The Catholic University of America

Charles Francis Aiken

An inventory of Charles Francis Aiken Papers at The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives


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Mailing Address: The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 20064

Telephone: 202-319-5065

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Descriptive Summary

Repository: The American Catholic Research Center and University Archives
Creator: Charles Francis Aiken, April 8, 1863 - July 8, 1925
Title: Charles Francis Aiken Papers
Dates: 1886-1924
Extent: 3 linear feet; 7 boxes
Abstract: Dr. Charles Francis Aitken was a career CUA professor in the Theology Department who maintained a 35 year connection to the university up until his death in 1925. A member of the clergy, he was among the first generation of students at CUA and went on to serve as Dean of the Faculty of Theology for 4 years. Aiken is a published author and expert on apologetics. The papers document his transition from the pulpit to the classroom and are composed of sermons, extensive lecture notes, period news clippings, and two personal diaries.
Collection Number: 046
Language: English

Biographical Note

A Massachusetts native, Dr. Charles Francis Aiken was born in Boston on April 8, 1863. He attended grammar and high school in Somerville and higher education brought him to Harvard where he studied classics. Graduating in 1884, Aiken then began his lifelong teaching career at the Heathcote School of Buffalo, NY before leaving to become a priest. In 1886 he returned to Boston to enter St. John's Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1890. From there, Aiken would go on to attend Catholic University, where he distinguished himself as a theology student, and earned his degree in 1892. After graduation, Aiken returned to the Archdiocese of Boston ostensibly to resume the duties of a local priest. A number of his early sermons are contained in the collection. He might have remained there but an 1894 shake-up in the CUA Apologetics Department resulted with him being recalled to Washington to serve on the faculty under Rev. Thomas Bouquillon. Tapped for his youth, Aiken was required to study in Europe for the better part of two years to prepare for his new position. This helps explain one of the gaps in the continuity of the collection.

Initially serving as a theology instructor at CUA from 1897-1900, Aiken soon came to the attention of the University of Pennsylvania Philosophy Department under William Romaine Newbold. Asked to teach medieval philosophy as a guest professor, it was during this era that Aiken began to cement his academic reputation. Likewise, this is where the collection reveals Aiken's keen mind for religious history and anthropology which seemingly paved the way for numerous published works on comparative religion. His most recognized work, "The Dhamma of Gotama the Buddha and the Gospel of Jesus the Christ" was published in 1900 and earned him a doctorate in Theology.

Aiken would then serve as an associate professor from 1900-1906, and ordinary professor of apologetics from 1906-1924. He eventually rose to Dean of the Faculty of Theology (1909-1913) and remained a contributor to many scholarly journals including American Ecclesiastical Review, American Catholic Quarterly Review, and Catholic World. He died in Boston on July 8, 1925 at 62 years of age.

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Scope and Contents

The Charles Francis Aiken Papers is a two series collection mostly composed of lecture notes spanning the late theology professor's 35 years at Catholic University. Series 1 focuses on his academic lectures and is perhaps of greater interest to scholars of theology, anthropology and religious history. Many of the notes in this series are handwritten, titled, and include bibliographic references. The lectures and marginalia from his stint at the University of Pennsylvania may be found in box 5. These suggest Aitken may have been a valuable intellectual contributor to that institution's Philosophy Department from 1897-1900 while he prepared his own master work comparing Jesus and Buddha.

As mentioned, Aiken was a published author and expert on apologetics. Though his published works are conspicuously absent from the collection, the scope of his lecture notes indicate a vast knowledge of world religions, the humanities, and the social sciences. (See boxes 2, 4 and 5.) Some evidence of this is revealed through assorted news-clippings pertaining to various anthropological and archeological discoveries from the early 20th century. In toto, the collection helps build the case that this robust era of emerging scientific theory and physical exploration had a profound impact on Aiken's thinking. In box 2 one may find extensive lecture notes titled "Early Man" and "The Origin of Species" blended with "Primitive Revelation." This suggests that Aitken was quite well versed in all manner of published work relating to the essence of humanity. Further, it is worth considering that much of Aiken's career coincided with the publication of sprawling ethnographic works such as Sir James George Frazer's "The Golden Bough." That work is particularly notable for it revealed a great deal of research on tribal and folkloric practices among polytheists, but drew controversy at the time due to Frazer's observations on Christianity.

