Archdiocese of Baltimore Archives

Collection Description

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This collection documents the founding, growth, and development of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. The records date from the creation of the Archdiocese in 1789. The records in this collection are made up of several types and formats including documentary (paper), photographic, microfilm, and audio/visual. There is also a small collection of artifacts and artwork, including paintings and relics. The documentary holdings include records such as correspondence, official and legal documents, registers, publications, sermons, and diaries. The photographic holdings include color and B&W prints, slides, and negatives, as well as albums and scrapbooks. The audio/visual collection has audiocassettes, 16mm film, and videotapes. The microfilm holdings include parish sacramental records, the Archbishops’ papers, and the Archdiocesan newspapers.

For information on the history of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, see Thomas Spalding’s The Premier See: A History of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 1789-1989 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989) or visit the website of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Researchers are able to access open collections through the existing card catalog system and typed finding aids and are arranged according to the record series listed below. Please see the Collection Access Policy for information on the procedures regarding access to and use of the records. The holdings are arranged according to the following record series:

Archbishops Microfilm
Artifacts Parish History
Auxiliary Bishops Photographs
Chancery Reference Library

Individuals who need assistance in requesting an official copy of a sacramental certificate or a student record should consult the Reference & Research page for information. Individuals interested in the family history resources available in the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s collection should consult the Genealogy page.

Archbishops

The archdiocese has had sixteen Archbishops over the course of its history. Researchers are currently able to access the papers of the first archbishop, John Carroll (d. 1815), through the eleventh archbishop, Francis P. Keough (d. 1961). The papers of Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan (d. 1984), Abp. William D. Borders (d. 2010), Cardinal William H. Keeler (ret. 2007), and Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien (transferred 2011) are closed. Please click here to see a more detailed description of the collection.

Artifacts

The artifact collection is limited to a small collection of commemorative items and sacred objects.

Auxiliary Bishops

The archdiocese has had fifteen auxiliary bishops over the course of its history. Researchers are currently able to access the papers of the first auxiliary bishop, Owen B. Corrigan (d. 1929), through the third auxiliary bishop, Jerome D. Sebastian (d. 1960). The papers of Bp. Thomas Mardaga (d. 1984), Bp. T. Austin Murphy (d. 1991), and Bp. P. Francis Murphy (d. 1999) are closed. Please click here to see a more detailed description of the collection.

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Chancery

Records of the Chancery. Size: 159 document cases, 122 records storage boxes, and 1 scrapbook; date range: c. 1886-2000. This collection is divided into the following series: 

Correspondence and Subject Files of the Chancellors of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 1922-1990, 157 document cases; 55 records storage boxes, and 1 scrapbook. Contains incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Chancellor’s office together with subject files. Correspondence arranged alpha-chron in order of succession, except for the files of Rev. Joseph Nelligan (1935-1948), whose correspondence is arranged in two series: 1) alpha-chron and 2) topical. Records through 1961 are open to researchers.

Parish Notitiae (Annual Reports) Collection, 1875-2000; 21 records storage boxes; no finding aid available. Arranged alpha-chron by parish. Printed questionnaires concerning parish operations sent in to the Chancery. Contains information on and statistics for parish population, reception of sacraments, finances, and sodalities. Records through 1961 are open to researchers.

Parish Correspondence Files, c. 1898–1989; 46 records storage boxes and 2 document cases; no finding aid available. Contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence between the parishes of the archdiocese and the chancery, largely concerning administrative and financial matters. Records through 1961 are open to researchers.

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Microfilm

Archbishops’ of Baltimore Papers. The papers of the following Archbishops of Baltimore have been microfilmed: John Carroll, Leonard Neale, Ambrose Maréchal, James Whitfield, Samuel Eccleston, Francis P. Kenrick, Martin J. Spalding, and James R. Bayley. The microfilm is available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives and the University of Notre Dame.

Catholic Mirror, 1850-1908.This weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese began publication on January 5, 1850 and ended on June 13, 1908. It was also used at various points in its history as the official organ for the Dioceses of Wheeling, Richmond, Wilmington, and the Vicariate Apostolic of North Carolina. [Note: 1902 was not microfilmed; miscellaneous issues missing from other volumes.] The microfilm is available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives and the University of Notre Dame.

[NOTE: The Archdiocese did not publish a newspaper between the period of June 14, 1908 – November 25, 1913.]

