Elizabeth Ann Seton was thoroughly Vincentian, at first within the wide scope of St. Vincent’s charity for all men, and later within the precise definition of his role and spirit.
Her education in charity began with her father. Dr. Richard Bayley (1744-1801) was a complete humanitarian. Medicine was the lave of his life, and the wives and children of both his marriages suffered for it, but the sick and poor did not. Born in Fairfield, Connecticut, U.S.A., he was a pioneer in the detection of croup, diptheria and yellow fever, three killers of the time, and a fine surgeon, having studied under Dr. William Hunter in England. In 1790 he helped organize the New York Dispensary to care for the city’s poor. In 1792 he became the first professor of anatomy in King’s College, now Columbia University. In 1795 he became the first Health Officer of the Port of New York with headquarters on Bedloes Island until he built a new quarantine station on Staten Island in 1799. Dr. Bayley’s utter devotion to the sick is attested to by his daughter Elizabeth, writing during the fearful yellow fever epidemic in 1798: «I have not seen my father for a whole week until last evening; and then he told me that he spent every hour in the hospitals and the lazaretto. And again: «My father resides entirely at Bellevue Hospital».
Dr. Bayley unwittingly attested to his own love of the sick and the poor by his death of the plague contracted when caring for poor Irish immigrants and his deathbed delirium, which his daughter Elizabeth recorded: « He looked earnestly in my face the third day: ‘The hand of heaven is in it—all will not do,’ and often wished it was later in the day. (He) complained it was hard work and repeatedly called, ‘My Christ Jesus, have merey on me. Once in the night he said: ‘Cover me warm; I have covered many. Poor little children, I would cover you more, but it can’t always be as we would wish».
Elizabeth had another family exemplar of charity to look back to when she was old enough to understand. This was her maternal grandfather, the Rev. Richard Charlton, who died as rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Staten Island, when Elizabeth was three years old. He had been a missionary in the West Indies as a young man, and later was attached to Trinity Church in New York as catechist to all the Negroes of the city, most of whom were slaves. Nevertheless, he instructed both his black and white converts side by side in the same class. It may well have been the family tales told of him that fanned Elizabeth’s early bent toward piety.
At any rate, it is noteworthy, in view of Elizabeth’s career as a Catholic educator, that the very first act of Christian charity recorded of her was that, at the age of six, she carried her baby half sister up to the highest window of the house, and pointing to the evening sky, told her that « God lived up in heaven, and good children would go up there »; whereupon she began « teaching » the infant « her prayers». It is satisfying to recall, without undue stress, in this simple act of a little Protestant girl who was to become a great Sister of Charity the early preoccupation of St. Louise de Marillac and Marguerite Naseau with religious education as a tool of salvation. It was not an isolated incident: in caring for her younger half brothers and half sisters Elizabeth was in the habit of soothing them with hymns as she rocked their cradles. And a warm friendship with a cousin, Ann Bayley, was basically religious because it was formed out of Elizabeth’s teaching the younger girl about God and encouraging her to a mutual sharing of pious thoughts.
Another factor in her charitable training was her «delight in being with old people » where she took « pleasure in learning anything pious». The sight of old people being venerated and loved and cared for was a lesson in itself.
The Bible early became indeed The Book for her, and all her life was the source from which she instructed her children and friends and later her Sisters.
Elizabeth found still another teacher of charity in William Seton, whose son William Magee Seton she married on January 24, 1794. The elder Seton was a kindly and generous father to the twelve children of his two marriages, almost to the point of indulgence. Let all come to my strong box white I am alive,» he would say, «and when I am gone you will take care of each other». When he died on June 9, 1798, a local pa- per editorialized: «The destitute orphan is deprived of its kindest patron, the helpless widow and the unfortunate of their best friend…» He well knew bus children, or at least his eldest, William, who with his young wife of 23 moved fin to the larger family borne with their own two babies and another on the way to look after the six younger Setons. As Elizabeth admitted to her friend Julia Scott, «for me, who so dearly loves quiet and a small family, to become at once the mother of six children… is a very great change». It was nonetheless a change made willingly, and it lasted for two years until the older ones were ready to share the burden.
