DePaul University Libraries > About > About the Library > Commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) > Accountability Framework > Buildings, Monuments, and Names

Buildings, Monuments, and Names

Reckoning with the names of our buildings and collections 

The Richardson Library Building and the Archives


Recently, it was disclosed that Bishop Joseph Rosati and other Vincentians held slaves in Missouri and Louisiana. A large conference room in the library and the archives of the Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission had previously been named for Bishop Rosati.


The University and the Library have taken action:

...While Bishop Rosati is clearly connected to the Vincentians who sponsor DePaul University, he has no direct connection to DePaul University. In fact, his actions took place more than 75 years before the founding of our university. However, our university is part of the Vincentian family, and we therefore acknowledge that these facts are connected to the history of our sponsor. 

Conference Room 300 in the Richardson Library once bore Bishop Rosati’s name, and consistent with our values, we removed his name. The Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission’s DeAndreis-Rosati Memorial Archives, held at DePaul University, will be renamed The Vincentian Archives. Rev. Patrick McDevitt, C.M., provincial of the Western Province, has committed to facilitate discussions to more fully examine connections between the Vincentians and the vile practice of slavery. 

Although these actions do not directly involve the university, DePaul is committed to our Catholic, Vincentian identity, as well as confronting historical realities. To fully embrace our present, we must acknowledge wounds inflicted by past actions. We will do so to model for our students and others what it looks like and means to face these facts in a mission-driven way. As such, we will keep you advised of the findings and further developments from this important effort. 



Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., President   

Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., Vice President, Mission and Ministry


Other Campus Monuments, Buildings and Names

Interrogating the university’s history may necessarily involve the discovery of more slave owners and/or similar people within the order and/or who may be more directly connected with the university. The library and the university will take appropriate actions as we uncover more about our past.


A Brief History of Vincentian Slaveholding

     [...] Somewhat surprising to modem readers is the fact that the seminary and the Vincentians throughout Missouri and Louisiana supported themselves by means of slaves. From the day of his arrival in the United States, Felix De Andreis was determined that unlike the Sulpicians and the Jesuits, the Vincentians would never become slaveholders. In 1819, however, he was forced to accept the American reality when Dubourg sent some slave women to work in the kitchen at the seminary. When Baccari learned of this, he expressed serious reservations, not over the fact of slaveholding, but because women, of any state or color, were being admitted into the house. De Andreis replied with a long letter of explanation and gave what were to be the standard justifications for Vincentian slave-holding: the lack of brothers and the fact that “necessity knows no law.” [De Andreis to Baccari, 4 February 1820, copy in the Vincentian Archives at DePaul University, De Andreis letterbook #2.] The identification of the brothers’ work with that of slaves was repeated many times and undoubtedly helped to fuel the brothers’ discontent….

     [...] The greatest increase in slaves at the Barrens took place while Rosati was superior. His last known purchase was of an eight-year ­old boy in 1821. By 1830 there were twenty-seven slaves at the seminary, of whom seven were probably rented from local people, though that was still the largest single concentration of slaves in the county. There was a high turnover in the slave population at the seminary. The seminary also bought and sold slaves to various priests, parishes, and religious institutions up and down the Mississippi valley.

     Slaveholding presented numerous problems, though not about the morality of slavery itself….

     [...] With rare exceptions American born blacks did not begin entering the Vincentian Community in the United States until the 1960s...

      From “The American Vincentians. 02 – I. A survey of American Vincentian History: 1815-1987” (from The American Vincentians: A popular history of the Congregation of the Mission in the United States 1815-1987, Vincentian Studies Institute, New City Press, Brooklyn New York, 1988; accessed at on 31 August 2021)


In the summer of 2021, the Archdiocese of St. Louis explored more deeply into Bishop Rosati’s ownership of slaves:

Archdiocese’s research into history with slavery reveals three bishops, priests as slaveowners 

By Jennifer Brinker


Not much is known about Harry and Jenny. Their last name is listed in records with several variations: Nebbit, Nibbit and Nesbit. But what is known is that the couple, who were enslaved for much of their lives, was purchased by Bishop William DuBourg in 1822, along with the couple’s nine children at the time.

     Five years later, their ownership was transferred to Bishop DuBourg’s successor, Bishop Joseph Rosati…

     [...] Bishop William DuBourg (who at the time was Bishop of Louisiana and the Two Floridas, with his episcopal seat in St. Louis), Bishop Joseph Rosati, and Archbishop Peter Kenrick, along with an unknown number of clergy, enslaved people. The archives office has compiled a list of 85 names of people who were enslaved. However, that number is expected to fluctuate as records and variations in names are further researched, said Eric Fair, director of archives….

     [...] Another enslaved person, a woman named Aspasia, sued several times for her freedom, before, during, and after her enslavement to Bishop Rosati. She eventually won her freedom based on her own court records, other court records from her family members and a freedom license that appears to be hers, according to researchers….


Ask a Librarian

Make an Appointment

You can also contact us by: