American Catholic History, Second Edition

A Documentary Reader

368 pages

8 illustrations

November, 2017

ISBN: 9781479874682



Add to Cart Available: 10/20/2017

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Mark Massa is Professor of Church History and Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. He is the author of The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever and Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team.

All books by Mark Massa

Catherine Osborne is Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology at Loyola Marymount University, and author of American Catholics and the Church of Tomorrow, 1925-1975

All books by Catherine Osborne

An overview in primary documents of almost four hundred years of the American Catholic experience 
Among the first European explorers of the Americas, Catholics have a long and rich history in the United States. In this collection of significant letters, diaries, theological reflections, and other primary documents, the voices of Catholics in this country reveal what they have thought, believed, feared, and dreamed. 
American Catholic History spans the earliest missionary voyages in the sixteenth century, to the present day, illuminating the complex history, beliefs, and practices of what has become North American Roman Catholicism. In an engaging and accessible style, the brief introductions to each text provide historical and biographical context and illuminate broad themes in the development of the American Catholic tradition. From Catholicism’s encounters with new frontiers to its long-time position outside mainstream culture, and from its intellectual life and political engagement to patterns of worship and spirituality, this book offers a lively first-hand review of Catholicism’s multifaceted history in the United States.  
This expanded edition includes 34 new documents, and offers more robust coverage of the diverse communities of Catholics in this country. 


  • "American Catholic History: A Documentary Reader included 70 documents that provided key insights into the lived experience of Catholics…[Editors] Mark Massa, S.J. and Catherine Osborne recently released an updated edition of the reader that carries the American Catholic story forward an additional two decades."

    US Catholic Journal

  • "The newly added documents better represent diverse viewpoints, e.g., those of African American Catholics and Spanish-speaking Catholics."


  • "This updated and revised edition is the go-to primary source reader to assign for any and all undergraduate and graduate-level courses on American Catholicism. Drs. Massa and Osborne have done a tremendous job curating a wide array of essential readings for scholars and students of Catholicism. This book fills an important niche in American Catholic Studies and is essential reading for scholars and students alike."

    —Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Professor and V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair of Catholic Studies, The University of Iowa

  • "The documents collected in the first edition topped the list of best resources for teaching the diversity and complexity of US Catholic history, and now this revised edition is even better.  From mission manager Eulalia Pérez in California in the 1800s to Pope Francis addressing Congress in 2015, the varied voices summon an astonishing story of solace and conflict in the Roman church, in the American nation, and in the human heart."

    —Julie Byrne, author of The Other Catholics: Remaking America’s Largest Religion