Abp. John Ireland, upon Griffin's death:
"Today no one writes of [American Catholic history] without first having asked himself what judgment thereon Martin I.J. Griffin had promulgated."
A pioneer in the field of Catholic history, Griffin was a Philadelphia native, baptized in Old St. Joseph's Church. He edited the Records of the American Catholic Historical Society from 1887–1911, and among his books were biographies of Commodore John Barry and Thomas Fitzsimons. His stature as an historian led the organizers of the American Historical Association to invite him to join as an inaugural member in 1891.