The end of the Journey

For me the best class of this class was simply being able to have this opportunity to partake in such a wonderful program. To be able to do research on Father Marquette and how his memory had affected history was truly a blessing in my life. More specifically I think the best part of the class was being able to have an opportunity to go into the archives and just do research. Having never had the chance to participate in such a large undertaking in my Loyola career it was a good challenge to move beyond secondary sources and into primary sources. I think my favorite moment was in the Marquette Archives when I found an article about Father Marquette that alleged that he had not been ordained a priest and that he was a fraud in all he had done. I think for me that was the ah-ha moment in which I decided what I wanted to focus my research project on. Those moments of revelation that the work felt that it was paying off.

The hardest part of this course would have to be having the freedom to work on the paper at my own pace. For me it was hard to be able to keep diligent on working on this paper at all times as I took a full 18 credit course load along with working and doing research with a professor and so it was hard at times to feel like I had time to work on this project as I had other assignments to do that were due sooner than this paper. This was not a product of the course, it more stemmed from my inability to manage my time as much as I wish I could have. I however, think it is more a product of the amount of coursework that I undertook this semester. Despite this I think that I was able to turn in a good paper that challenged me to grow as a historian.

I would say I made the most progress in my writing ability. Having the chance to write and rewrite my paper a few times it forced me to think critically about the words that I was using and how they fit into what I was trying to say. Having Dr. Karamanski and Marie read and give suggestions for how to improve my paper was very helpful in this process.

The other way that I would say I grew in this class was by challenging myself to think more critically about the past and how what happened in the past still influences today. This is something that I knew but this class and my topic in particular forced me to think about that even more.

If I had more time I would have liked to have spent more time delving into more modern secondary sources of historians trying to make sense of Marquette’s memory. But on a more practical note I wish that we had more time to work as a group to get tips and hear about how other people in the class are completing their project.


Abstract of the Final Paper

Abstract: Father Jacques Marquette started his life in a well to do French family with a plethora of possibilities in front of him. His decision to enter into the society of Jesus is one that had repercussions not only on his life but throughout the centuries to the present. He started a mission, converted native Americans, and lived his life in service to his God. However, these are not the only reasons that Marquette has been remembered as important to the history of the early United States. Marquette was part of the famous Jolliet-Marquette expedition that discovered the truth that the Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico rather than into the Pacific Ocean.

The only trouble is compared to other missionaries of the time Marquette was less successful as a missionary if only the numbers of missions founded and people converted. This points to a bigger question of why he is remembered. To discover that one must explore the history of his memory. Marquette does not appear in the literature until the 1850’s when John Gilmary Shea wrote about the discovery of the Mississippi River Basin. His accounts mark the beginning of an evolution of Marquette’s memory. Memorials to Marquette began to popup including one sponsored by the state of Wisconsin to place a statue of Marquette in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. as a model of American Citizenship in the late 1890s. Leaders on the National Stage commemorated the three hundredth anniversary of Marquette’s birth with speeches and celebrations. The memorialization of Marquette has been driven by those who wish to have a Catholic Priest be cemented in the historical memory of the United States in order to assist in the justification of their presence in the United States, especially in periods of anti-Catholic bigotry. However, these efforts inevitably silence other narratives of the past whether intentionally or unintentionally.


Thesis: Father Jacques Marquette’s memory grew out of a desire for Catholic-Americans to have a figure in the early period of American history indicating their contribution to the development of the United States as a country. This development silenced wholly or partially other important narratives of the events that occurred for that development to happen.


Why: This is important to recognize that there is always more than one version of history and that sometimes you must dig to see all sides of how and event or events occurred. But, I think it is worth noting that Marquette did not seek this fame, his actions would have been the same whether he knew that they would be immortalized in the fashion that they were. His goal was to help bring about the Kingdom of God on earth and not to be remembered as a great hero.

The Writing is Done, Now the Fun Begins… Revisions

For me receiving feedback is always a double-edged experience, like anyone else I appreciate receiving feedback that is positive and I dislike receiving feedback is negative. But, what I recognized this time around is that in order for me to write a better paper I need to accept the criticism that I have been given. The rough draft always has aspects about it that can be improved and the feedback that I received points to that fact. I am excited to get to edit my paper and make it better as I feel that it has the possibility of being a really good paper if I take the time to give it the attention that it deserves.

My plans for revisiting the paper involve starting with a reread to see if now that I have read the feedback that I have gotten to see if I notice any of the same things that Dr. Karamanski and Marie noticed. After that I might try to break up the paper with section headings to see if the paper has as much structure as I think that it does. The main reason for this is because I have a tendency to jump around in my writing and by trying to break it into sections and seeing if everything fits it will give a good way to determine if this is a trap I fell into.

