The Catholic University of America

William Frederick Montavon

An inventory of The William Frederick Montavon Papers at The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives


Contact Information:

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

Telephone: 202-319-5065

Email: lib-archives@cua.edu

URL: http://archives.lib.cua.edu/

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Descriptive Summary

Repository: The Catholic University of America, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives
Creator: William Frederick Montavon, 1874-1959
Title: The William Frederick Montavon Papers
Dates: 1914-1954
Extent: 5 linear feet; 4 boxes
Abstract: The Montavon papers span 1914-1954, with the majority falling between 1924 and 1952, his time as director of the Legal Department. However, the papers are not exclusive to his work at the department and constitute a mixture of both business and personal papers.
Collection Number: ACUA 027
Language: English

Biographical Note

William F. Montavon was born July 14, 1874 in Scioto County, Ohio, to John Baptist and Mary (Muller) Montavon. He attended Holy Redeemer parochial school from 1880-1887 and then moved on to St. Edward's College in Berlin, Ontario, until 1888. Montavon received his A.B. from Notre Dame University in 1893. He spent two years teaching in Watertown, Wisconsin, before going to Paris, France, to attend L'Institute de Sainte Croix from 1895-1897. Upon returning to the United States, he enrolled at The Catholic University of America as a member of the College of the Holy Cross to do graduate work in Social Science. However in April, 1901, Montavon left the Congregation of the Holy Cross and CU without obtaining a degree.

He married Mary Agnes Burrow in December of 1901 (d. 1940; m. Leocadia Kerby, 1942) and the following year became superintendent of schools in the Philippine Islands. Holding this position until 1915, he then took an appointment as U.S. Commercial attaché to Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. Montavon stayed in South America after leaving this position in 1918, seizing the opportunity to be the executive representative for the International Petroleum Company in Peru. Deciding to leave in 1925, he obtained the directorship of the Legal Department (now Office of the General Counsel) of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC), predecessor of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). His earlier career and knowledge of Spanish and French were especially important in preparing him for this post, as he focused the efforts of the department on the problems in the Americas, especially the turmoil in Mexico, and tried to raise awareness of the situation in Spain.

While in this post he obtained numerous accolades and appointments that were complementary to the department. In 1930, President Hoover appointed him to the Forbes Commission to Haiti. His job was to be a press correspondent to the Catholic Papers in the U.S., but he was also influential in aiding the efforts to improve conditions on the island.

Soon after, he and his good friend John J. Burke, who was the general secretary directing the Executive Department of NCWC, traveled with Archbishop Ruiz to Mexico to help alleviate the tension between the state and the Catholic Church. This trip was instrumental in the decision of the Mexican government to allow the return of the clergy and legal public worship. Following this appointment, he served the NCWC News Service in 1931 as correspondent to the Constitutional Assembly in Spain. Besides these appointments, he received an honorary doctor of laws from the University of Dayton, Ohio, in 1931, received the Catholic Action Medal in 1939, and was honored by the Holy Father with the title, Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1929.

Throughout his career, Montavon lectured and published on the subjects such as health, education and welfare. Some of his publications include: Haiti, past and present, 1930 and Insurrection in Spain, 1937, as well as additions to Catholic Action, the NCWC's newsletter. In addition, he was a member of many associations and groups, such as the Knights of Columbus, American Academy of Political and Social Science, Catholic Association for International Peace and the American Catholic Historical Association.

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Scope and Contents

The Montavon papers span 1914-1954, with the majority falling between 1924 and 1952, his time as director of the Legal Department. However, the papers are not exclusive to his work at the department and constitute a mixture of both business and personal papers. The correspondence series is the largest part of the collection consisting of over half the collection. The other large series, Publications and Publicity Materials, was created out of several original groupings, now subseries, to show their interrelation. Finally, there are two small series of one folder each, Photographs and Biographical Materials.

Series 1: Correspondence, was kept under its original categories and divided into Subseries 1.1: Letters Received, 1925(1925-1951)1954, and Subseries 1.2 Letters Sent, 1925(1925-1952)1954. These subseries are each arranged chronologically with undated materials appearing at the end of the year in which they were originally placed. When received and sent correspondence were glued together, a copy of one, sent or received, was made and placed in the opposite location from the original. The majority of materials cover areas such as the problems in Mexico and Spain and legal department matters from legislative concerns to legal assistance for Catholics. Another oddity of this series is that some of the Letters Sent are not by Montavon but by his secretary or the assistant director, Eugene Butler.

Series 2: Publications and Publicity Materials, as mentioned above, is an umbrella series that was created out of several series of materials because of their similarity. Throughout all these subseries, published materials are intermingled with those in typescript and in draft format which makes it difficult to determine whether an item was published or not. In addition, it was decided that the original series would be kept to retain the original order but they would be grouped under one large series in order to show that these subseries contain a similar presentation of information that was meant in some way for public dissemination.

