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   Henry Joseph Browne Papers 1797-1980 (bulk 1944-1980).

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Henry Joseph Browne Papers, 1792-1980; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information


Historian, archivist, social activist, and Roman Catholic priest, Browne taught at Catholic University of America (where he also served as University Archivist); St. Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y.; Cathedral College; and Rutgers University. He was active in community affairs in New York and Paterson, N.J. His primary research interests were John Hughes, first archbishop of New York, and labor and church history.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS# 0158
Bib ID:4078408 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Browne, Henry Joseph, 1919-1980.
Title:Henry Joseph Browne Papers 1797-1980 (bulk 1944-1980).
Physical description:18.9 linear ft 41 document boxes and 1 flat box.
Language(s): Material is in English, Latin, Spanish, French, and Italian.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »



Items arranged in two series:

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Scope and Content

The collection contains material related both to Browne's work as an activist and an academic. A significant portion of the collection consists of Browne's research material on John Hughes, including Hughes's correspondence, letter books, and scrapbooks.

Series I: Research and Scholarship,1792-1980

The Research and Scholarship Series contains Browne’s research material, published articles and drafts, and lecture and reading notes

Subseries 1: John Hughes Biographical Materials, 1792-1956

This Subseries, which forms the bulk of the Research and Scholarship series, contains primary materials relating to Archbishop John Hughes, such as Hughes’s original correspondence and topical files, both arranged alphabetically. Hughes’s correspondence files include letters from such notable figures as Abraham Lincoln, Popes Leo XII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX. William Henry Seward was also a regular correspondent. This subseries also contains typescripts and microfilmed copies of Hughes’s correspondence, as well as his letterbooks and scrapbooks. Additionally, the subseries contains material collected by other would-be biographers of Hughes, including an unpublished manuscript of a Hughes biography by Peter Guilday.

Subseries 2: Scholarly Research-- Church and Social History, 1947-1980

This subseries is comprised of Browne’s research materials and published articles, including his master’s thesis, and extensive notes he used to prepare and present his classroom lectures. These files indicate Browne’s interest in church and social history.

Series II: Personal and Professional, 1944-1980

This series relates to Browne’s professional duties as a priest, academic, and an archivist, as well as his involvement in community and social justice organizations.

Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1944-1980

The correspondence subseries includes one run of correspondence that is arranged chronologically, and one run of Browne’s correspondence that is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. There is no significant difference in the content or research value of these runs.

Subseries 2: Topical Files, 1949-1980

This subseries contains files relating to Browne’s political and professional life, including his work with the New York City Council Against Poverty, and his work with faith-based social justice organizations including the Catholic Committee Urban Ministry. These files are arranged alphabetically.

Series III. Urban Planning and Community Organizing, 1959-1979

This series chronicles Browne's involvement in urban planning and urban renewal initiatives in New York City and Paterson, New Jersey.

Subseries 1: Paterson, New Jersey, 1972-1979

This subseries contains Browne's files relating to his work with organizations such as the Paterson Coalition, a coalition of local community organizations working together for the general betterment of their community, and local groups committed to historic preservation.

Subseries 2: West Side Urban Renewal, 1959-1979

This subseries documents Browne's involvement in issues of urban renewal on New York's Upper West Side. Notably, it documents the development and early activities of the Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council and Strycker's Bay Housing Development, including correspondence, meeting minutes and agendas, and manuscript and printed material dealing with the development of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Librarian for Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Henry Joseph Browne Papers, 1792-1980; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers Processed 07/08 Carrie Hintz

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion February 12, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-02-12 File created.
    2009-04-15 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Catholic Church--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Catholic Church.--Archdiocese of New York (N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
City planning--New Jersey--Paterson.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
City planning--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cooke, Terence, 1921-1983.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fordham University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Guilday, Peter, 1884-1947.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hughes, John, 1797-1864.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McCloskey, John, Cardinal, 1810-1885.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rutgers University.--Dept. of History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ryan, William Frederick, 1926-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Seward, William Henry, 1801-1872.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Spellman, Francis, 1889-1967.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Weed, Thurlow, 1797-1882.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Father Henry Joseph Browne, born in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan in 1919, was an historian, archivist, and community activist. He entered the Catholic priesthood as a young man and devoted himself, for a while, to a scholarly and ecclesiastical life. He received his Ph.D. in history from the Catholic University of America where he went on to serve as a faculty member in church history and the University Archivist. Upon leaving that position he returned to New York to teach first at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, then Cathedral College, and finally Rutgers University in New Jersey.

His primary research interests were in social and labor history as well as church history, particularly in New York City. He published a number of pamphlets and articles on these issues, and a book on the history of the Catholic Knights of Labor. Additionally, he did extensive research on and drafted a biography of John Hughes, the first archbishop of New York.

Upon Browne's return to New York after his tenure at the Catholic University of America, he became deeply involved in left-wing political activities and made a name for himself as a committed community and anti-war activist in the 1960s. He was active in both religious and secular social justice organizations such as the New York City Council against Poverty, the Catholic Committee on Urban Ministry, and the Priests' Senate. He strongly opposed the urban renewal activities displacing lower income tenants on New York's Upper West side and worked actively with community housing organizations such as the Strycker's Bay Housing Development to retain low-income housing options in New York City.

In the last decade of his life Browne left the priesthood, though he was never officially defrocked, and settled in Paterson, NJ with his long-time partner, Flavia Alaya, and their three children. He took a job with Rutgers University and continued teaching almost until his death in 1980.

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