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Rev. J. Clayton Murray, S.J., Biography

“When they put me down here, I looked up what should and shouldn’t be put into archives.  Everywhere I looked, it said, ‘Nothing living.’  That’s how I know I’m the only living archive."

-- Father Murray

John Clayton Murray was born on June 24, 1900 to John Murray, a railroad worker, and his wife Margaret.  He grew up on the West Side of Buffalo, N.Y. where he attended public schools until he was awarded a scholarship in 1916 which enabled him to complete his secondary education at Canisius High School.  It was here that John C. Murray was first introduced to the Jesuit life.  When he graduated from Canisius High School in 1918, he chose to become a Jesuit himself and took his first vows in 1920.


A picture of Canisius High School's class of 1918. 

Fr. Murray can be seen on the extreme left of the top row.


For ten years, John Murray applied himself to his Jesuit studies, earning an A.B., A.M., and finally his Ph.D. at Georgian University in Rome.  After his ordination in 1931, Fr. Murray took his first position teaching Latin, Greek, and English at Brooklyn Preparatory School in Brooklyn, NY.  From 1932-34, he taught philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  In 1935, Fr. Murray returned to Buffalo to teach philosophy at Canisius College.  In addition to his teaching duties at Canisius, Fr. Murray also served as a student counselor and director of the student chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.


Two officers of the 1936 student chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society with their first-time advisor.

L-R:John J. O'Brien('37), Fr. Murray, Thomas F. Quinlivan('37).


When World War II interrupted student life at Canisius, Fr. Murray made sure to keep in contact with alumni and students serving in the war.  He mailed copies of the student paper The Griffin overseas and maintained correspondence with Canisians through letters.  Fr. Murray also encouraged the students still at Canisius to attend Masses and services for their fellow brothers-at-arms.

After the war, Fr. Murray continued his teaching duties but cut his classroom time in half in 1965 when he began working as the college’s part-time archivist.  By 1975, Fr. Murray retired entirely from teaching and became the full-time Director of the Archives.  It was here that Fr. Murray was able to indulge his love of history while often adding his own anecdotes to the history of Canisius College.  One of his most important legacies was the compilation of the College's history entitled "Datelines: A Historical Retrospective of the Last 125 Years of Canisius College" which was published in the 1980s.  Successive editions have been published to update the datelines while the Archives maintains an on-line Datelines page that covers Canisian history from 1995 to the present. 

In June 1983, age and health complications forced Fr. Murray to retire from Archives altogether.  In 1988, Canisuis's faithful servant died at the age of 88.  Because of his contribution to and love of the Archives, the Rev. J. Clayton Murray, S.J. Archives now bears his name.