Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 104

La Piana, George, 1879-1971. Papers, 1878-1972.

Papers of George La Piana, John H. Morison Professor of Church History at Harvard Divinity School and leading figure in the modernist controversy in the Catholic Church during the early twentieth century. Materials include memoirs (English and Italian versions); manuscripts; college lecture notes; correspondence, 1908-1970; subject files; and biographical material as well as correspondence, 1919-1952, with Antonio Borgese, author and university professor; and correspondence, 1908-1946, with Ernesto Buonaiuti, Catholic priest, church historian, and leader in the modernist movement.


  • 1878-1972.


13.3 linear feet (41 boxes)

This collection includes manuscripts for La Piana's memoirs in both English and Italian; published and unpublished works by La Piana, lecture notes, correspondence, biographical material (including photographs of La Piana and his family), and subject files.

Biographical / Historical

George La Piana (1878-1971) was born in Italy, and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1900. He graduated from the Theological School of Monreale in 1900, the University of Geneva in 1908, and the University of Palermo in 1912. He emigrated to the United States in 1914, and joined the faculty of Harvard Divinity School in 1916 where he was the John H. Morison Professor of Church History from 1926 to 1948. He was a leading figure in the modernist controversy in the Catholic Church during the early twentieth century. His publications include a study of Byzantine liturgical theater, La Rappresentazion Sacre nella Letteratura Bizantine (1912); The Church of Rome at the End of the Second Century (1925); The Immigrant Groups in Rome During the First Three Centuries of the Empire (1927); and A Totalitarian Church in a Democratic State: The American Experience (1949).


Organized into the following series:
  1. Series I. Memoirs
  2. Subseries A. English version
  3. Subseries B. Italian version
  4. Series II. Manuscripts
  5. Subseries A. Titled manuscripts
  6. Subseries B. Untitled manuscripts
  7. Series III. College lecture notes
  8. Series IV. Printed material
  9. Series V. Correspondence
  10. Subseries A. Borgese, Giuseppe Antonio (1882-1952)
  11. Subseries B. Buonaiuti, Ernesto (1881-1946)
  12. Subseries C. Special correspondence
  13. Subseries D. General correspondence
  14. Series VI. Subject files
  15. Series VII. Biographical material
  16. Series VIII. Miscellaneous

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers were donated to the Andover-Harvard Theological Library by George La Piana in 1970.
La Piana, George, 1879-1971. Papers, 1878-1972: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Repository Details

Part of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

45 Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138-1911 USA
(617) 384-7904
617-496-4111 (Fax)