utica Public Library:  Population Census Records of Oneida County, 1850, 1855, 1860, 1865, 1870, 1875; Utica City Directories, 1840 –1900;

  • Oneida Historical Society,  photos of early Utica and Barbara Kopp file;

  • St. Elizabeth Hospital, Records of the Meetings and Acts of the Board of Trustees of the Incorporation of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Home (1870 – 1885).

Rensselaer, New York

Archive of Friars Minor Conventual, Immaculate Conception Province:  Acta Prov. Imm. Con. BMV  1871 – 89:  Ad Historiam Provinciae.

Syracuse, New York

  • Roman Catholic Chancery, Sadlier’s Catholic Directories for 1860s and 1870s;

  • Onondaga County Public Library, New York State Census of 1875 for Onondaga County; microfilm collection of early Syracuse newspapers; Syracuse City Directories for 1870s and 1880s;

  • Onondaga Historical Association, reference file of newspaper clippings about St. Joseph Hospital in 1869, 1870s and 1880s;

  • St. Joseph Hospital Health Center, Registers 1869 – 1884;

  • Archives of the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order Minor Conventual:  Community Record Books:  General Chapters.  Book 1, 1863 – 1876 and 1863 – 1940 (the 1863 - 1877 entries have been copied into the second book and the record continues to 1940); Record of Perpetual Vows 1861 – 1883 and 1884 – 1915; Record of Professed Sisters 1861 – 1900s; Record of Professed Sisters.  Book 1.  English Translation 1861 – 1883; Council Meetings.  St. Anthony Motherhouse 1891 – 1905; Corporation Meetings III Franciscan Order 1862 – 1893; Investing and Profession Chapters 1870 – 1921; Record of Novitiate 1872 – 1903; Mission Record Books:  History and Chapters at St. Clara Convent, Utica, NY, 1860 – 1871; St. Francis and St. Anthony Convents, Syracuse, NY., 1862 – 1866; St. Teresa Convent, Monthly Meetings, Oswego, NY, monthly meetings, 1866 – 1898; St. Joseph Hospital Minute Book, Syracuse, NY, 1870 – 1922.  Official Correspondence of Hawaiian Mission preserved by Mother Marianne:  Before Hawaiian Mission 1883:  Copies of business letters at St. Joseph Hospital and St. Anthony Convent, Syracuse, New York 1872 – 1883; letters of Father Fidelis Dehm, Minister Provincial, 1867 – 1872; letters of Sister M. Dominica Cumming, 1882 – 1883; Hawaiian Mission Correspondence 1883 – 1918:  emissary:  Father Leonor Fouesnel.

Archival Letters Preserved by Mother Marianne in Hawaiian Mission

Government and Board of Health Officials

Walter M. Gibson, Dr. George Trousseau, Samuel M. Damon, Dr. N. B. Emerson, W. O. Smith, Dr. Charles Cooper, Lucius E. Pinkham, Lorrin A. Thurston.  Vicars Apostolic:  Bishop Hermann Koeckemann, Bishop Gulstan Ropert, Bishop Libert Boeynaems.

Franciscan Ministers Provincial

Father Joseph Lesen, Father Francis Neubauer, Father Louis Miller.  Provincial Superiors:  Mother M. Delphine Mueller, Mother M. Johanna Kaiser,  Mother M. Margaret Haskin.

Agents of Board of Health in Hawaii

R. W. Meyer, John McVeigh.

Letters of Sister Volunteers for Molokai in 1888

Circular Letters from Religious Superiors

Letters from Others

H. P. Baldwin, C. R. Bishop, Edward Clifford,  Mr. Joseph Dutton, Father Wendelin Moellers, Father Joseph Julliotte.

Records Preserved by Mother Marianne

  • Branch Hospital Records

  • Bishop Home Records

  • The Origin and History of St. Elizabeth Convent, Kalaupapa

  • The Record of St. Elizabeth Convent, Kalaupapa

  • Journals of Mother Marianne 1900, 1901, and Jottings 1903 – 1905

  • Notebook of Mother Marianne containing copies of letters received by the sisters and by Joseph Dutton relating to work at Molokai

  • Copies of letters relating to important mission business 1884 – 1917. 

Hawaiian Mission Correspondence Collected by Sisters of Third Franciscan Order 

  • Letters preserved by sister authorities

    • Sister M. Bonaventure Caraher to Mother M. Bernardina Dorn
    • Mother Marianne to Mother M. Bernardina Dorn, Mother M. Delphine Mueller, Mother M. Johanna Kaiser, and Mother M. Margaret Haskin. 
  • Letters preserved by other sister companions

    • Mother Marianne to Sister M. Cyrilla Erhard, Sister M. Ephrem Schillinger, Sister M. Magdalene Miller, Sister M. Elizabeth Gomes, Sister M. Helena Haas, and Sister M. Albina Sluder
    • Letters of Mother Marianne to Paul Cope and Mary Kiyoji
  • Writings of Franciscan Sisters of the Hawaiian Mission

    • Little History of the Lepers of Bishop Home, Kalaupapa, Molokai 1896 – 1901, by Sister M. Leopoldina Burns. 
    • Franciscan Sisters in Hawaii, by Sister M. Columba O’Keeffe, 1923; Sisters Coming to Hawaii, by Sister M. Antonia Brown, 1929.
    • Notes of Sister M. Albina Sluder
  • Impressions of Mother Marianne by Contemporaries:  in 1927, Mother Margaret Haskin encouraged each sister who had lived with Mother Marianne to write her impressions of her, saying that “if at any time the canonization should be begun, the more letters we have in that regard, the better for this worthy cause."  Impressions were written by Sister Crescentia Eilers, Sister M. Benedicta Rodenmacher, Sister M. Antonia Brown, Sister M. Elizabeth Gomes, Sister M. Albina Sluder, and Sister M. Columba O’Keeffe.

  • The Journals of Sister M. Leopoldina Burns are undated, although apparently they were begun in the 1920s at the direction of Sister Flaviana.  Both an original set of notebooks and a rewriting of the same with more development of incidents are extant.  In the latter set there are 56 chapters in 15 notebooks.  Sister Leopoldina also wrote a Little History of Mother Marianne’s Work which contains selections from the journals.

South Bend, Indiana

  • Archive of the University of Notre Dame

    • Letters from “Brother" Joseph Dutton and Charles Warren Stoddard to Father Daniel Hudson
    • Letters from Father L. L. Conrardy and Joseph Dutton.

Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Archive of Roman Catholic Chancery:  Journal of Brother Bertrand 1882 – 1885; Diary of Father Wendelin Moellers 1895 – 1907; Bishop Koeckemann Correspondence, including letter from Mother Marianne dated September 15, 1888, defining spiritual needs to be met before she will accept mission to Molokai. 

  • Archive of State of Hawaii:  Hansen’s Disease Records 1884 – 1919; Minute Books of the Board of Health 1881 – 1919; Board of Health Letterbooks 1884 – 1917. 

  • University of Hawaii:  microfilm collection of (selected) letters from Sacred Hearts priests and brothers of the Hawaiian Mission.


Rome, Italy

  • Surviving original letters from Sacred Hearts fathers and brothers of the Hawaiian Mission (of which a microfilm collection is available in Honolulu).

  • Le Pere – Vie et Documents, three-volume manuscript.