The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Archives & Records Center preserves the most important records of Catholic Chicago. Most of the material is twentieth-century, but in some collections the records are older. The holdings of the Archives & Records Center are vast and in some cases, unprocessed. Unprocessed collections are not open to research.
Chancery and Bishops' Collections
The personal papers, archdiocesan business records, and photograph collections of Cardinals Mundelein, Stritch, Meyer, Cody, as well as smaller collections for Archbishops Feehan and Quigley, and Bishops Duggan and Foley, are all processed and available to researchers. The public writings and photographs of Cardinal Bernardin are also processed. Bishop William Quarter’s diary (finished by Bishop Van de Velde) is available on microfilm and in hard copy. Personal and business papers are also available for Bishop Bernard J. Sheil, William J. Onahan, Rev. David C. Fulmer (Superintendent of the Archdiocesan School Board), Bishop Peter J. Muldoon (Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, Bishop of Rockford), and Msgr. Charles N. Meter (Secretary of the Commission for Sacred Music, President of the American Federation of Pueri Cantores, and director of several diocesan choirs). Files from bishops, chancellors, vicars general, and other decision-makers within the Archdiocese can also be found in the Madaj Collection (1675-1928) or the Chancery Correspondence Files (1929-1958). The business records of Cardinal Bernardin's will be open to researchers in 2021, and Cardinal George's will be open in 2040 - 25 years after their respective deaths.
Parish and School Collections
Pre-1916 sacramental registers for all parishes (open and closed) are available to researchers on microfilm. However, the Archives only actively collects records from closed parishes and schools. When a parish or school closes, the Archives may receive parish bulletins, liturgy files, program booklets, photographs, yearbooks, handbooks, newsletters, minutes from parish- or school-run organizations, or other historically significant material, all of which are open to researchers. The Archives houses commemorative books for parishes (open and closed) celebrating milestones like anniversaries or building dedications. Parish Annual Reports from 1868-1982 are also available to researchers.
Archdiocesan Agency Collections
The Archives and Records Center is also the repository for the inactive records and archival collections of archdiocesan agencies, programs, and organizations. Processed collections include the organizational papers for the Poor Clares, Pueri Cantores, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Catholic Action Federation. Photography collections from the office of The New World and the Catholic Youth Organization offer images that document life within the Archdiocese from the early 20th century through the 1980s. Other collections include liturgical and devotional materials; minutes from the Archdiocesan School Board; Angel Guardian Orphanage papers; Archdiocesan newspapers on microfilm (Western Tablet, 1852-1854; Western Catholic, 1869-1887; New World, a.k.a. the Chicago Catholic, 1892-present); and architectural drawings. The holdings encompass many formats of records such as maps, plans, photographs, paintings, films, sound recordings, video recordings, but it consists primarily of paper records. The Archives also houses the oral history projects for Rev. Steve Avella and Michael Hartnett.