The burden on the young William Setons was aggravated from time to time by the misfortunes of Will’s sister Eliza Maitland who was married to a ne’er-do-well and had a large family to raise all by herself. During the yellow fever epidemics of 1798 and 1799 Elizabeth urged her poor sister-in-law to bring her children, several of whom were i11, to the family country home on the outskirts of New York. «You may imagine», she wrote her friend Mrs. Scott, and «that eighteen in (the) family, in a house containing only five small rooms, is more than enough
But it is significant that at the very same time she was writing in her spiritual notebook: « Almighty giver of all mercies, Father of AH, Who knows my heart and pities its weakness and errors, Thou know the desire of my soul is to do Thy». In February 1802 Mrs. Maitland’s drifter of a husband went to jail, and Elizabeth and her husband who were hard up themselves now because of the failure of bis business fed the abandoned family, « six in number… from our own storeroom and everyday marketing, as no other part of the family will keep them from starving, or even in firewood».
In the fall of 1797 she began her public works of charity by helping to found with a group of pious Protestant ladies the Wídows’ Society of New York for the relief of the widow and the orphan. It was a society amazingly like St. Vincent’s Ladies of Charity, for these good women not only contributed their own alms and begged alms of others, but visited the poor in their hovels to take them food and clothing which they had made with their own hands. Elizabeth once described one of her days for Mrs. Scott: «II rice up early and late take rest, you may be sure. Never before after twelve, and oftener one…
I have cut out my two suits today and partly made one. Heard all the lessons, too, and had a two hours’ visit from my widow Veley—no work, no wood, child sick, etc.—and should I complain, with a bright fire within, bright, bright moon over my shoulder, and the darlings all well, hallooing and dancing?—I have played for them this half hour».
Elizabeth was the treasurer of the Society until her departure for Italy in 1803, and was one of the officers who signed a petition to the New York State Legislature to be allowed to raise $ 15,000 for their work by means of a lottery. She would have been amused, had she known that St. Vincent had also raised funds for the foundlings by means of a lottery in 1655!
When Rev. John Henry Hobart, who later in life was the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, became a curate at Trinity Church and Elizabeth’s first regular spiritual guide, she along with her sister-in-law Rebecca Seton adopted his personal charities as their own and were such a familiar sight in the streets of the parish as they carried baskets to the poor that their neighbors called them, prophetically, Protestant Sisters of Charity. One of Elizabeth’s favorite charities was to assist at the beds of the dying, where beyond doubt she learned the great lesson of the importance of eternity which became a holy obsession with her from the chilling deaths of good but worldly friends and relatives who were ill-prepared. As she once wrote to Mrs. Scott: «Oh, Julia, Julia, Julia! The last, last, last sad silence. The soul departing without hope. Its views, its interests centered in a world it is hurried from. No Father’s sheltering arms, no heavenly Home of Joy. My Julia, Julia, Julia! Eternity—a word of transport, or of agony».
The good lessons Elizabeth’s father had taught her reached a climax when, visiting him at bis quarantine station, she witnessed the horrors of the plague-stricken poor whom she longed to help but was forbidden by her father because of the children although in a matter of weeks he himself was to lay clown his life. She wrote in an agony to Rebecca Seton: «Rebecca, I cannot sleep. The dying and the dead possess my mind. Babies perishing at the empty breast of the expiring mother. And this is not fancy, but the scene that surrounds me. Father says such was never known before, that there are actually twelve children that must die for mere want of sustenance, unable to take more than the breast and, from the wretchedness of their parents, deprived of it, as they have lain ill for many days in the ship without food, air or changing. Merciful Father! Oh, how readily would I give them each a turn of Kit’s (her own baby’s) treasure if in my choice! But, Rebecca, they have a Provider in heaven Who will smooth the pangs of the suffering innocent.
«Father goes up early in the morning to procure all possible comforts for the sufferers… My side window is open, and wherever I look there are lights. Tents are pitched over the yard of the convalescent house, and a larger one… joined to the dead house».
The truly noble Filicchis of Livorno, Italy, were Elizabeth’s first introduction to the true charity of Catholicism passed down through the centuries from Christ by His Mystical Body the Church. She had felt it first during the dark weeks of the lazaretto where Will had been confined by bureaucratic ignorant, his life ebbing away almost at the doorway of his hospitable Italian friends, then in the grievous hours of his death on December 27, 1803 in Pisa and burial in Livorno the following day, and finally at the door of the Filicchi palazzo flung wide. Even little Anna, who promptly received the softer Italian name of Annina, felt it: « Oh, Mamma, how many friends God has provided for us in this strange land! For they are our friends before they know us».
