The following policies have been adopted by the Associated Sulpicians of the United States to provide researchers with a statement on the procedures regarding access to and use of their records.
Drawing upon the guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists regarding the use of ecclesiastical archives, the Associated Sulpicians of the United States opens their archives to all qualified researchers. In trying to balance the principles of both the right to know and confidentiality, we believe the access policies that have been adopted reflect a sensitivity to both the interests of the researcher and the Province. Every effort is made to open Province records for research as expeditiously as possible. Province policy requires that some of these records be closed to researchers for varying lengths of time.
Placing restrictions on the research use of records for specified lengths of time is a standard archival procedure. While the Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary & University is responsible for administering the records restriction policy, the policy itself is determined by the administrators of the Associated Sulpicians of the United States who produce and use the records in the course of their activities. Restrictions are placed on the use of records in order to protect the privacy rights of individuals and institutions. Restrictions of reasonable length facilitate research by ensuring the survival and completeness of the historical record.
Authorized personnel from the offices of the Associated Sulpician offices may request records that their office created at any time with an Office of Origin request. See the section concerning the office of origin retrieval process for more information.
All records transferred to the Archives are stored under secure conditions and in a controlled environment. Access to the area where the records are stored is restricted to Archives staff members and authorized personnel. Removal of records from the Archives is prohibited unless authorized by the Archivist.
With the exception of materials noted below, records in the Archives of the Associated Sulpicians of the United States that are more than 35 years old are open to qualified researchers. Archival records are made available in accordance with the rules of the Associated Sulpicians of the United States governing the use of its records.
Records of the Provincial Superior and Provincial Council are closed to research use for 75 years beginning on the date on which the Provincial Superior leaves office; the restriction applies to the entire body of records created during the Provincial Superior’s tenure. Accessions of records documenting the activities and functions of other Provincial offices are opened for research 35 years after the latest inclusive date of each accession.
Records of members of the Society of St. Sulpice that have been donated to the Archives of the Associated Sulpicians of the United States are closed to research use for 35 years after the death of that person, unless otherwise specified.
Categories of Records
The Access policy is based on a three-part categorization of the records series: open, restricted, or confidential.
Publications, photographs, other records created for public dissemination, and records designated as historical in nature are available for researchers to work with without restriction. Records more than 35 years old from the “Restricted” series are treated as open for purposes of access.
Records of Provincial offices not listed below are closed for 35 years. Researchers may appeal to gain access to restricted records. Access is granted only after the Director of the Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary & University has received written notice of permission from the Provincial Superior or his authorized representative specifying exactly which folders and boxes the user can examine. Records that are closed longer than 35 years are subject to the same policies.
Records containing sensitive files for which access is granted only after the Provincial Superior physically reviews the files and provides written permission.
Categories of Records Closed Longer than 35 Years
Exceptions to the 35-year restriction policy include:
- Records of Provincial Superior are closed for 75 years beginning on the date on which the Superior leaves office
- Minutes of the Provincial Council and supporting documentation are closed for 75 years beginning on the date on which the Provincial Superior leaves office
- Records of Provincial Consultors are are closed for 75 years beginning on the date on which the Superior leaves office
- Records that contain personal information about an individual or individuals are closed for 75 years from the death of the individuals mentioned in the records. These may include, for example, student academic records and personnel files.
When necessary, records older than 35 years old may be closed to research use if they have not been reviewed and processed sufficiently to ensure their preservation and to identify any records that may require closure for longer than the stated duration.
Use of Records in Connection with Cases at Law or Legal Proceedings
Requests for permission to examine any Provincial records in connection with cases at law or legal proceedings of any kind, including any documents relating to personnel matters handled by the Province’s legal counsel and regardless of categorization under the records series detailed above, will be referred to the Provincial Superior.
Appeals to gain access to restricted records
Appeals to gain access to restricted records shall be conducted in the following manner:
1) researchers seeking access to restricted records are required to complete a Restricted Records Access Request form
2) each request will be reviewed by the Director and the Provincial Superior or his authorized representative.
3) decisions will based on the merits of each case, weighing the needs of scholarship against the privacy rights of individuals and the legal interests of the Province; the Director and the Provincial Superior or his authorized representative must be satisfied that research seeking access to restricted records has demonstrated that the records are required to carry out a legitimate scholarly research project or for other appropriate use; in all cases, the decision of the Director and the Provincial Superior or his authorized representative shall be fair and reasonable, permitting the greatest possible access, given the limitations imposed by legal and ethical considerations.
4) in order to come to such a decision, the Director and the Provincial Superior or his authorized representative shall meet, review the research proposal of the scholar petitioning for access, examine the materials to which which he or she is requesting access and discuss the case; in cases where the materials are voluminous, the Director shall review them and summarize their nature and content for the Provincial Superior or his authorized representative, presenting individual documents of particular concern; in cases of requests for innocuous materials, a less formal review process may be invoked, consisting of a telephone call by the Director
5) decisions made by the Director and the Provincial Superior or his authorized representative shall be final.