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Joseph Dutton Papers

Identifier: DUT

Scope and Content

Correspondence (originals and copies), with Daniel E. Hudson, CSC, editor of The Ave Maria; Mrs. B.J. Semmes, his god-mother, and her daughter-in-law, Mrs. J. M. Semmes; and Thomas Kilby Smith and Walter George Smith (1854-1924), sons of a Civil War companion; with a copy of a journal that Dutton kept during the Civil War, 1855- 1864, articles about, and relics of, Father Damien, and a copy of Charles J. Dutton's The Samaritans of Molokai.


  • Creation: 1855-1981.


Language of Materials



Ira Dutton was a Catholic lay missionary at the leper settlement of Kalaupapa, Molokai Island, Hawaii. Dutton, born in Stowe, Vermont, served as a lieutenant in the Union Army during the Civil War, and later as a claims adjuster for the War Department. He married shortly after the war, his wife deserting him within a year and leaving him in a state of drunken dissipation. In 1883, on his fortieth birthday, he was baptized into the Catholic faith.

He spent two years as an oblate at the Trappist monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky. In 1886 he learned of the work of Father Damien de Veuster, SS.CC., with the lepers of Kalaupapa and decided that a life of service there would be a suitable means of penance for his years of dissipation. Dutton arrived on the island in 1886, working with Father Damien until Damien's death in 1889, and remaining on the island until the time of his own death in 1931.


7 linear inches.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Many papers were originally sent by Dutton to Hudson. The copy of the Civil War journal was a gift of John Paul Cullen. One folder of letters and miscellany was a gift of Sr. Reginald Condon, OP.

Joseph Dutton Papers
University of Notre Dame Archives
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Archives Repository

607 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame Indiana 46556 United States
(574) 631-6448