With Italian directness they at once offered Elizabeth their supreme charity, the true faith. Scarcely a week after Will’s death she was writing to Rebecca Seton with a brave lightness:
«I am hare pushed by these charitable Romans, who wish that so much goodness should be improved by conversion…». A few days later Antonio Filicchí was even bolder: «Your dear William was the early friend of my youth. You are now come in his room. Your soul is even dearer to Antonio, and will be so forever. May the good Almighty God enlighten your mind and strengthen your heart to see and follow in religion the surest, true way to the eternal blessings. I shall call for you, I must meet you, in Paradise, if it is decreed that the vast plains of the ocean shall soon be betwixt us. Don’t discontinue, meanwhile, to pray, to knock at the door». Suffice it to say that, when Elizabeth set sail for America on April 8, 1804, she was convinced in her mind but the gift of faith and her submission to it was only achieved after months of spiritual agony on March 14, 1805.
When Elizabeth fled from the cold ostracism of the bigoted New York of that day to the friendly warmth of Baltimore, in 1808, it was not merely to found a Catholic school for girls but a religious Sisterhood as well. Father Francis Matignon, the first priest in Boston, Massachusetts, had hinted at it when the change was being considered: « Your perseverance and the help of grace will finish in you the work which God has commended, and will render you, I trust, the means of effecting the conversion of many others». Elizabeth herself announced its imminence when she wrote on October 6, 1808: «It is expected I shall be the mother of many daughters».
Her concept of the religious community envisioned was a formalization of what she had already done in New York, both as a Protestant and a Catholic: to teach children, especially moral and religious truths, to help the poor and the destitute, to nurse the sick and to comfort the dying. These ideals, without her knowing it, were Vincentian. Indeed, unwittingly, she wanted to be a Sister of Charity. When she was permitted by Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore to take temporary vows on March 25, 1809, she exclaimed in a letter to her friend Julia Scott over « the joy of my soul at the prospect of being able to assist the poor, visit the sick, comfort the sorrowful, clothe little innocents and teach them to love God!». By that time she had undoubtedly discovered that her ideas coincided exactly with those of the Sulpician priests who, at the invitation of and with the concurrente of Archbishop Carroll, were her sponsors in Baltimore. To these Sulpicians who were French born, Sisters of Charity meant only one thing, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Elizabeth was an answer to prayer for Father William Valentine Dubourg, S.S., later Bishop of New Orleans, Bishop of Montauban and Archbishop of Besancon. As he wrote many years later: «In her frequent conferences with her Director, Mrs. Seton learned that he had thought for a long time of establishing the Daughters of Charity in America; and as the duties of this institute would be compatible with the tares of her family, this virtuous lady expressed a most ardent desire of seeing it commenced and of being herself admitted into it».
This Vincentian thrust was also in the mind of Samuel Sutherland Cooper, a wealthy convert from Philadelphia who, at 39, was a student for the priesthood and the proponed Sisterhood’s chief benefactor. As Elizabeth wrote to Filippo Filicchi in Livorno: « He (Mr. Cooper) has consulted our Reverend Mr. Dubourg, the president of the college, on a plan of establishing an institution for the advancement of Catholic female children in habits of religion, and giving them an education suited to that purpose. He also desires extremely to extend the plan to the reception of the aged, and also uneducated persons, who may be employed in spinning, knitting, etc., so as to found a manufactory on a small scale which may be beneficial to the poor».
The plan did not mature immediately. In the summer of 1817 Elizabeth told Antonio Filicchi in a letter of introduction she had written for Samuel Cooper that Cooper’s « meaning and my hopes » were that the Emmitsburg institution « was to have been a nursery only for Our Savior’s poor country children; but it seems it is to be the forming of city girls to faith and piety as wives and mothers. » 23 The change was forced by the need for ongoing financial support and the eagerness of wealthier Catholics to send their daughters to Mother Seton’s school. It was only temporary, and Elizabeth admitted that her institution enjoyed that «blessing and success which is the work of God alone». Even then, poor country children from St. Joseph’s Parish in Emmitsburg were day students at the school, their attendance making it the first parochial school in the United States, the Sisters had « the entire charge of the religious instruction of all the country round, » and were visiting the sick in the little villages, and had established two orphanages, one in Philadelphia in 1814 and one in New York in 1817.
