The indipetae were letters written by Jesuits to their Superior General in application for the extra-European missions, usually called the “Indies.” In Latin, applying for the Indies was petere Indias; from this are derived the expressions indipetae (the letters) and indipeti (the applicants). After the Suppression (1773) and the Restoration (1814) of the Society of Jesus, the tradition of writing these petitions continued.
Now available as an open access resource, the Digital Indipetae Database collects the indipetae of both the Old and the New Society. Users can search the letters by a number of facets — the full text, a sender’s name or location, the date a letter was sent, the destination desired, and the names of saints quoted among the others. The database also hosts scans of the original letters that are housed at the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu and other Jesuit archives. The public launch of the database took place at a Jesuit Studies Café on March 26, 2020.
The Portal to Jesuit Studies aggregates the contents of the indipetae database and includes them within its search capabilities.
The database is an initiative of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies. It developed at Boston College Libraries in partnership with the Institute and Emanuele Colombo of DePaul University. Colombo serves as the database’s editor. He is supported by members of an editorial board and a scientific board. The project leads during the development were Seth Meehan, associate director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, and Kimberly Kowal, the associate university librarian for digital initiatives and services at Boston College. Learn more about the development process–including how to access the database’s coding–at https://indipetae.bc.edu/team.