Baltimore Catholic Review, 1913-1936.This weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore began publication on November 26, 1913, and ran to the issue of April 10, 1936, when its name was changed to the Catholic Review. The microfilm is available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives, the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the University of Notre Dame.

Catholic Review, 1936-. This weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese began publication on April 17, 1936. The microfilm is available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives, the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the University of Notre Dame.

Catholic Review (Washington edition), 1944-1951. A Washington edition of the Catholic Review was published for the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. (est. 1939), which had formerly been part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The microfilm is available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives.

Sacramental Registers. Efforts to microfilm the sacramental registers of the parishes that comprise the Archdiocese of Baltimore have been undertaken twice in the past fifty years. The first attempt was made in 1954 at the request of the Archbishop Francis P. Keough.* The Maryland State Archives made a second attempt beginning in 1977. A majority of the parishes participated in the first microfilming project. Less than half participated in the second, the majority of which were located in Baltimore City. Microfilm copies of the registers microfilmed by the Maryland State Archives are available for researchers to work with at the state archives and the Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. The Maryland Historical Society has the microfilm for the following parishes in its holdings: Baltimore City – Basilica of the Assumption, St. Peter’s Pro-Cathedral, Holy Cross, Immaculate Conception, Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Alphonsus, St. Ann, St. Francis Xavier, St. James the Less, St. John German, St. John the Evangelist, St. Mary Star of the Sea, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Patrick, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Stanislaus; Outside Baltimore City – Mt. St. Mary’s/St. Mary’s of the Mountain, Emmitsburg, St. Augustine, Elkridge, St. Ignatius, Hickory, St. John the Evangelist, Frederick, St. John the Evangelist, Hydes/Long Green, St. Mary of the Mills, Laurel, St. Michael, Frostburg, St. Mary of the Annunciation, Lonaconing.

The sacramental registers microfilmed by the Archdiocese are available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary & University only.

Click here to see a list of parishes that had their registers microfilmed.

*: The archdiocese made the decision to microfilm the records beginning with the year 1875, regardless of parish establishment date.

New Cathedral Cemetery Records, 1871-1977. The records for New Cathedral Cemetery consist of plot books and daily registers that are arranged chronologically and alphabetically. The microfilm is available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives and the Maryland Historical Society.

Archdiocese of Baltimore Annual Directory, 1920-1961. The archdiocese began to publish an annual directory in 1920. Information contained in the directory includes a list of Archdiocesan parishes, institutions, and organizations, as well as the names of diocesan and religious priests serving in the Archdiocese.

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Parish History

Size: 51 document cases, 5 flat storage boxes, 3 records storage boxes, and 20 registers; date span: c. 1793-present.

The Archives of the Archdiocese of Baltimore maintains a Parish History Collection that is made up of published parish histories, subject files regarding the parishes and ethnic groups represented in the archdiocese, as well as miscellaneous parish account books, pew rent books, bulletins, and registers donated to the Archives, including the records for the Basilica of the Assumption’s chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and early property deeds for St. Patrick Church, Fells Point.

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Photographs

Archdiocese of Baltimore Collection

Size: 46 document cases, 11 flat storage boxes, 5 records storage boxes, 49 scrapbooks, and 32 albums; date span: c. 1850-present.
This collection is made up principally of photographs of the Archbishops of Baltimore, including official portraits and photographs taken at official events. There is also a small number of photographs of the Archdiocese’s clergy, institutions, and parishes, as well as of historic events that have taken place in the archdiocese.
The records in this series are in both black and white and color and vary from wallet-sized images to 11 x 14 and larger. In addition to photographs, there are also slides and negatives.

Catholic Review Collection

Size: 36 records storage boxes; date span: c. 1925-1982.
This collection is made up of the photographs maintained by the Catholic Review, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, that relate to the history of the Archdiocese and are organized by subject.
The records in this series are in both black and white and color and vary from wallet-sized images to 8 x 10.

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Reference Library

The Archives maintains a reference library for the use of staff and researchers. While the majority of books are related to the history of the Archdiocese, including biographies of Archbishops and other prominent individuals, there are a number of works on state and local history and the U.S. Catholic Church in general. The library also has copies of the Archdiocese’s annual directory, the Official Catholic Directory, and the Annuario Pontificio. The Archives maintains subscriptions to the following journals: Maryland Historical Magazine and Maryland Genealogical Society.

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