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Marian holy cards collection

Identifier: ML-031

Scope and Content

This collection contains approximately 10,000 holy cards and printed ephemera depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary, Madonna and Child, events in the life of Jesus and Mary, titles associated with Mary, and shrines and churches associated with Mary.

Materials in this collection primarily include holy cards. The collection also includes some prayer cards and leaflets, novenas, funeral cards, souvenir cards, ordination cards, photographs, small calendars, membership cards, clippings, handmade devotional materials, handwritten notes, brochures, pamphlets, and other realia and ephemera.

Some materials may have been used by Catholics in private devotion, purchased as souvenirs (typically from Marian shrines or during pilgrimage to Catholic holy sites), or distributed to commemorate a Catholic sacrament or occasion.

The holy cards in this collection are approximately 2.5" x 4.5", and include a variety of styles, such as rectangular cards with a straight edges, die-cut lace bordered cards, and cards with decorative or scalloped edges. The majority of the cards are printed on paper, but some have been printed on cloth or vellum. Many cards contain text or a prayer on the verso and some cards include handwritten notes. Many cards were created to commemorate a Catholic sacrament, in which case information about the individual and occasion is printed on the verso. The majority of holy cards in the collection were printed in Europe from circa 1860 through circa 1950.

The collection includes both popular, mass-produced materials as well as early printing (circa 1700), and unique or rare materials. Some materials in the collection appear to have been made by hand, and include textile work, illustration, and collage.


  • circa 1675-present
  • Majority of material found within 1860 - 1950



This collection is open and available to the public for research in the Marian Library reading room. The materials are non-circulating.

Copyright Notice

The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner or his or her heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.

History of the Marian Library

The Marian Library was founded by the Marianists of the University of Dayton in 1943 to make the Blessed Virgin Mary better known, loved, and served. It is a special library whose presence on campus is a significant expression of the university's Catholic and Marianist identity. Its collections are developed and maintained to preserve and provide access to materials that support its mission of fostering Marian scholarship and sound Marian devotion.

The Marian Library is recognized both nationally and internationally as a center for scholarship on the Blessed Virgin Mary. It serves the research needs of faculty and students of the International Marian Research Institute and of the broader University of Dayton community, and of visitors throughout the world. It also documents the diverse expressions of popular devotion to Mary, and it provides public outreach through its exhibits, tours, and reference services.

For more information on the Marian Library, please see the International Marian Research Institute.


8 Linear Feet (30 card boxes)

Language of Materials

Multiple languages


This collection contains approximately 10,000 holy cards and printed ephemera related to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Madonna and Child, events in the life of Jesus and Mary, Marian titles, and Marian shrines.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

  1. Marian themes
  2. Life of Jesus and Mary
  3. Marian shrines
  4. Marian titles
  5. Publishers
  6. Sacraments
  7. Catholic themes
  8. Oversized and three-dimensional
  9. Publishers
  10. Artists
Guide to the Marian holy cards collection, circa 1675-present
Jillian Slater
October 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Marian Library

Repository Details

Part of the University Libraries Repository

300 College Park Dr.
Dayton Ohio 45469-1360