Hidden Catholic Collections
Much rare and unique content lies in the archives of Catholic institutions across North America. There reside valuable photographs, letters, diaries, institutional reports, newsletters, oral histories, and many more types of primary source materials documenting the Catholic experience. They reveal the history of Catholic activism, community-building, devotions, education, governance, health care, lived experience, and ministry over the centuries. Yet these materials have relevance for more than just historians of Catholicism. As leading scholars have shown again and again, the history of Catholicism is the history of the American, Canadian, and Indigenous nations that inhabit the continent.
Accessing materials in Catholic archives can be difficult. Unequal resources hamper the extent to which archivists and librarians can make these materials available for researchers. Tight budgets and large amounts of material can limit collection processing, conservation, digitization efforts, and reading room hours. The COVID Pandemic has added another impediment, making it even more difficult for scholars, students, and those with an interest in Catholic History to travel to these archives. Even in the face of these challenges, archivists and librarians work hard to make these collections available to researchers.
The ACHA’s Hidden Catholic Collections Project asked archivists and librarians to nominate collections in their holdings that they think have high historic value but might not receive as much scholarly attention as they should. By harnessing the power and reach of ACHA’s social media platforms and website, we have been shining the spotlight on a new collection each week this year. If you missed a week’s posting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, this page will serve as an aggregator of that content. If you think a collection might be helpful to your research or you just see something you like, please reach out to the archivist or librarian to let them know!
If you have a collection that you would like to highlight or a question about the initiative, please email ACHA Executive Council Member Kyle Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This week, we explore two noteworthy collections from the Archdiocese of New Orleans: The Archbishop Joseph Rummel Collection and the sacramental registers Collection.
Joseph H. Fichter, S.J. Papers: Special Collections and Archives, Monroe Library at Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
The Joseph H. Fichter, S.J. Papers document the life and work of the prominent priest, scholar, and social reformer. Born in 1908 in New Jersey, …
World War II Active Duty Xavier Former Student Records, 1941-1946: Xavier University of Louisiana Archives & Special Collections, New Orleans, LA
This week we explore the letters of Srs. Madeleine Sophie and Mary Frances, who each served as dean of Xavier University of Louisiana as many of their students went off to fight in World War II.
Our #HiddenCatholicCollection this week highlights a collection held in the Redemptorist Archives in Philadelphia about a devotional object which has managed to captivate pilgrims and skeptics alike: the Shroud of Turin.
The Robert H. Lord papers held by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston span the years 1842 to 1988. The collection consists of handwritten and typed correspondence, manuscripts and drafts, research materials, sermons, notes, and photographs.
This week’s #HiddenCatholicCollections features the Jesuit mission to Zambia, undertaken by the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), from 1946-1969. Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) was the third overseas mission for Irish Jesuits, after Australia (1865) and Hong Kong (1926), and was initially called the Chikuni Mission.
David Goldstein and Martha Moore Avery Papers: John J. Burns Library, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
The David Goldstein and Martha Moore Avery papers relate mainly to their association with and disavowal of Socialism, their conversion to Catholicism, and their subsequent lecture tours.
Clericus is a digital humanities research project that aims to develop a database on the Irish clerical population for the early modern and modern periods.
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ were founded in Italy in 1834. In 1870, a group of Adorers from Baden, Germany came to the United States. In 1876, with Clementine Zerr as their leader, the group moved to Ruma in rural southern Illinois, a place that would eventually house its first U.S. motherhouse.
The World War II collection at the Daughters of Charity Archives, Province of St. Louise documents the American community and its efforts to assist the refugees of the War alongside the Catholic War Relief Services on the European front and its sisters’ time as nurses in the interior of China on the Pacific front.
Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SNDdeN Papers: East West Province Archives of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Ipswich, MA
This week we feature the papers of Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SNDdeN (1921-2004), sociologist and Chair for the Sociology Department at Emmanuel College, Boston, MA.
Church of the Sacred Heart, South Plainfield, N.J.: Parish Organizations and Service Groups Responding to the Evolving Community and Cultural Needs
In the 100-plus years since Sacred Heart Church was established, parish groups and organizations have served their community. As society and societal realities have changed over the years, Sacred Heart has responded, in part, through their parish organizations and service groups.
This week’s #HiddenCatholicCollection focuses on the North American Agency Papers preserved in the archives of the Venerable English College (VEC) in Rome, the oldest British institution outside the United Kingdom.
Sr. Mary of the Compassion Stations of the Cross: Mary Nona McGreal, OP, Center for Dominican Historical Studies, Dominican University
A special Holy Week edition of #HiddenCatholicCollection: a Stations of the Cross series created by Sr. Mary of the Compassion of the Society of the Perpetual Rosary of Union City, NJ, held at the Mary Nona McGreal, OP, Center for Dominican Historical Studies.
Dominican Brother Edward Doyle, O.P. served as a Chaplain with the U.S. Army’s 104th Infantry Division during World War II. His papers principally relate to the 40th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion and the 1st U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council International Liberators Conference.