Regardless "The Golden Bough" proved useful to Aiken through his notes in box 5 which reveal an articulate study of the origins of religion through lectures on Priests and Shamans and Sympathetic Magic. With the increasing popularity of anthropology and folkloric studies in more recent times, it is interesting to note the extent to which he researched non-Judeo-Christian belief systems. For example, cultural anthropologist E.B. Tylor is also frequently cited in the notes. That said, Aiken also felt compelled to assemble a comprehensive lecture on Mormonism, which is another rich resource in the collection. Looking back some 100 years, it is therefore tempting to view Charles Francis Aiken's broad curiosity about the world as a voice for human understanding at a time when the progress-minded colonial powers would soon find themselves descending into World War I.

Series 2 provides a more personal look at Aiken thanks to the inclusion of two personal diaries. Box 6 includes one box of sermons, possibly delivered in Boston, along with a personal diary from his seminary days. Finally, box 7 contains a travel diary from a cross-country journey in the spring of 1905 along with some papers from a Philadelphia area high-school.

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Arrangement

The Charles Francis Aiken Papers consists of two series:



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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

None

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Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Donor name and date unknown.

Processing Information

Processing completed in 2012 by Carter Rawson. EAD markup completed in 2012 by Carter Rawson.

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Related Material

Thomas J. Bouquillon Papers

Bishop John J. Keane Papers

Charles Hallan McCarthy Papers

Edward Aloysius Pace Papers

Richard Joseph Purcell Papers

Thomas J. Shahan Papers

Leo Francis Stock Papers

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.


Persons:
Aiken, Charles Francis, 1863-1925
Bouquillon, Thomas Joseph, 1842-1902
Newbold, William Romaine, 1865-1926

Organizations:
Archdiocese of Boston
Catholic University
St. John's Theological Seminary
University of Pennsylvania

Places:
Boston, MA
Philadelphia, PA
Washington D.C.

Subjects:
Anthropology of religion
Apologetics
Apologetics--United States--History--20th century
Polytheism
Theology


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Bibliography

Ahern, Patrick H.; The Catholic University of America 1887-1896 (The Rectorship of John J. Keane); CUA Press; Washington D.C., 1949 p.56

Aiken, Charles Francis; The Dhamma of Gotama the Buddha and the Gospel of Jesus the Christ - a Critical Inquiry into the Alleged Relations of Buddhism with Primitive Christianity; Boston, Marlier and company, limited, 1900.

Catholic University of America Annual Reports of the Rector 1-7 1890-1896

Catholic University Bulletin Volume XXXI, No. 8, p.96 (necrology)

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Detailed Description of the Collection

                       
Series 1: Lecture Notes, 1897-1924 (5 Boxes)
Five boxes of classroom lecture notes (mostly handwritten) from Catholic University of America (CUA) and University of Pennsylvania. Box 1 contains eight folders of titled lecture notes and news clippings. Box 2: six folders of titled lecture notes and news clippings. Box 3: seven folders of titled lectures and assorted notes. Box 4: five folders of titled lecture notes. Box 5: nine folders of lecture notes ca. 1898-1909.
Box Folder
1 1 Lectures - Theology, n.d.
        Creation and Formation of the Visible World - 30 pages.
        The Unity of the Human Species - 15 pages (approx.)
        Original Sin - 25 pages (approx.)
        The Future Life (Judgement, Resurrection, Purgatory, Incarnation, Messianic Prophesy, Redemption, Mother of God) - approximately 125 pages.
         
