Archives

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Overview of the Collection

The following is a brief overview. Consult the Guide to the Archives for a more detailed description of the holdings. Access restrictions may apply to any of the Collections.

RECORDS OF THE BISHOPS AND ARCHBISHOPS

  • BISHOPS JOURNALS: 1825-1902. 6 Volumes.
    Begun by Bishop Benedict J. Fenwick, (1825-1846): very complete and informative, describing daily activities of the bishop. Bishop John B. Fitzpatrick, (1846-1866): less detailed because of bishop's illness: includes entries by Reverend James A. Healy, chancellor. Archbishop John J. Williams, (1866-1907): continued the practice of journal keeping, but by 1871, the journal had become a scrapbook. Typescript copy; indices of personal and place names available for use in the Archives. 
  • EPISCOPAL REGISTER: 1810-1972. 8 Volumes.
    Official records of episcopal functions and sacramental activity, particularly confirmations and ordinations. Begun by the first Bishop of Boston, Bishop Cheverus and maintained by his successors. Under Archbishop Williams the Register includes more detailed entries than the Journal.
  • RECORDS OF THE BISHOPS AND ARCHBISHOPS: 1797- present.
    Records of the Bishops and Archbishops of Boston and of several of the auxiliary bishops. records consist of correspondence, subject files and other records relating to the pastoral and administrative functions of the bishops and archbishops.

RECORDS OF PARISHES

  • SACRAMENTAL REGISTERS: 1789-1997.
    Baptismal and marriage records from about 175 of 395 parishes in the Archdiocese; first communion, confirmation and death records from only a few parishes. ALL RECORDS AFTER 1930 ARE CLOSED TO RESEARCH.
  • PARISH RECORDS: 1800-Present.
    Pulpit announcement books, bulletins, account books, correspondence and other material from about 70 parishes.
  • PUBLICATIONS
    Parish histories and other anniversary or special event material; not a complete set.
  • CEMETERY RECORDS: 1819-1967. 70 Volumes.
    Records of thirteen parochial and archdiocesan cemeteries, consisting primarily of lot sales and burial records.

CHANCELLOR'S OFFICE - PARISH RECORDS

  • PARISH CORRESPONDENCE FILES: 1907-Present.
    Parish activities, devotions, expenditures, buildings, schools.
  • PARISH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES: 1907-Present
    Canonical documents, information regarding establishment of parishes, parish boundaries. ·
  • CENSUS RECORDS: 1908-1980.
    Statistical records of parishioners, administration of sacraments, parochial & religion school enrollments, property valuation.
  • PARISH REPORTS: 1856-1873.
    Annual statistical and narrative reports on sacraments.

CHANCELLOR'S OFFICE - SUBJECT FILES

  • MISCELLANEOUS FILE: 1900-1981, 50 cubic feet.
    First gathered and arranged in the mid-1940s, the files contain random subject material about agencies and events. There is a card index available for use in the archives.
  • HISTORICAL MANUSCRIPTS: 1774-1907. 3 cubic feet.
    Approximately 1000 manuscripts were gathered from many sources and relate to topics of 19th century history. An index is available for use in the Archives.

CHANCELLOR'S OFFICE - ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS

  • CHANCERY CIRCULARS: 1855-Present
    Administrative matters, prayers, devotional practices, parish contributions to annual collections.
  • DEEDS: 1789-Present.
    Deeds to land for parish property including churches, rectories, schools, convents.

PARISH & INSTITUTIONAL SERVICES/ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT

  • BLUEPRINTS: 1900-Present.
    Architectural drawings and blueprints for churches, schools, rectories, convents. Holdings are more complete for post World War II buildings.
  • SITE PLANS: 1900-Present.
    Size and shape of parish property. 
  • BUILDING SPECIFICATIONS: 1900-Present.
    Construction specifications, as with drawings, more complete for post-World War II.

AUDIOVISUAL MATERIAL

  • PHOTOGRAPHS
    A collection of photographs of churches, schools, other buildings, events, and some portrait photographs. Not all parishes are represented, nor is the collection in any way comprehensive. A card index is available.
  • MOTION PICTURES/VIDEOTAPES
    A collection of films and videotapes relating to events and programs held within the Archdiocese or involving Archdiocesan clergy or lay personnel. Collection has received only rudimentary cataloguing, the number of films and tapes is unknown. Many of the films are in poor condition.
  • AUDIOTAPES
    Several audio tapes and recordings of various subjects. Listing in Archives.

PRINTED SOURCES

  • OFFICIAL CATHOLIC DIRECTORY (Title Varies): 1833-Present.
    Annual listing of each diocese and each parish.
  • CATHOLIC DIRECTORY OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON (Title Varies) 1948-Present.
    Similar listings as in national directory.
  • GUIDE TO THE ARCHIVES OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON, by James M. O' Toole (New York, 1982).
    Detailed listing of holdings of the Archives, not all are available for research.
  • THE PILOT (Title Varies) 1829-Present.
    The archdiocesan newspaper. Available on microfilm.
  • HISTORICAL WORKS.
    Small selection of general historical works, particular studies, and reference material on the Archdiocese, and on Catholicism