Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Henry Joseph Browne papers, 1797-1980

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 J.
Title Henry Joseph Browne papers, 1797-1980
Physical Description 18.9 linear feet ( 41 boxes and 1 flat box)
Language(s) English , Italian , French , Latin , Spanish; Castilian .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in 3 series.


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.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

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

Related Materials

Part of Abraham Lincoln collection MS#2028: Lincoln, Abraham To John Hughes, Washington, D.C., 21 October 1861, 1 a.l.s.; 2 pages


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of Flavia Alaya, 1986.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers: Source of acquisition--Alaya, Flavia. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--07/11/86. Accession number--M-86-07-11.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers Processed CEH 07/--/08.

Revision Description

2009-02-12 File created.

2009-04-15 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

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.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Biographies (literary works) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


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

History / Biographical Note

Biographical sketch

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.