Granite State Stories: New Hampshire’s first Catholic college

Saint Anselm College, founded in 1889, was the first Catholic college in New Hampshire and is the third-oldest in New England.

During the years after the Civil War, an increasing number of Catholic immigrants from Ireland and French Canada settled in Manchester, lured by the promise of manufacturing jobs.

By 1884, the Catholic population had grown large enough to justify creating a separate diocese in New Hampshire. Manchester’s first bishop, Denis Bradley, saw the need for a local college to educate his growing flock and prepare young men for the priesthood.

To avoid tension between the Irish and French Canadian communities, Bradley called upon German-speaking monks from the Benedictine order to establish the institution. The college opened its doors to students in 1893.

N.H. Historical Society