Through an accumulation of circumstances and events, which St. Vincent always regarded as indications of God’s Will, Mother Seton’s religious community was not to be at the beginning an American arm of the Daughters of Charity, nor was their rule to be adopted wholly without change. It is an interesting and complicated tale.
As has been said already, Elizabeth’s Sulpician directors seemingly intended her community to become part of the Daughters of Charity, at least at some future date when it had been formed into a coherent body, and there is no evidente that she had the least objection. With the appointment of Father John Baptist David, S.S. (later coadjutor Bishop of Bardstown, Kentucky) as the Sisters’ director, however, the question became immediate. Father David was a peremptory and autocratic man, with whom Elizabeth was to be at constant odds during his two-year tenure, and he decided that the union with France should take place at once. To this end, when his friend and confrere Bishop-elect Benedict Joseph Flaget of Bardstown left for France in 1810 he was asked to bring a copy of the Daughters rule and constitutions back with him, and to arrange for French Daughters of Charity to come to America for the purpose of training the Emmitsburg Sisters in St. Vincent’s spirit.
Again, there is no recorded objection on Elizabeth’s part to this development. Indeed the spirit of the Vincentian rule had been adopted from the beginning. In a letter to her friend Eliza Sadler, a frequent European visitor, written on January 9, 1810, Elizabeth explained: «If you recollect the system of the Sisters of Charity before and since the Revolution in France, you will know the rule of our community in a word…». Add to this the fact that Elizabeth had already translated from the French for the Sisters’ edification and direction lives of St. Vincent and of St. Louise de Marillac.
On September 5, 1811 Elizabeth wrote Archbishop Carroll: «The rules proposed are nearly such as we had in the original manuscript of the Sisters in France. I never had a thought discordant with them, as far as my poor power may go in fulfilling them».
The Archbishop himself seems to have been keeping very much in the background, even though he was the Sisters ecclesiastical superior. This was probably due to a prudent caution not to dampen the Sulpicians plans. He was utterly dependent on these good priests for the training of his priests, and he had gone through an anxious time some years previous when their superior general had been of a mind to recall them for other works. Carroll nevertheless had his own ideas in the matter, as we shall see; but he had a way of achieving his ends by means of prudent waiting and of saying little or nothing, knowing quite well that his final approbation was necessary.
Not only did Bishop Flaget bring back the Vincentian rule and constitutions but also the news that Paris was favorable to the union of the American Sisters with the Daughters. This is evident from an extant letter, which Flaget probably carried with him, written to the Sisters by three Daughters of Charity designated for America: Sisters Marie Bizeray, Augustine Chauvin and Woirin (no first name in her signature): My dear Sisters: As it is not yet in my power to leave France, I write for the purpose of proving to you that you are the object of my thoughts. I hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in a few months, as the good God Who calls you to our holy state, and has inspired me as well as several of my companions with the desire of being useful to you, will not fail to prepare the way for our departure. That all-powerful God Who made choice of poor fishermen, weak and ignorant men, to become the foundations of His Church, is pleased also in our days to employ the most feeble instruments, for the greater glory of His Name, to found an establishment that will be agreeable to Him, since it has for its object the service of His suffering members. Oh how beautiful is that calling which enables us to walk in the footsteps of Our divine Savior, to practice the virtues which He practiced, and to offer ourselves as a sacrifice to Him as He offered Himself for us! What gratitude, what love, do we not owe to that tender Father for having chosen us for so sublime a vocation!
Let us thank Him, dear Sisters, and pray Him for each other, that He will grant us the grace of corresponding faithfully to this inestimable privilege. Let us have recourse to the Blessed Virgin, to St. Vincent de Paul, our father, to Mademoiselle LeGras, our blessed mother, that they may obtain this happiness for their cherished daughters. There can be no doubt of our being dear to them, since we love them and desire to be subject to them.
