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Archives and Special Collections

Saint Joseph's College & Old Saint Joseph's Church

Saint Joseph's College (now Saint Joseph's University) was founded in 1851 by members of the Society of Jesus in Philadelphia. From 1851 to 1856 Saint Joseph's College held classes at Old Saint Joseph's Church located on Willing's alley near Independence Hall. As enrollment expanded, classes were moved to a more spacious building at Filbert and Juniper Streets, and later to a site on Stiles Street between Seventeenth and Eighteenth Streets where a preparatory school ( Saint Joseph's Prep) and a church (Church of the Gesu) would also be built.

In 1927 the College moved to its present location on City Avenue near the Overbrook Farms area of Philadelphia.  

Old Saint Joseph’s Church (OSJ) Collection (Parish Archives)

Most OSJ Parish records prior to the mid 1960's are housed in the SJU library.  Records include papers, books, objects, photographs, and other materials related to the history of the church, the Jesuits and Catholicism in Philadelphia and neighboring areas, including sacramental records dating back to 1758. OSJ Church is the oldest Catholic Church in Philadelphia. Saint Joseph’s College (now SJU) was founded by Father Felix Joseph Barbelin, S.J. who was one of the first pastors of OSJ church.

Genealogical Research using OSJ Records

For Genealogists:

Baptism and marriage records from 1758 to 1917 are available through Find my past

To find a baptism record from 1917 to February 1963, or a marriage record from 1917 to January 1, 1974, contact our archives:

For a baptism record after February 1963 or a marriage record after January 1, 1974, contact the Rectory office at Old Saint Joseph’s Church or phone 215-923-1733.