Subseries 2.1, Addresses and Lectures, spans 1927(1931-1945)1945 and contains a variety of addresses and lectures. A large portion are by Montavon. The few remaining are by other authors. One of Montavon's writing sets appearing in this subseries is entitled "The Second Spanish Republic and The Catholic Church."

Subseries 2.2, Articles, is comprised of both printed and typewritten materials, and roughly spans 1931-1937, focusing on the problems in Spain. It is only partially chronological, though, with three large groups of distinct materials that have been separated: Boston Evening Transcript, article series on Mexico; Filmor, a publication in Spanish that was originally placed with the articles; and a series entitled "The Truth About Spain." The last folder in this series contains miscellaneous articles arranged by date.

Subseries 2.3, News Releases, is a mixture of printed and typewritten items in both English and Spanish mostly on the situation in Spain covering the years 1924-1951. Some of these are copies of official NC NEWS press releases.

Subseries 2.4, Newspaper Clippings, is a large group of clipped articles from various papers and has been left in its original chronological arrangement from 1926-1938. The condition of this subseries is extremely poor and it was determined to be too difficult to copy due to its volume and varied size.

Subseries 2.5, Reports, is comprised of two groups of materials: Legal Department Reports and Related Materials and NCWC History and Related Materials. The Legal Department file spans 1929-1935 and contains various reports on matters pertaining to the legal department. The NCWC History material dates from 1948 and is a mix of draft histories of various departments in NCWC by the respective department and a merged final version.

Subseries 2.6, Miscellaneous Publications, is the final subseries of the Publications and Publicity Materials series. These publications are arranged chronologically by publication date and form a varied group. Items appear in English and Spanish and cover 1914(1926-1950)1950.

Series 3: Photographs, consists of only one folder with twenty-three images. The majority date from the mid to late 1930's (dating obtained from original folder - not on items) and show the ravages of war in Spain.

Series 4: Biographical Materials, existed as such under the original order of the papers and was left intact. It contains a variety of materials about Montavon and his activities including versions of his Curriculum Vitae.

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Arrangement

The William Frederick Montavon Papers consists of four series:





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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions.

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Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Donated by William F. Montavon, William R. Consedine, and the NCWC Legal Department in 1951 and 1959.

Processing Information

Processing completed in 1998 by Jennifer E. Jukes. EAD markup completed in March 2006 by Cathey Dugan and Jordan Patty. EAD revisions in 2013 by Michael J. Dobbs.

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Related Material

The American Catholic Research Center and University Archives:

Legal Department NCWC/USCC Records

CUA Rector's Office Files, (re: Philippine appointment), [Bx 3; F 21: Early-Evans 1891-1901]

Other Repositories:

Mahony, Thomas F. Collection - Notre Dame University (correspondence)

Congregation of the Holy Cross Province Archives - South Bend, Indiana (correspondence 1895-1897 with Fr. William Corby, superior)

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Index Terms

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


Persons:
Burke, John J. (John Joseph), 1857-1945
Keller, Helen, 1880-1968
Kerby, William J. (William Joseph), 1870-1936
Mahony, Thomas F.
Montavon, William Fredrick, 1874-1959
Ruiz y Flores, Leopoldo, 1865-1941.
Wands, Ernest

Organizations:
American Academy of Political and Social Science
American Catholic Historical Association
Knights of Columbus
National Catholic Welfare Conference
United States Catholic Conference

Places:
Haiti
Mexico
Philippines
South America
Spain

Subjects:
Education
Health
Spain History Civil War, 1936-1939
Welfare


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Select Bibliography

MacDonald, Shane. "From Manila to Madrid - Montavon's Legal Department Goes Global," The Archivist's Nook (CUA Blog), July 27, 2017, http://www.lib.cua.edu/wordpress/newsevents/9360/

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Detailed Description of the Collection