As Monseigneur Flaget will have made known to you the dispositions which his zeal and holy interest for you have awakened among us, I will conclude, dear Sisters, soon to be companions, by assuring you of the sincere and entire devotedness and respect of Your very humble sister, Marie Bizerayfor them, which the whole world could not supply to my judgment of a mother’s duty». This question of her children was still agitating her on May 13 of the same year when she wrote to Archbishop Carroll: «How can they (the French Sisters who might come) allow me the uncontrolled privileges of a mother to my five darlings?». And in the same letter she raised the questions of governance and the basic thrust of the work: « What authority would the Mother they bring have over our Sisters (while I am present) but the very rule she is to give them? And how could it be known that they would consent to the different modifications of their rule which are indispensible
There had been at least a year’s study and discussion before a final decision was made as to union with the Parisian motherhouse or autonomy. The questions upon which the decision hinged were: 1) the basic thrust of the work: for the French community it was the poor and the sick, for the American community it was education; 2) the governance of the American community; 3) the status of Mother Seton; and 4) the fate of her children. These questions were frankly explored, even before Flaget returned from France.
On February 11, 1811 Elizabeth assured her friend Mrs. Dupleix: « By the law of the Church I so much love, I could never take an obligation which interfered with my duties to them. (her children), except I had an independent provision and guardian if adopted by us? What support can we procure to this house but from our Boarders, and how can the reception of Boarders sufficient to maintain it accord with their statutes?».
Elizabeth’s perplexity was undoubtedly strengthened by the declaration against the union with France expressed as early as January 4, 1811 by Bishop John Cheverus of Boston, one of her most trusted advisers, the one who had in fact cast the balance for her into the Church. «I concur in opinion with Mr. Dubois about the propriety of your establishment remaining independent from the Sisters of Charity and continuing to be merely a house of education for young females» he had written. 31 Dubois changed his own mind, for personal reasons, over the years. On April 18, 1816, long after things had been settled for the foreseeable future he wrote: «I desire more than anything in this world to be free of the care of the Sisters, but I see no other hope than that of uniting them to some other society to take care of them. If the Reverend Superior approves,
I will try to enter into correspondence on this subject with the Superior of the Fathers of the Mission, formerly Lazarists, to see if it were not possible to form a union between the Sisters here and those in France».
Archbishop Carroll tentatively approved the final draft of the Rule on September 11, 1811. It was identical with the French Rule with the following accommodations: 1) Elizabeth retained dominion over her children and their worldly goods; 2) she was declared eligible to reelection to office even beyond the two terms permitted by the constitutions; 3) education was named as an end of the community and the admission of boarders was allowed.
Formal ratification and promulgation of the Rule was made on January 17, 1812.
The French Sisters never arrived, although Sister Bizeray had hoped to meet Elizabeth « a few months » after Flaget’s return. The only explanation available is found in Mother Rose’s Journal, notes kept by Mother Rose White, Elizabeth’s successor as superior: « Bishop Flaget had the promise of Sisters to accompany him to America, and the money was provided to pay their passage, and it was then he secured for us the rules, constitutions, etc.; but the Government under Bonaparte interfered and the Sisters were not at liberty to leave France».
Archbishop Carroll seems to have been just as well satisfied. In his letter to Mother Seton tentatively approving the Rule he had taken pains to safeguard « the essential superintendence and control of Archbishop over every community in his Diocese». And in a private memorandum written the year before his death, he stated: « At the very institution of Emmitsburg, though it was strongly contended for its being entirely conformable to and the same with the Institute of St. Vincent de Paul, yet this proposal was soon and wisely abandoned for causes which arose out of distance, different manners and habits of the two countries, France and the United States».
Despite their canonical independence from Paris, however, the American Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, considered themselves from the first to be part of the spiritual family of St. Vincent and St. Louise. On the occasion of the formal ratification of the Rule Elizabeth wrote in her Journal: «Eternity! Mother! What a celestial commission entrusted! Mother of the Daughters of Charity, by whom so much is to do also for God through their short life!». Furthermore, the Council Minutes of the community, throughout Mother Seton’s lifetime and in the period immediately following her death, repeatedly refer to the Daughters of Charity as «our European Sisters» and invoke precedents, sought from them by letter, in applying the Rule. In one instance the Minutes expressly state the wish of the community «to conform to the original rule of St. Vincent as far as we know it».
