Archdiocese of Baltimore Archives
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. Please click on the appropriate series name for more information:
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.
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 (d. 2017), and Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien (transferred 2011) are closed. Please click here to see a more detailed description of the collection.
The papers of the following Archbishops of Baltimore have been microfilmed: John Carroll, Leonard Neale, S.J., Ambrose Maréchal, P.S.S., James Whitfield, Samuel Eccleston, P.S.S., 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.
The artifact collection is limited to a small collection of commemorative items and sacred objects.
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.
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. Contains handwritten reports and printed questionnaires concerning parish operations, including information on and statistics for parish population, sacraments, finances, and organizations. 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.
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. The Catholic University of America, 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.
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.
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: 96 records storage boxes; date span: c. 1925-2000.
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 include negatives, slides, and prints that range in size from wallet-size to 8 x 10. The newspaper maintains all images created in digital format.
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 and the Official Catholic Directory. The Archives maintains subscriptions to the following journals: Maryland Historical Magazine and Maryland Genealogical Society.
This website has a page dedicated to Genealogy, where one can find information on the sacramental and cemetery records that have survived for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where to locate records for parishes in the Maryland counties included in the boundaries of the Diocese of Wilmington and Archdiocese of Washington, DC, resources created and compiled to assist genealogists in researching their Maryland Catholic roots, services provided by the Archives, and policies on access and how to submit a request for research and foreign citizenship.
Sacramental Registers. Efforts to microfilm and digitize the sacramental registers of the parishes that comprise the Archdiocese of Baltimore have been undertaken three times in the past 75 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 Center for History and Culture also has the microfilm for a number of parishes in its holdings.
In 2018, the Archdiocese of Baltimore initiated a project to digitize its sacramental registers in a public/private partnership with the leading family history website FindMyPast. Individuals interested in the records of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will be able to browse them for free on the Catholic Heritage Archive website. To learn more about the project as well as how to access the records, please see the Genealogy page.
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 Center for History and Culture. New Cathedral Cemetery also has a searchable burial database available on its website.