First Primary Sources

Over the last two weeks I have been able to do a preliminary reading of two primary sources:

  1. Delanglez, Jean. Life and Voyages of Louis Jolliet, 1645-1700. Loyola University of Chicago. Institute of Jesuit History. Publications. Chicago: Institute of Jesuit History, 1948.
  2. Pease, Theodore Calvin, and Raymond Clarence Werner. The French Foundations, 1680-1693. Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, Vol Xxiii. French Series, Vol. 1. Springfield, Ill.: Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1934.

Both of these sources are located at Loyola University Chicago’s Cudahy Library. Life and Voyages of Louis Jolliet, 1645-1700 was compiled and written by Father Jean Delanglez, S.J., Ph. D. for the Institute of Jesuit History (Loyola University Chicago) in 1948. This source provides Father Delanglez scholastic argument in response to the original letters or writings of seventeenth-century Jesuit missionaries including Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet.

Though my complete understanding of apparent biases is still being developed, we can still see the (obvious) influence God has on these missionaries, even when writing about survival and the loss of missionary companions:

Louis Jolliet: [Letter]

“…my canoe capsized and I lost my men and a box werein were all my papers, my journal…I am much grieved over the loss of a ten year old slave who had been presented to me. He was of a good disposition, quick-witted, diligent, and obedient. He could express himself in French, and was beginning to read and write. I lost consciousness, and after four hours in the water, I was found by fishermen who never go to this place and who would not have been there if the Blessed Virgin had not obtained for me this grace from God, Who stayed the course of nature in order to rescue me from death.” (June 1674) (p.131)

The only immediate limitation of this source could be that the primary references exist within a secondary source’s comments. Although, I believe I may be able to find these letters and writings outside of this specific printed edition.

In comparison to Delanglez’ source, Theodore Pease’s work, The French Foundations, provides a direct translation to writings about the French frontier. Though not specifically referencing the Jesuit missionary efforts, pages 255 to 259 directly express France’s Indian trade policy–relevant to my understanding of Indian/French slave trading.

This source specifically mentions the King of France’s ordinance (May 2, 1681) that clearly outlined colonial policy for dealing with Indians and avoiding conflict with the Iriqouis. What I find interesting about this section is the fact that it does not specifically mention acquiring slaves from Indians, in exchange for presenting gifts, but it does, however, emphasize the importance of limiting and preventing French acceptance of reciprocal Indian gifts and further trading. The fact that I can not find a specific reference to Native American slavery is unusual, especially because it was through this French practice of presenting gifts that Marquette and other Jesuits received slaves during their missionary activities.

To digress, these last two weeks have provided me with the opportunity to start working with primary sources. At the moment, I am trying to get a stronger idea of what specific missionaries I want to investigate and trying to find the proper balance of incorporating information on Native American slavery and captive practices during this period.

The most surprising aspect of looking at these sources was how common it is for a book to include both the original French writing and the equivalent English translation with footnotes. If only I knew French, then I’d be able to better interact with these sources!

-Rob Baurley


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