Pre-Vatican II Music Collection, Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows Archives, Chicago Servite Provincial Archives, Chicago
This week we’ll take a look at a 417 piece pre-Vatican II music collection, dating from 1864 to 1964.
Discover the papers of Sr. Gretchen Bogan, CSJ (1915-1999), a talented playwright, poet, artist and teacher, in the collection of the Boston CSJ Archives.
The collection catalogues the order’s history from its founding in Le Puy, France in 1650 to its present-day home in London, Ontario.
Church of the Sacred Heart, South Plainfield, NJ: The Development and Evolution of Parish Catholic Education
The Archives of the Church of the Sacred Heart, South Plainfield, New Jersey is a professionally curated and processed collection documenting over 110 years of parish history and service to the community.
Archives of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Conventual Franciscan Friars in Mt. St. Francis, Indiana
Conventual Franciscan Friars first arrived in the US in 1852 to serve German-speaking immigrants around Galveston, Texas. The Province of Our Lady of Consolation was founded in 1926 by Friars en route to Buffalo who were told to report to Carey, OH instead.
This week we explore the archives of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, commonly known as Victory Noll Sisters, an order of Catechists based in Indiana who provided religious education, social services and health care in the Southwest from the 1920s.
This week we highlights the papers of Society for the Divine Word missionary Harold Rigney, SVD (1900-1980) teacher of paleontology in Ghana, author of book recounting his imprisonment and torture in communist China, and beloved administrator. His experiences became the subject of the book Four Years in a Red Hell (1956).
Our #HiddenCatholicCollection this week features the papers of Servite Father James M. Keane, O.S.M. (1901-1975), founder of the Novena in Honor of Our Sorrowful Mothers, sponsor of a full-length film of Solemn High Mass, and host of the weekly telecast “Behold thy Mother.”
Augustinians of the Assumption (Assumptionists), Archive of the North American Province, Moscow Mission Collection
Housed in the Archives of the North American Province of the Assumptionists in the Provincial House in Boston, MA, the Moscow Mission Collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, photos, video reels, baptism & marriage certificates, etc. spanning this time period. Due to the destruction of religious documents within the USSR, researchers of the religious presence in the USSR rely on collections outside of Russia, and the Assumptionists’ has been considered one of the largest extant collections of its kind.
The Archives of the Society of the Sacred Heart, United States-Canada Province include documents and visuals about the mission, ministry, governance and life of the Religious of the Sacred Heart in North America.
Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week is the Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers in Georgetown University’s Booth Family Center for Special Collections. The papers provide insight into Jesuit slaveholding during the early national period (1815-1827). The collection consists of the memoirs, observations, and expositions of a Jesuit who worked principally as manager of St. Inigoes, a Jesuit house and plantation in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.
Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week returns to the Sisters of St. Joseph Archive in Rochester, NY to highlight the papers of Rev William H Shannon (1917-2012), founding president of the International Thomas Merton Society and professor at Nazareth College, Rochester.
Guide to Catholic Records About Native Americans in the United States, Special Collections and University Archive, Marquette University
Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week documents the long and complicated relationship of Native Americans and the Catholic Church. An excellent starting point: the Special Collections and University Archive at Marquette University.
This week’s Hidden Catholic Collection is the library of Thomas Merton (1915-1968). The Merton Center at Bellarmine University has been scanning and making available online the marginalia within Merton’s books.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood, founded in 1834 by Mother Maria Anna Brunner, are an active apostolic congregation ministering to the needs of the times.
Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week reveals the extensive Sisters of the Holy Family Collection at Santa Clara University Archives & Special Collections. The Order was founded by Sr. Elizabeth Dolores Armer (1850-1905) to provide home and child care services, catechism instruction, and social services for underprivileged communities.
Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week is the papers of the Santa Maria Institute, a ground-breaking Catholic social service center founded by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati to help immigrants to the Queen City.
Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week shares the papers of Sr Mary Ignatia Gavin (1889-1966), Sister of Charity of St. Augustine (CSA), an early advocate of Alcoholics Anonymous.
This week’s Hidden Catholic Collection is the Selma, Alabama Collection in the Sisters of St. Joseph Archive in Rochester, NY. It documents the Sisters’ service in Selma from 1940 to the present including work at Good Samaritan Hospital during 1965 voting rights marches.
Our Hidden Catholic Collection this week highlights the personal papers of Marianne Reilly (1804-1895), a lay Catholic woman living in rapidly growing early 19th century Cincinnati, now held at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archives.
St. Bernard Hospital, Community, and School of Nursing Records, University Archives and Special Collections, Loyola University Chicago
This week’s HiddenCatholic Collection reminds us of the central role nuns played in early healthcare by founding of hospitals and nursing schools.
This week’s Hidden Catholic Collection is the papers of influential Catholic feminist author and educator Sally (McDevitt) Cunneen held at the Marian Library at the University of Dayton archives.
This week’s Hidden Catholic Collection is the digitized Moses Linton album at the Jesuit Archives & Research Center, providing a trove of information about nineteenth century Indigenous and European experience of Catholicism.
First up in our series is the Knights of Lithuania records, held by U.S. Catholic Special Collections at the University of Dayton.