Baraga, Frederic, 1797-1868

Alternative names
Birth 1797-06-29
Death 1868-01-19
German, Slovenian, Latin, Ojibwa, French, English

Biographical notes:

Frederic Baraga was born on June 29, 1797 in a Slovene province of Dobrinic, Carniola, later known as Slovenia. After receiving his preparatory education in Ljubljana, where his talent for languages was marked, he studied law at the University of Vienna. Upon graduation in 1821 he broke his engagement to marry, renounced his inheritance, and entered Ljubljana's seminary. He was ordained September 21, 1823. In 1830 he emigrated to the United States, and devoted thirty- six years of his life to the Ojibwa and Ottawa. In 1843 he was apponted to the parish at L'Anse (Michigan) on Keweenaw Bay. His books on the grammar and vocabulary of the Ojibway language are still accepted as standard texts. He died on January 19, 1868.

From the description of The Frederic Baraga papers. 1831-1896. (Catholic University of America). WorldCat record id: 133154166

Missionary among the Chippewas in Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan (1831-1853). Consecrated a bishop in 1853, he served as Bishop of Sainte-Marie (1857-1865) and of Sault Sainte-Marie and Marquette (1865-1868).

From the description of Papers, 1809-1908. (University of Notre Dame). WorldCat record id: 24960327

Baraga was born on June 29, 1797 in Slovenia, which was then part of the Austrian empire. He studied law at the University of Vienna, graduating in 1821. On Sept. 21, 1823, he was ordained a priest. In 1829 he applied to work as a missionary in the Diocese of Cincinnati, which included the states of Ohio and Michigan and the Territory of the Hurons to the west. He arrived in Cincinnati in 1831. He worked at Indian missions in Arbre Croche (now Harbor Springs, Mich.) and La Pointe (Wis.), and established missions at Grand River (now Grand Rapids, Mich.) and L'Anse (Mich.). Baraga wrote 32 books, including the first Chippewa (Ojibwa) grammar and dictionary, as well as prayer books and catechisms in Ottawa, Chippewa, French, German, English, and Slovenian. He was named Bishop of Michigan in 1852. His diocese then included Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a lot of the Lower Peninsula, northern Wisconsin, and the northern shore of Lake Superior, all of which he constantly visited. He died on Jan. 19, 1868. (Information from the Catholic Encyclopedia and the collection. The Clarke Historical Library also has a collection of his books.).

From the description of Papers, 1809-1908. (Clarke Historical Library). WorldCat record id: 43207715

Called the "Indian Apostle of the Northwest", Baraga served the Chippewas and the Ottawas in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin from 1831-1868. He studied the Chippewa language, translating religious books, and writing Theoretical and practical grammar of the Otchipwe language (1850), and Dictionary of the Otchipwe language (1853).

From the description of [Letter] : Sau[l]t Ste. Marie, Mich., to Mr. [James B.] Kirker, New York [N.Y.], 1859 Oct. 31. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 52851378


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  • Ojibwa Indians--Catechisms
  • Missionaries
  • Indians of North America--Missions
  • Missions
  • Ojibwa Indians--Missions
  • Ojibwa language--Grammar
  • Religion
  • Catholic Church
  • Ottawa Indians--Catechisms
  • Manuscripts, American


  • Missionaries


  • Wisconsin--La Pointe (as recorded)
  • Michigan--Grand Rapids (as recorded)
  • Grand Rapids (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Ojibway (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Michigan--L'Anse (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Michigan--Sault Sainte Marie (as recorded)
  • Mackinac Island (Mich. : Island) (as recorded)
  • Chippewa Tribe (as recorded)
  • Michigan--Marquette Region (as recorded)
  • Michigan--Harbor Springs (as recorded)
  • Sault Sainte Marie (Mich.) (as recorded)