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Winand Wigger papers

Identifier: ADN 0002-003

Scope and Contents

The collection focuses primarily on Wigger's tenure as Bishop of Newark from 1881-1901. Although Bishop Wigger died on January 5, 1901, the collection's documents span the years 1868-1919, as some documents are part of large record books.

Upon Wigger's consecration, the Newark Diocese, which previously encompassed the entire state, was divided. Bishop Wigger retained jurisdiction over the seven northern counties of Sussex, Morris, Passaic, Essex, Bergen, Hudson, and Union, which remained the Newark Diocese, and New Jersey's remaining counties were administered from the newly-established Diocese of Trenton.

The number of parishes, parishioners, parochial schools, and Diocesan institutions multiplied during Wigger's episcopate. A new immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe resulted in the creation of Italian, Polish, and Hungarian national parishes by 1900. The Bishop's attempts to manage the new groups, as well as controversies surrounding some established pastors, such as Patrick Corrigan in Hoboken and Sebastien Smith in Paterson, constitutes a major theme in the collection.

In addition, Wigger remained very active in America's German Catholic community, and this is reflected in the collection's documents. Documents and reports concerning New York's Leo House and several lengthy series of correspondence is written in German.

Bishop Wigger's entries in the Episcopal Register grew increasingly succinct throughout the years, and little of the rich narrative that characterizes the Bayley and Corrigan diaries is found. Wigger, in fact, was the last Bishop to maintain the Register, and even his entries for visitations, blessings, and ceremonies are scattered and incomplete.


  • 1864-1919

Conditions Governing Access

Temporarily closed to research.

Conditions Governing Use

All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.

Biographical / Historical

Winand Michael Wigger was born in New York City on December 9, 1841. His parents, John Joseph Wigger and Elizabeth Stucke, emigrated from Westphalia in the 1830s. After Winand's birth, they returned to Germany in 1842, but returned to settle permanently in the United States in 1845.

Wigger's early schooling included attendance at St. Francis Assissi Parochial School on 31st St., New York, N.Y., St. Francis Xavier's College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John's, Fordham in 1860. The future Bishop began his theological training at Seton Hall's Seminary in New Jersey, and received an M.A. there in 1862. Upon graduation, Wigger entered Brignole Sale Seminary in Genoa, Italy, where he was ordained by Archbishop Charvoz in 1865. While overseas, he briefly attended the University of Sapienza in Rome, and was accorded a Doctor of Divinity from the institution in 1869.

Following his ordination, Wigger served as Assistant Pastor of Newark's St. Patrick's Cathedral from 1866-1869. Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley then transferred the young prelate to St. Vincent's in Madison, Wisconsin, where he remained for four years. In 1873, Wigger assumed charge of the financially troubled St. John's parish in Orange, New Jersey. This rigorous assignment aggravated his chronically poor health, and he was reassigned to St. Teresa's church in Summit after eight months. Two years later, Wigger returned to St. Vincent's in Madison, and served there until 1881.

Bishop Michael A. Corrigan's elevation to the coadjutorship of the Archdiocese of New York created a vacancy in the Newark Diocese, and Leo XIII announced Winand Wigger's appointment in 1881. The new Bishop was consecrated in St. Patrick's of Newark on October 18th, but had assumed administrative charge of the Diocese since the preceding August. Wigger's 20-year episcopate coincided with the growth of immigration from southern and eastern Europe; continued controversy surrounding the parochial school system; the introduction of Byzantine Rite parishes into the Newark Diocese; and a New Jersey Catholic population approaching 300,000 by the time of his death.

The Bishop also actively participated in national Catholic affairs. He assumed a major role in the Third Plenary Council in 1884, served as president of Peter Paul Cahensly's St. Raphael Society in New York City, which was a German immigrant aid association, attended conventions of the Priester-Verein; and conducted a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1894.

Wigger's fragile health deteriorated steadily throughout his episcopate. Finally, after contracting pneumonia for the third time, the Bishop died on January 5, 1901.

More detailed biographical information might be obtained consulting Carl Derivaux Hinrichsen's "The History of the Diocese of Newark, 1873-1901", unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Catholic University, 1962; and the same author's chapter on "Winand Wigger" in the New Jersey Catholic Historical Records Commission's The Bishops of Newark, 1979, pp. 47-70. Other sources include Charles George Herberman's "Rt. Rev. Winand Michael Wigger, D.D., Third Bishop of Newark", 1901 (the mass. for this article being available in this collection), and Richard J. Purcell's short sketch in the Dictionary of American Biography


34.5 Linear Feet (, 74 boxes/containers)


Papers and records of Bishop Winand Wigger from his time as Bishop in the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Center from the Archdiocese of Newark pre-1980, in 1980, 1986, and 2006. Accession numbers 1986.0004.ADN, 2006.11.07.AC.

Related Materials

Michael A. Corrigan papers, 1870-1902, ADN 0002.002, in the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center.

Salt family letters, 1808-1917 (bulk 1850-1890), Mss 0035, in the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center.

Processing Information

Collection was processed and original finding aid created by the Archives and Special Collections Center circa 1980s, re-processed and finding aid encoded by Maura Kenny in 2009. Additional information for users, editing of descriptive information, addition of two folders and scope content note for Correspondence series, and creation of html finding aid by Tracy M. Jackson in 2012.
Winand Wigger papers, 1864-1919
Archives and Special Collections Center, Maura Kenny, Tracy M. Jackson
1980, 2009, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding Aid Written In English

Repository Details

Part of the The Monsignor Field Archives & Special Collection Center Repository

Archives, Walsh Library
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange NJ 07079 US