Skip to main content

Monsignor Joseph L. O'Brien papers

Identifier: A-03-1061

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised largely of photograph albums, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings regarding Monsignor Joseph O'Brien and his family. Included are obituaries for O'Brien's parents, articles regarding his brother, a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn, and his sister, a nun for the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Greenville, South Carolina.  Also included are writings by Monsignor O'Brien, including articles he wrote for the Catholic Register. Postmortem photographs, obituaries, and a funeral sermon given at the death of Monsignor O'Brien are included as well.


  • Created: 1917-1958, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 10/30/2013


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Diocese of Charleston makes no representation that it is the owner of any copyright or other literary property in the materials contained in its archives. In providing access to or permitting the reproduction of any such materials, the Diocese of Charleston does not assume any responsibility for determining the nature of any rights, ownership or interest therein; nor for obtaining the appropriate permissions to publish or use; nor for determining the nature of any liabilities (for defamation and invasion of privacy) that may arise from any publication or use. This rests entirely with the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

Joseph Laurence O'Brien, a Roman Catholic priest, author, and educator, was born in 1884 in Avoca, Pennsylvania, to Thomas F. O'Brien and Sarah A. Morahan. O’Brien was the oldest of five children. His brother, Reverend William O’Brien was a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn, in New York. His sister, Mary Gerald, was a nun with the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1910, O’Brien earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and in 1912, a Master of Arts degree from the International Catholic University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He was ordained in Fribourg, in 1912. Originally, O’Brien was a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. However, Bishop Henry Northrop adopted O'Brien to the Diocese of Charleston in 1910 and he came to Charleston in 1914. O'Brien served at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1914-1929. Along with Father James J. May, O’Brien founded Bishop England High School (BEHS) in Charleston, and served as its rector from its beginning in 1915 until 1947. He was responsible for the original construction of the BEHS Calhoun Street campus, the construction of a brick parochial school building on St. Philip Street for St. Patrick Parish, and renovation of St. Patrick church and rectory. In 1930, in recognition of his work in Catholic education, O’Brien was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and earned the nickname “Doc.” He was made a domestic prelate by Pope Pius XI in 1934. O'Brien served St. Patrick Parish, Charleston, from 1929 until his death in 1952.

Note written by


0.42 linear_foot (1 document box)

Language of Materials



Photograph albums, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings regarding Monsignor Joseph O'Brien and his family. Also incudes writings by Monsignor O'Brien.

Arrangement Note

1. Family 2. Writings 3. Death

Source of Acquisition

Received from Thomas F. O'Brien on October 30, 2013.

Method of Acquisition


Processing Information

Processed by Melissa Mabry, May 2018.

Inventory of the Monsignor Joseph L. O'Brien papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston Archives Repository

114 Broad Street
Carriage House
Charleston SC 29401 US