I think the biggest hurdle for me to get over is that my paper is finished. The reason we are doing edits is because there is more to work on. By recognizing this I am able to start the process of editing without this feeling of the paper being done hindering my ability to work.

Easily the biggest thing for me to work on is addressing instances of passive voice in my paper. This will make my paper stronger sounding and result in a crisper cleaner prose that is pleasing to the reader. It also is simply a more academic form of writing that. What makes it a challenge is it is something that I have been working on for a long time, but it just means that I need to take more care in the rereading that I do in the times that I do take to edit my paper.

Despite the fact that there is a lot in my paper that needs attention and could be improved I believe that it does have a number of strengths that I can enhance moving forward. I believe that the stories that I have collected while spending time in the archives are very powerful and that if placed in a perfect nexus of stories then they will speak volumes to the story that I am attempting to portray. Another strength that my paper has is that it attempts to put into conversation the glorifying and more toned-down stories of Marquette to determine how and why he is remembered the way that he is. I do not focus simply on how Marquette is remembered positively I also bring up historians who wrote about him in a negative light.

Writers (un)Block

Beginning the draft process, I was excited to begin to fully synthesize the information that I had been researching for the past few months. I was inspired by what I had learned and wanted to do the topic justice. But what I found was that the actual writing process was much harder than I thought it would be. There were so many pieces of information that I had that it was difficult at times to determine what was and what was not important to my thesis. I found that at times I was tempted to shove every piece of information and every little anecdote into my paper but that was not always beneficial. But as hard as that was I think it was an important glance into the life that experience historians come across every day in their own work. This question of what is important to the story is one that is not just valid for this paper but for any work that I will ever put together. I think for my own sake it was frustrating trying to finish it all in the timeframe that I set forth for myself. I was unable to work on the paper over spring break and as a result had to write it in a much shorter time-period than I would have liked. So, I look forward to the editing process as it may have turned into a rough draft with an emphasis on the rough. Though as difficult as it was, writing this rough draft was an exercise in self-discipline and staying focused on what I was working on. I think the most satisfying part of working on the rough draft is watching how the paper kept growing and growing until I had the nearly eighteen pages about a topic that to some seems arbitrary but to me asks a set of important questions about who is remembered and why it is that people are remembered. I think where I need to work the most on my draft going forward is tightening the transitions between timeframes and between specific occurrences of memory as there are a large multitude of events relating to Marquette that it can be overwhelming at times to attempt to discover and synthesize all of them. I need to realize that I am only writing a paper and that I am not writing a whole book that is investigating Marquette’s life. To do this I think I may limit the amount of further research that I do this semester and simply work on tightening this paper and give more justice to Father Marquette and his memory.

I look forward to reading everyone else’s papers and see how the hard work that all of them have put into their topics. I also am excited to help everyone else edit their papers as it sometimes just takes an outside eye to help realize how you can better phrase what you are attempting to say.

The Journey Continues: The Outline

pexels-photo-892541.jpegThis blog post is meant to reflect on the experience of outlining our final paper. I started by coming up with a topic sentence to help guide the outline and I finally settled on “Marquette is remembered not because he was a missionary, not because he is an explorer, but because he can be created in a heroic fashion.” However, with any piece of writing until it is published there is the possibility that it will change slightly from this.

In the beginning of my planning to put together the outline of my paper I reread my notes to recall everything that I had discovered so far. This way when I went to write my outline I realized all the information that I had already collected. After I had done that I started to do what I can only describe as spewing words onto the page until I had what slightly resembled a rough outline. I went through and read what I had put down and filled in any holes that I noticed. It was not anything large that I left out, simply certain examples that were important for the story that I am trying to tell.

I tried to start from the beginning. It felt imperative that I include some biographic information on Marquette before I attempt to include any information about how he was and is remembered. I went through time chronologically in my outline so I knew I was in good shape when I reached the present day. In terms of the amount of information that I felt I needed to include in my outline I paid more attention to whether or not it fit in with my thesis and when I had gone through all of my notes and had found what did and did not fit I felt that it was an adequate position to stop.

I feel that the strongest part of my essay would be the section on the statue in Statuary Hall that is of Marquette. This is because I feel as if it gives a good representation of my other main points in the paper. It discusses challenges in remembering Marquette, you can see where some details are misconstrued from his life, and it has a connection to the present day.

In terms of potential gaps in my paper I think I may need to try and dig deeper into how it is that Native American groups remember Marquette. I have not done a ton of research in this regard yet so it would just be interesting to discover how he is remembered. Another gap to be covered would be the second half of the twentieth century. I have plenty of information in the earlier half but there is not a ton that I have found after the 1940s, one way to do this is to look and see if there were any large celebrations for the 300th anniversary of his death in 1975.

