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Fr. Sylvester Eisenman collection

Identifier: MS-053

Content Description

The Eisenman Collection is divided into seven series: Correspondence, Financial Documents, Legal Documents, Photographs, Printed Materials, Topical Files and Typescripts. The Correspondence series is divided into four sub-series: Incoming, Outgoing, Miscellaneous and Solicitations. The first two sub-series contain letters to and from Eisenman. These letters cover mission business and thank you letters for donations. Incoming and Outgoing sub-series are organized alphabetically. Inclusive dates were used when a recipient or author had more than one letter. A single date indicates only one letter. The Miscellaneous Correspondence is from Eisenmen’s peers, such as priests and other missionaries, but they were not addressed specifically to Eisenman. The majority of the letters concern Indian missions and their operation. Some of the miscellaneous correspondence, which covers St. Paul Mission business, was written after Eisenman’s death. The Solicitation correspondence contains letters that were sent to donors requesting monetary contributions for the mission and school. Bookmarks and other ephemera that were enclosed with these letters were not removed and remain with the letters. The Miscellaneous and Solicitation correspondence are organized chronologically. The Financial Documents series concerns land holdings of the mission. The series contains receipts, property tax information and personal income materials and are arranged alphabetically by type of document. The Legal Documents series contains legal papers concerning the land and taxability of the mission. These documents are arranged chronologically. The Photographs series contains actual photographs (not photocopies of images) of an event that may be a pow wow or some other type of celebration at the mission. There is also a picture of small children, possibly Eisenmen’s nieces and nephew. Also included is a picture of “little Dan,” which was used on solicitation letters and for The Little Bronzed Angel publication. The Printed Materials series contains newspaper clippings concerning activities at the mission and several articles on Mother Katherine Drexel, including several of her obituaries. The materials are undated, and are arranged alphabetically by title of the article. The Typescript series contains a diary whose author is unidentified, but is likely Eisenman. The diary contains records of day-to-day life at the mission that Eisenman directed. Also in this series are historical accounts on several topics about the Marty Indian School such as the nuns who served at Marty, the history of the school, and the Government Hospital for Indians. There are also several essays that cover Catholic and Native American topics. The Topical files contain information on the construction of several buildings at the mission and the surrounding areas, real estate documents and school records from the Greenwood school and St. Paul’s. In the St. Katherine’s Chapel file are handwritten notes describing the painting Heaven and the Roads to Heaven.


  • 1916 - 1962

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research without restrictions. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to visiting. Advance notice may be needed to retrieve items for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers must obtain a signed Permission to Publish Form if they wish to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information from published and unpublished works held by ASC. Permission to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information materials from ASC does not constitute permission from the holder of copyright or literary rights. The researcher is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce content from materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Fr. Sylvester Eisenman was born Norbert Eisenman to Edward Landelin Eisenman and Elizabeth Mary Hulsman on January 10, 1891 in New Albany, Indiana. Eisenman had five brothers, two who also became priests and one who died in infancy. In May of 1895, Edward Eisenman went Montana to work for the Kentucky-Montana Mining Company. He was killed in a freak accident in July of 1895. Norbert Eisenman had a great desire to become a Jesuit and in 1906 he attended St. Meinard College. On Aug. 15, 1911 he took vows and received the name Sylvester. He was ordained as a priest on May 25, 1916 at St. Meinrad Abbey, Indiana. Eisenman became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict. Eisenman had contracted tuberculosis and his superiors felt that if he was sent as a missionary to North Dakota he could recover. He was sent to the Seven Dollors Mission at Forth Totten, ND in 1916. In the fall of 1918, he was transferred to Stephen, South Dakota and he spent the majority of his time on the road traveling to ten different missions. This constant travel earned him the name of Ti-kdi-sni or Never at Home. In 1921, three chiefs, Yellow Bird, Thunder Horse and Dave Zephier, personally petitioned Eisenman’s abbot to have him permanently assigned to St. Paul’s Mission in Marty, South Dakota. The petition was successful and Eisenman began his lifelong career at St. Paul’s. In 1920 Eisenman tried to establish a day school at Marty but it was unsuccessful. He realized that a boarding school would be a better option and in 1922 he opened the school with the help of from Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia. For the next twenty years, Eisenman worked tirelessly for the Mission and the school by expanding the campus and raising funds. The publication The Little Bronzed Angel was created to help solicit funds for the school and inform the donors of the mission’s activities. Eisenman received much assistance and support from Mother Katherine Drexel. With her help, Eisenman founded the Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which began on October 6, 1935 with the admittance of its first postulants. The Order is located at St. Sylvester Convent in Marty, SD. Eisenman died on September 14, 1948. The Marty Indian School is still in operation under the direction of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.


0.75 Linear Feet (2 document boxes)

Language of Materials



Most of the Father Sylvester Eisenman collection is related to the business of running the school and mission in Marty, SD. All the materials in the collection are photocopies of original documents, and the source of the photocopies is unknown. There are few personal items.


The Eisenman Collection is divided into seven series: Correspondence, Financial Documents, Legal Documents, Photographs, Printed Materials, Typescripts and Topical Files and Typescripts.

Related Materials

Sylvester Eisenman Papers, Indianapolis Archdiocese Archives, Indianapolis, Indiana
Fr. Sylvester Eisenman collection
Anne Hinseth
2000 December
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository