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John J. O'Connor papers

 Collection — Box: 30
Identifier: ADN 0002-004

Scope and Contents

O'Connor's papers are primarily from his tenure as Bishop of the Diocese of Newark. These papers are sketchy at best but do include letters to his family while he studied in Louvain, Belgium. Correspondence from Pope Pius X and copies of encyclicals are included in the collection. Visitation ledgers, legal documents relating to real estate transactions and bequests under wills, and episcopal documents relating to incorporation documents and letters concerning personnel questions are included. The papers of O'Connor's Vicar General, Rev. John Sheppard, and his Chancellor, Rev. Thomas Wallace are also in this collection.


  • 1873-1928 (bulk 1900-1927)
  • Majority of material found within 1900 - 1927

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

John Joseph O'Connor was born in St. James parish, Newark on June 11, 1855. He was the son of Thomas and Catherine Farrell O'Connor who immigrated from Ireland. Thomas O'Connor was a contractor and builder. John attended St. James parish school then moved to Bernard Kearney's School, a private institution located near to St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedra, Newark, NJ. He continued his education at Seton Hall Preparatory School and Seton Hall College in South Orange, NJ from which he graduated in 1873. He then was sent by Bishop Wigger to the North American College in Rome to prepare for the priesthood. John was ordained at the age of 22 in 1877. He spent an additional year at the American College in Louvain, Belgium before returning to the Diocese of Newark to begin his priestly assignments.

Father O'Connor spent the next seventeen years at Seton Hall College where he taught Philosophy and Theology and eventually became the director of the Seminary. During this time he served as chaplain to St. Mary's Orphanage in Newark, NJ and helped at various parishes on weekends. In 1895 he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Newark. At the same time he served as vicar general to Bishop Wigger.

Upon the death of Bishop Wigger, John Joseph O'Connor was appointed as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Newark and was consecrated on July 25, 1901 by Archbishop Michael Corrigan of the Archdiocese of New York, formerly the second Bishop of the Diocese of Newark. Bishop O'Connor served the people of Newark for the next twenty six years until his death in 1927.

During Bishop O'Connor's tenure the Catholic population of the Diocese increased from 290,000 to over 680,000. Churches, grammar and high schools, orphanages, homes for the aged, and hospitals increased in proportion. Approximately 122 parishes were started, of which 56 were national parishes to serve the growing immigrant communities. The numbers of priests and teaching sisters increased accordingly.

Bishop O'Connor died on May 27, 1927 at Bishop's House on the Seton Hall campus after having celebrated fifty years as a priest and more than twenty five years as the spiritual leader of the Catholics of the Diocese of Newark.


9.5 Linear Feet (30 boxes )

Language of Materials



John J. O'Connor was born in Newark, NJ in 1855, attended Seton Hall College and the North American College in Rome. He was a priest of the Diocese of Newark, a professor at Seton Hall College, the Vicar General of the Diocese under Bishop Winand Wigger, and became Bishop of the Diocese of Newark upon the death of Bishop Wigger, in 1901. He served as bishop until his death in 1927. The John J. O'Connor papers include the personal and professional papers of Bishop O'Connor, primarily from his time as the Bishop of the Diocese of Newark; these materials include episcopal and legal documents, correspondence, visitation ledgers, and other materials. The collection also includes some professional papers of Bishop O'Connor's Vicar General, Rev. John Sheppard, and his Chancellor, Rev. Thomas Wallace.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Center from the Archdiocese of Newark in 1986 and 2007. Accession numbers include 1986.004.ADN, 2007.01.19.RTW, and 2007.05.21.JJO.

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.

Winand Wigger papers, 1864-1919, ADN 0002.003, in the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center.

Processing Information

Collection was processed by Maura Kenny in 2009, finding aid created by Maura Kenny and Elizabeth O'Donnell in 2009, and HTML finding aid with minor edits to collection-level description created by Tracy M. Jackson, 2012.

John J. O'Connor papers, 1873-1928 (bulk 1900-1927)
Maura Kenny
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

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