Collections Overview

Page 83, Bishop Francis Ridgley Cotton Scrapbook, 1905-1919. Collection of Diocese of Owensboro Archives.

Our collections trace events, activities, and decisions that have shaped the Diocese of Owensboro and the growth of the Catholic faith in Kentucky. The oldest materials in the archives date back to the early 1800s when the first Catholic pioneers came to settle in western Kentucky and missionary priests traveled the region on horseback, building churches, forming congregations, and visiting isolated Catholic families. Most of our records were created after the establishment of the Diocese of Owensboro in December 1937 and the installation of Francis Ridgley Cotton as first Bishop of the Diocese in February 1938. These records provide us with a window to the past, helping us to understand the Diocese’s organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, and activities. Other materials preserved and protected in the archives document Catholic parishes, missions, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and organizations in the Diocese, serving as valuable sources of information for historical research.   

In addition to administrative and historical records, the Archives holds an assortment of personal papers, photographs, correspondence, diaries and journals, architectural drawings, maps, memorabilia, newspapers and newsletters, books, news clippings, scrapbooks, artifacts, and audiovisual materials. These materials include the Western Kentucky Catholic photograph collection, books on the family histories of Catholic families who migrated to Kentucky from Maryland, and records of Catholic cemeteries in the Diocese. We also maintain a small collection of sacramental registers from (mostly closed) parishes and missions located within the boundaries of the present diocese.