                       
Series 1: Correspondence, 1925-1954 (3 boxes)
Subseries 1.1 contains a mixture of personal and business correspondence received touching on subjects such as Spain, Mexico, Catholicism and Legal Department matters.
Subseries 1.2 contains sent correspondence. This subseries also contains some items written by Montavon's secretaries and the Assistant Director, Eugene Butler.
Subseries 1.1: Letters Received, 1925-1954 (2 boxes)
Box Folder
1 1 Letters Received, 1925-1926
  2 Letters Received, Jan 1927 - July 1927
  3 Letters Received, Aug 1927 - Dec 1927
  4 Letters Received, 1928
  5 Letters Received, 1929
  6 Letters Received, 1930
  7 Letters Received, Jan 1931 - Aug 1931
  8 Letters Received, Sept 1931 - Dec 1931
  9 Letters Received, 1932
  10 Letters Received, 1933
  11 Letters Received, 1934-1935
  12 Letters Received, 1936
  13 Letters Received, Jan 1937 - April 1937
  14 Letters Received, May 1937 - Dec 1937
  15 Letters Received, Jan 1938 - May 1938
  16 Letters Received, June 1938 - Dec 1938
  17 Letters Received, Jan 1939 - Feb 1939
Box Folder
2 1 Letters Received, March 1939 - Aug 1939
  2 Letters Received, Sept 1939 - Dec 1939
  3 Letters Received, Jan 1940 - Dec 1943
  4 Letters Received, Jan 1944 - Dec 1946
  5 Letters Received, Jan 1947 - Dec 1947
  6 Letters Received, 1948-1951; 1954
Subseries 1.2: Letters Sent, 1925-1954 (2 boxes)
Box Folder
2 7 Letters Sent, 1925-1928
  8 Letters Sent, 1929
  9 Letters Sent, 1930
  10 Letters Sent, 1931
  11 Letters Sent, 1932
  12 Letters Sent, 1933
  13 Letters Sent, 1934
  14 Letters Sent, 1935
  15 Letters Sent, Jan 1936 - Aug 1936
  16 Letters Sent, Sept 1936 - Dec 1936
  17 Letters Sent, Jan 1937 - May 1937
  18 Letters Sent, June 1937 - Dec 1937
  19 Letters Sent, Jan 1938 - June 1938
  20 Letters Sent, July 1938 - Dec 1938
Box Folder
3 1 Letters Sent, Jan 1939 - Feb 1939
  2 Letters Sent, March 1939 - July 1939
  3 Letters Sent, Aug 1939 - Dec 1939
  4 Letters Sent, 1940
  5 Letters Sent, 1941-1942
  6 Letters Sent, 1943-1945
  7 Letters Sent, 1946-1947
  8 Letters Sent, 1948-1949
  9 Letters Sent, 1950-1952; 1954
                       
Series 2: Publications and Publicity Materials, 1914-1951 (2 boxes)
Subseries 2.1 contains a variety of Montavon's addresses and lectures and some by others to whom he responded. The subject matter centers mostly around Spain.
Subseries 2.2 contains articles, some written by Montavon, both published and unpublished, including a series by Montavon for the Boston Evening Transcript and one entitled "The Truth About Spain."
Subseries 2.3 contains a variety of news releases, some typewritten on onion skin, others NC NEWS printed ones, mostly covering the situation in Spain. Some releases are in Spanish.
Subseries 2.4 consists of a variety of clipped newspaper articles in both English and Spanish. No apparent arrangement besides rough dating on the original folders.
Subseries 2.5 contains Legal Department reports and materials relating to their compilation as well as a report with supporting materials on the history of NCWC.
Subseries 2.6 contains a variety of printed documents in English and Spanish arranged by publication date.
Subseries 2.1: Addresses and Lectures, 1927-1945 (3 folders)
Box Folder
3 10 Addresses and Lectures, 1927; 1932-1937
  11 Addresses and Lectures, 1938-1945
  12 Addresses and Lectures: "The Second Spanish Republic and The Catholic Church", 1931
Subseries 2.2: Articles, 1931-1937 (4 folders)
Box Folder
3 13 Articles: Boston Evening Transcript Series on Mexico, n.d.
  14 Articles: Filmor, 1935-1936
  15 Articles: "The Truth About Spain", 1931-1932
  16 Articles: General, 1931-1937
Subseries 2.3: News Releases, 1924-1951 (4 folders)
Box Folder
3 17 News Releases, 1924- Feb 1926
  18 News Releases, March 1926 - Dec 1926
  19 News Releases, 1927-1935
  20 News Releases, 1936-1951
Subseries 2.4: Newspaper Clippings, 1926-1948 (3 folders)
Box Folder
3 21 Newspaper Clippings, 1926-1930
Box Folder
4 1 Newspaper Clippings, 1931-1934
  2 Newspaper Clippings, 1935-1938
Subseries 2.5: Reports, 1933-1948 (3 folders)
Box Folder
4 3 Reports: Legal Department Reports and Related Materials, 1929-1935
  4 Reports: NCWC History, 1948
  5 Reports: NCWC History Materials, 1948
Subseries 2.6: Miscellaneous Publications, 1914-1950 (4 folders)
Box Folder
4 6 Miscellaneous Publications, 1914; 1921; 1926-1936
  7 Miscellaneous Publications, 1937-1938
  8 Miscellaneous Publications, 1941-1945
  9 Miscellaneous Publications, 1946-1950
                       
Series 3: Photographs, 1928; 1930; 1936-1939 (1 folder)
A mixture of twenty-three images, most of which are of the war in Spain.
Box Folder
4 10 General Photographs, 1928; 1930; 1936-1939
        dates 1936-1939 obtained from original folder - do not appear on items
                       
Series 4: Biographical Materials, 1922-1942 (1 folder)
Variety of materials about Montavon, including versions of his curriculum vitae.
Box Folder
4 11 Miscellaneous Biographical Sketches and Correspondence, n.d.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Administrative Information

Related Material

Index Terms

Select Bibliography

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1925-1954

Series 2: Publications and Publicity Materials, 1914-1951

Series 3: Photographs, 1928; 1930; 1936-1939

Series 4: Biographical Materials, 1922-1942

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