I think that I was surprised to realize how much information I had already collected on Marquette. I was feeling a little apprehensive on if I had done enough to be able to fill both an outline and then finally the final paper. But this exercise in writing the outline helped to assure me that not only am I on the right track but that I have enough information that being able to write the paper if feasible and an exciting next step in the journey.

Into the Library

Beginning this project, I was excited to start working with Primary source documents. As someone who is not majoring in history it has not been something that I have been privileged enough to do until now. My first time going into the Loyola Archives I was nervous and scared that I would get there and be overwhelmed and not know how to start reading the sources in front of me. However, when I got there I quickly settled in and began to enjoy myself as I started to read. The first folder of documents that I went through was that of a Father Gilbert J. Garraghan, S.J who worked in the History department at Loyola and researched Marquette for many years. Within I found a collection of correspondences from a Mr. Arthur J. O’Dea, a lawyer from New Jersey who was very interested in making sure that there were adequate celebrations planned for the tercentenary of Marquette’s birth. As I started reading the first one I thought that it was a single letter written from him to Garraghan and it was not until many letters later that I realized how many there were inside.

When I was reading the first few I could not read his signature and so I did not know who was writing the letters that I was reading, I only knew he was interested in the memory of Father Marquette. His letters span almost a year leading up to the three hundredth anniversary of Marquette’s birth. As I was reading through them I was struck by how interested this single lawyer from New Jersey was with how Marquette was remembered. What drove him to send letters to the postmaster general of the United States attempting to get him to issue a stamp commemorating Marquette? I suppose these are the types of questions that historians are always asking.

With my topic focusing on the memory of Father Marquette the number of primary sources that are available are abundant. I read an article published by a Franciscan name Francis Borgia Steck who argued that Marquette should not be remembered for discovering the Mississippi in Wisconsin as he was just along as a priest and was not in charge of anything.

I cannot help but think that it is possible that Mr. O’Dea’s Catholicism (he wrote many of his letters on paper from a retreat house named after Loyola) played a part into his appreciation of Marquette. Father Steck was a Franciscan, and the Franciscans do not always get along with the Jesuits so that may be part of his bias as to writing in opposition to the main narrative that is told about Marquette.

I have a limitation in the fact that there are so many sources out there that reference Marquette that I almost do not know where to begin. I am traveling up to Marquette University in a few days to work in their archives and they have multiple boxes of articles written about Marquette that I will have to decide what I want to read as I only have so much time to read them. Though this is a good problem for me to have. I look forward to continuing my research and discovering more in the weeks to come.

So it Begins!

My initial topic that I had planned on studying was the relationship between the Early French Jesuits and the fur trade in the Great Lakes Region during the seventeenth and into the 18th centuries. However, as I was progressing on my research I discovered that the connection was not an obvious one and it would require more time than I had available to me. As I searched for a new topic I was inspired by our visit to the archives at Marquette last semester. I found that there was a large folder with documents from Father Raphael Hamilton, a Jesuit who was the head of the History Department at Marquette from 1932-1956. One of the focuses of his research was on that of Marquette’s namesake Pere Jacques Marquette, a seventeenth century Jesuit who along with Louis Jolliet explored the great lakes region even coming to a place that is present day Chicago. What struck me was an article and collection of letters by a Father Joseph Short who believed that Fr. Marquette had never been ordained going against the entire shared memory of Marquette.

Marquette’s memory has a long history: his death site is a registered historic site in Michigan, there is a marker near Chicago that remembers where he wintered there in 1674-75, countless numbers of towns and parks are named after him, not to mention Marquette University. These memories portray a reverence to a man that explored much of the land in the Great Lakes, was a dedicated Jesuit, and a fervent missionary.

But, where did these memories come from?

What inspired the state of Wisconsin to donate a statue of Marquette to the United States Capital in 1896?

Why are there so many towns named after Marquette?

One of the more important questions about a person of fame is what are they famous for? He did explore much of the Great Lakes with Jolliet but is that it? Or is there more to the story?

These are some of the big questions going through my mind as I am starting to collect information about Marquette. For me it all comes down to why does Father Marquette receive all the attention whereas a martyr like Jean de Brébeuf is not remembered as much in the mainstream memory? The concept of who gets remembered and in what way is fascinating to me.

To discover how Marquette is remembered I am going to utilize the Loyola Archives that possess a large store of information on Jesuit History including the Illinois Catholic Historical Society Records and the Father Gilbert J. Garraghan papers. I am also going to take a short trip north and return to where it all began for me at the Special Collection at Marquette university where they have the Pere Marquette Collection and the Raphael Hamilton Papers. I have already found many articles written in the late nineteenth and throughout the twentieth centuries that focus on Pere Marquette and his Memory. All in all, I am very interested to see where my research takes me.