Mother Seton’s fourth successor as superior of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, Mother Mary Etienne Hall, effected the eventual union of the community with the Daughters of Charity. The Third Edition of Father Charles I. White’s biography of Mother Seton summarizes it thus:
«We have seen that from the very commencement of the community at Emmitsburg, a colony of French Sisters was expected to aid and initiate it in the practice of the rules. Since that time frequent applications were made, for the purpose of effecting a union between the society in France and that in the United States; but they were always unsuccessful, until a similar petition was more recently presented in the spring of 1849, by an American prelate, at the request of the Superior General, the Very Rev. Mr. Deluol (S.S.), and with the approbation of the Most Rev. Archbishop of Baltimore.The following summer, a still more explicit letter of application was presented by the superiors, through the Rev. Mariano Maller (C.M.), who at that time was on a visit to Europe. When he returned to America, in the month of October, he was the bearer of an answer favorable to the request of the Sisterhood at Emmitsburg. Shortly after, Mr. Deluol resigned the office of Superior General, and at his request Mr. Maller entered upon its duties as a provisional substitute. At that time the union with the society in France was not complete; but it was fully established on the 25th of March, 1850, when the Sisters in this country renewed their vows with that formula which is used by the society of St. Vincent de Paul. Since that period several members of St. Joseph’s community have visited Europe, to obtain an insight into the spirit which prevails there among their associates. The following year, on the 8th of December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, the Sisters at Emmitsburg assumed the habit which is common to those in France…».
It is significant, in connection with this union of the American and French Sisters that the Blessed Virgin had foretold to St. Catherine Labouré in the apparition of the night of July 18-19, 1830: «When the rule will have been restored in vigor, a community will ask to be united to your community. Such is not customary, but I love them; God will bless those who take them in; they will enjoy great peace».
In 1910, the Emmitsburg province was divided into two provinces, the Eastern headquarters remaining at Emmitsburg and the Western headquarters being established at Normandy, Missouri. In 1969 the two provinces were reassembled into five provinces, the three new headquarters being located at Albany, New York, Evansville, Indiana, and Los Altos Hills, California.
In 1846 Sisters on mission from Emmitsburg in the Diocese of New York separated from the Emmitsburg motherhouse to form the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of New York; the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Convent, New Jersey, were formed with the assistance of the New York Sisters in 1856 and 1859 respectively. In 1852 Sisters on Mission from Emmitsburg in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who had not joined the Union with the Daughters of Charity formed an independent community, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Ohio. Sisters from Cincinnati assisted in forming, in 1870, the Sisters of Charity of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
All of these communities regard Mother Seton as their foundress, and all of them follow the essential Vincentian Rule. Some years ago they formed with the American Daughters of Charity the Federation of Mother Seton’s Daughters by which they cooperate in spiritual and temporal matters.
In the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., the Patroness of the United States chosen by the American Bishops in 1846, there are three chapels donated by the American provinces of the Vincentian Fathers and Daughters of Charity. The main chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, is flanked by two smaller chapels dedicated to St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac respectively, each lighted by a single stained glass window. The St. Vincent chapel window depicts Venerable Felix de Andreis, C.M., who is described as « Father of the Vincentian community in America»; the St. Louise chapel window depicts St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is described as «Mother of the Vincentian community in America».
Those few words testify to our new saint’s whole spirituality and apostolate.
- Archives of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. (AB). Archives des Filies de la Charité, Paris, France (AFDLC), Labouré Papers. Archives of Mary Immaculate Seminary,, Northampton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (AMIS).
- Archives of St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Emmitsburg, Maryand, U.S.A. (ASJPH).
- Archives of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of New York, Mount St. Vincent-on-Hudson, New York, U.S.A. (AMSV).
- Archives of the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, U.S.A. (ANDU).
- Caulfield, Sister Marie Louise. Our Union With France, Emmitsburg, Maryland, U.S.A., 1855.
- Dirvin, Joseph I., C.M. Mrs. Seton, Foundress of the American Sisters of Charity, New York, 1962, 1975.
- White, Charles I. Life of Mrs. Eliza A. Seton, Third Edition, Baltimore, 1879.