Research Guide – Catholic Archives

About This Guide

This research guide focuses on Catholic diocesan and religious archives in North America. It describes resources available online. The guide is not comprehensive, but it is intended to be a useful place to start your research.


SAA Directory of Archival Organizations in the United States and Canada
Published by the Society of American Archivists, this directory lists national, regional, state, local, and provincial archival associations in the United States and Canada.

US Archival Repository Location Data Project
The US Archival Repository Location Data Project seeks to document all archival repositories across the United States.

Women Religious History Sources: A Digital Guide to Repositories in North America [PDF]
Published by Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious (ACWR), this directory offers scholars an update to the last comprehensive resource on the archives of women religious, Women Religious History Sources: A Guide to Repositories in the United States, edited by Evangeline Thomas, CSJ, and published in 1983. The directory will be updated by the ACWR as submissions are received.  


Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA)
The Academy of Certified Archivists, founded in 1989 at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, is an independent, nonprofit certifying organization of professional archivists.

Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious (ACWR)
Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious (ACWR) assists lay and religious archivists in the management, interpretation, and preservation of the historical record of Catholic sisters and nuns in the United States and worldwide.

Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists (ACDA)
The Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists serves the specific needs of the Roman Catholic diocesan archivist. It is committed to the active promotion of professionalism in the management of diocesan archives in North America as reflected in its work to establish an archival program in every diocese and to assist bishops and chancellors in the development of such programs.

Catholic Archives Society
The Catholic Archives Society is a voluntary organization founded in 1979 to promote the care of the archives of the Roman Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

International Council on Archives (ICA)
The ICA is a neutral, non-governmental organization that unites archival institutions and practitioners across the globe to advocate for good archival management and the physical protection of recorded heritage, to produce reputable standards and best practices, and to encourage dialogue, exchange, and transmission of this knowledge and expertise across national borders.

Society of American Archivists (SAA)
Founded in 1936, the Society of American Archivists is North America’s oldest and largest national professional association dedicated to the needs and interests of archives and archivists. SAA represents more than 6,200 professional archivists employed by governments, universities, businesses, libraries, and historical organizations.

Archivists of Religious Collections Section
The Archivists of Religious Collections Section is a group of professional archivists who work for national, international, and local Church organizations, religious societies and orders, and theological schools. ARCS members document the many sides of the faith experience. ARCS members represent large and small repositories and a cross-section of the diverse North American community of practice.

Lone Arrangers Section
The mission of the Lone Arrangers Section is to provide education, stimulate communication, and encourage support between archivists working in “lone arranger” settings. The term “lone arranger” includes those working alone or in very small staff situations.


Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists (ACDA) Newsletter
The ACDA newsletter is published twice each year. Archived copies are located as PDFs on the ACDA website.

Colleen Hoelscher. “Online Access to American Diocesan Archives: Current State and Lessons for Other Repositories,” Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute Faculty Presentations, 5 (2016):  

James M. O’Toole. “Catholic Diocesan Archives: A Renaissance in Progress,” The American Archivist  43, no. 3 (1980): 284-293, doi: 10.17723/aarc.43.3.q8gv80m675l32706.

Managing Diocesan Archives and Records: A Guide for Bishops, Chancellors, and Archivists.
Published by the Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists (ACDA) in 2012.