  2 Lecture, ca. 1921
        On Christian Myth, 42 pages
  3 Lecture, ca. 1915
        The Church of Christ, 107 pages
  4 Lecture, ca. 1925
        Church Liturgy, 25 pages
  5 Lecture, ca. 1923
        Christian Revelation; New Testament documents, 230 pages
  6 Lecture, n.d.
        The Grandeur of the Priesthood, 57 pages
  7 Lecture, ca. 1918
        Theistic Religion; Divinity, 120 pages
  8 Lecture and assorted notes, ca. 1921, n.d.
        Mormonism and misc. notes, 290 pages
Box Folder
2 1 Lecture, n.d.
        The Unity of Mankind, 58 pages
  2 Lecture, ca. 1922
        The Origin of Species, 92 pages
  3 Lecture, ca. 1919
        Historical Geology, 85 pages
  4 Lecture, ca. 1915
        Early Man, 94 pages with news clippings
  5 Lecture, ca. 1907-1912
        Primitive Revelation, 138 pages
  6 Lecture, ca. 1918
        Prehistoric Man, Geology and Archaeology; Paleolithic Period, 340 pages
Box Folder
3 1 Lecture, ca. 1909
        Christian Doctrine, re: grounds of theistic and Christian belief. 140 pages
  2 Lecture, ca. 1912
        Christian Doctrine,re: Grace and sacrament in general; Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, 185 pages
  3 Lecture, n.d.
        Extreme Unction, 143 pages
  4 Lecture, ca. 1920
        Church of Christ, 333 pages
  5 Lecture, n.d.
        Art and Religion, 32 pages
  6 Lecture, ca. 1911-1912
        Virtues, 140 pages
  7 Miscellaneous notes, n.d.
        Vestments, 15 pages
Box Folder
4 1 Lecture, 1924
        Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science, 51 pages
  2 Lecture, n.d.
        Mosaic Revelation, 320 pages
  3 Lecture, ca. 1898
        Apologetics
  4 Lecture, ca. 1900
        Definition of Religion, Universality of Religion, Origin of Religion, Belief in Life After Death, 86 pages
  5 Lecture, ca. 1900
        Evolution, Belief in Life After Death, Origin of Religion, 107 pages
Box Folder
5 1 Article and Lecture notes, ca. 1899
        Article: Origin of Religion, 20 pages ( CUA Bulletin, April 1899)
        Evolution, 15 pages
        assorted notes, 25 pages
  2 Lecture, ca. 1900
        Taboo
        Sacrifice
        Priests and Shamans
        Witchcraft and Sympathetic Magic,
        117 pages(total)
  3 Lecture, ca. 1900
        Musical Instruments in Religion, 30 pages
        Religious Festivals, 23 pages
        Mythology and Religion, 15 pages
        Lustration and Purification, 10 pages
         
  4 Lecture, 1897-1899
        Medieval Renaissance of Philosophy
  5 Lecture notes, University of Pennsylvania ca. 1900
        Assorted lecture notes
  6 Lecture, ca. 1900-1901
        A Course in Applied Logic, 61 pages
  7 Lecture, ca. 1897
        The Universals
  8 Lecture-University of Pennsylvania 1898-1899
        Assorted Philosophy and Theology, 50 pages
  9 Lecture-University of Pennsylvania ca. 1898-1899
        Assorted Philosophy, 88 pages
                       
Series 2, 1886-1899, 1905-1920, 1923 (2 Boxes)
The first box contains eight folders of sermons and lecture notes and one folder with personal seminary diary. The second box contains five folders of assorted and untitled lecture notes, student papers (mostly high school) and a personal travel diary
Box Folder
6 1 Miscellaneous Notes, ca. 1915
        Statistical reference notes on seminaries and universities
  2 Lecture, n.d.
        The Brethren of Our Lord, 37 pages
        Discussion on Confession, 28 pages
        Pece Philosophicum, 24 pages
        Philosophy notes, 11 pages
  3 Lectures and Sermons, ca. 1891-1913
        Encyclical on Condition of Labor, 8 pages
        Existence of God, 17 pages
  4 Miscellaneous notes, ca. 1891-1899
        Assorted untitled notes
  5 Lecture notes and Sermons, ca.1893, 1897
        Conversion of Prince Talleyrand, 30 pages
        Infallible Church Authority, 18 pages
        Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 13 pages
  6 Sermons, ca. 1889-1893
        Assorted sermons delivered in Boston
  7 Sermons, ca. 1889-1893
        Assorted sermons delivered in Boston
  8 Sermons, ca. 1889-1893
        Assorted sermons delivered in Boston
  9 Diary, ca. 1886-1888
        St John's Theological Seminary, Brighton, MA
Box Folder
7 1 Diary and Miscellaneous, 1905-1920
        Contains 1905 travel diary from trip across the U.S. Also newspaper clippings and assorted papers.
  2 Lecture, ca.1920
        Untitled lecture notes and student papers
  3 Lecture n.d.
        Untitled lecture notes
  4 Notes, 1919
        Miscellaneous notes and student papers; Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania.
Box Folder
5 1 Notes, 1919
        Student papers; Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania. Roxbury, Massachusetts.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Administrative Information

Related Material

Index Terms

Bibliography

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Lecture Notes, 1897-1924

Series 2, 1886-1899, 1905-1920, 1923

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