Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Gabriel Richard Collection

Finding aid created by
E. Brilinski, Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Gabriel Richard Collection,
Creator: Richard, Gabriel, 1767-1832.
Inclusive dates: 1792-1881, and undated
Extent: .25 cubic feet (in 1 box)
Collection of photocstatic copies and typed English translations of Richard's correspondence, biographical information, and other related material.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

no Acc#

Access Restrictions:

Gabriel Richard Collection is open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Gabriel Richard Collection is open for research., Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is alphabetical and then chronological.



Gabriel Richard was born at Saintes, France on October 15, 1767. He received a thorough classical and theological education and in 1791 became a priest of the Sulpitians, a society devoted to the care of young men for the sanctuary.

He came to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1792 and accepted the charge of Catholics in Illinois for six years. In 1798 he came to Detroit, Michigan, as a permanent pastor.

In Detroit, Fr. Richard was soon respected by both Protestants and Catholics for his actions promoting education and religion. He opened a school for young men in 1804 and one for ladies in 1805. Fr. Richard brought a printing press overland from Baltimore and, in August 1809, published the first newspaper west of the Allegheny Mountains. In the same year, he published the first prayer book for the same region. Also, Fr. Richard had the first organ in Michigan, for which he composed music.

Fr. Richard was taken captive at Sandwich (Essex County, Ontario, Canada), across the river from Detroit, in 1812 and he saved many prisoners from Indian tortures with his eloquence and influence.

In 1823 he was elected as a delegate to Congress, receiving large support from Protestants. Fr. Richard fought for grants to create Fort Gratiot, Pontiac, Grand River, and Chicago Roads. He was politically defeated in 1825.

In 1817 he helped co-founded the University of Michigan.

Fr. Richard was also instrumental in helping Detroit’s cholera victims during a massive epidemic. Sadly, he became of a victim of the disease himself and died on September 13, 1832. (This information is from Michigan Biographies, v. II.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection includes photostatic copies and English transcripts of Fr. Richard’s correspondence and other materials. The collection was probably copied from various archives including the Clements Library and the Library of Congress. Among the correspondents are other Catholic prelates, Francis Navarre, the Michigan Legislature, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, William Woodbridge, Alexander Fraser, and St. Anne’s Parish.

Other papers include Richard’s last wills and testaments, October 1, 1806 and October 31, 1821; his inventory, 1833; a report about a fire in Detroit, 1809; petitions to the Michigan Legislature, including one promoting the education of Indians, 1809; papers about the Society of Catholic Schools in Michigan, 1815; and testimonies of court cases involving Fr. Richard, 1823. Most of the letters and other papers were written by Fr. Richard in French. Topics cover political, religious, and educational matters and Detroit.

Most of the letters and other papers were written by Fr. Richard in French. Topics cover political, religious, and educational matters and Detroit.

Information about and correspondence with Fr. Richard may also be found in the Francis Navarre, St. Anne’s Church, and Charles J. Walker Collections in the Clarke Historical Library, as well as in numerous books. Item-level index cards are also available to assist researchers.

Subject Terms

    • Richard, Gabriel, 1767-1832.
    • Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
    • Madison, James, 1751-1836.
    • Navarre, Francis, 1763-1826.
    • Woodbridge, William, 1743-1826.
    • St. Anne's Church (Detroit, Mich.)
    • Detroit (Mich.)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Gabriel Richard Collection is open for research.. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Biographical Materials, undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Letters and Papers, 1792-1806
    Box   1 F   3
    Letters and Papers, 1807-1822
    Box   1 F   4
    Letters and Papers, 1823
    Box   1 F   5
    Letters and Papers, 1824
    Box   1 F   6
    Letters and Papers, 1825-1827
    Box   1 F   7
    Letters and Papers, 1829-1833
    Box   1 F   8
    Letters and Papers, 1881
    Box   1 F   9
    Letters and Papers, undated