Father Peter Yorke Collection

Finding aid created by Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco staff using RecordEXPRESS
Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco
320 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, California 94025
(650) 328-6502

Descriptive Summary

Title: Father Peter Yorke Collection
Dates: 1895-1941 (bulk 1895-1918)
Collection Number: CLER_YOR.P
Creator/Collector: Yorke, Peter C.
Extent: 2 cubic feet; 3 flat boxes and 8 folders
Repository: Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco
Menlo Park, California 94025
Abstract: The collection includes primary and secondary source materials relating to the ordained religious life, activities, and history of Father Peter Christopher Yorke, a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, labor and education advocate, and notable figure in San Francisco history.
Language of Material: English


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Archivist at the Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco (AASF), 320 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Consent is given on behalf of the Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner.

Preferred Citation

Father Peter Yorke Collection. Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco

Biography/Administrative History

Father Peter Christopher Yorke was born in Galway, Ireland, and in 1882, he began studies for the priesthood for the Diocese of Galway at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth. After becoming a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1887, he received a licentiate in theology from Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. in 1891. Father Yorke's first appointment was to Saint Mary's Cathedral, and in 1894, he was appointed Chancellor for the Archdiocese and Secretary to Archbishop William Riordan. The same year he was appointed editor of the archdiocesan newspaper The Monitor. After a conflict with Riordan, he served briefly as an assistant at St. Peter's parish in San Francisco, before becoming pastor of St. Anthony's parish in Oakland from 1903 until 1913, and pastor at St. Peter's from 1913 until his death in 1925. Father Yorke obtained legendary status among San Francisco Catholics for his prominent role in a number of conflicts and developments. First, as editor of The Monitor during the 1890s, he vanquished the anti-Catholic American Protective Association in San Francisco through public debate and exposés published in The Monitor. Second, he emerged as spiritual leader and chief publicist for the union during the great Teamsters Strike of 1901. Third, he founded and edited a newspaper, The Leader, in 1902, a weekly publication that centered on issues and causes of interest to laborers and Irish Catholics in San Francisco and Oakland. Fourth, he published a series of Textbooks of Religious that adapted the Baltimore Catechism to appropriate grade levels. These texts were adopted and used throughout the archdiocese and elsewhere. Yorke served as an unofficial superintendent of Catholic schools in the archdiocese, and was instrumental in the creation of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) in 1904. Fifth, Yorke vigorously supported the fight for a free Irish state, particularly supporting the efforts of Eamon de Valera. Finally, as pastor at St. Peter's, Yorke introduced a variety of liturgical reforms including congregational singing, use of missals, and a Children's Mass, in which the children recited the appropriate response in English.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection includes correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings scrapbooks, and objects such as a memoriam by the San Francisco Labor Board recognizing Father Yorke's contributions to the labor cause. The collection also includes are books published by Father Yorke on parochial education and his sermons.

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