About the Archives
The mission of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois Office for Archives and Records Management is to collect, organize, preserve, and provide access to records and artifacts that have historical, legal or administrative value that pertain to the operation of the diocese, its parishes, agencies, institutions and people. The Archives was established in accordance with Canon 482, which invests the chancellor with the responsibility for the archives. The Director of Archives and Records Management reports to the chancellor and is granted canonical faculties to fulfill this mandate.
The Office for Archives and Records Management is a private institutional repository, whose primary duty is to serve the bishop, curial offices and Catholic parishes. The Archives makes available and extends its materials to researchers as permitted by canon law, civil law and privacy considerations.
The Office for Archives and Records Management is the central repository for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois’ historical records. The Archives houses the records and papers of our bishops, diocesan offices, parishes, schools and cemeteries. The bulk of our collection dates from 1923, when the see was transferred from Alton to Springfield. During the transfer, the majority of diocesan records, including priest files and bishop’s papers, were lost or destroyed.
The majority of our collection consists of unique, original materials that were created in the conduct of diocesan business. These records include, but are not limited to:
- Papers and records of the Bishops of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois;
- Records of diocesan offices;
- Information on diocesan agencies, institutions, religious communities and Catholic organizations;
- Biographical information on deceased secular clergy;
- Parish financial and statistical reports, 1868-present;
- Closed parish and school records; and
- Records for St. Aloysius Orphanage, 1865-1945.
The Archives also houses secondary materials that provide information about the diocese, parishes, schools and diocesan institutions and agencies. These materials include:
- Newspapers on microfilm:
- The Western Catholic, 1908-1977
- Time & Eternity, 1977-1986
- Catholic Times, 1986-present
- National Catholic directories (such as the Official Catholic Directory), 1856-present; and
- Published parish histories and pictorial directories.
The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and the Office for Archives and Records Management are not public institutions, therefore, the records of the diocese are not public records. However, the Archives encourages as much openness and availability of its collections as possible.
The Director of Archives and Records Management has a responsibility to safeguard the confidentiality of certain records as required by state, federal and canon law. While some collections are completely closed to outside research, most are open with limited restrictions or no restrictions at all.
Some materials may be closed or restricted only for a certain period of time. These records will be made available in a scheduled manner in keeping with professionally appraised criteria and canonical requirements. However, even in a case where records are closed or restricted, the archivist can supply a researcher with basic biographical data and any published or printed materials found in the collection.
All collections of materials more recent than 25 years should be considered closed. However, some of these records could be accessed by permission of the archivist. Unprocessed records are not open for research until the archivist has reviewed the records. The condition of the material may also dictate access restrictions.
The materials in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois Archives are classified into one of three categories:
- Closed: these materials are closed to the public and can only be accessed by the bishop, the vicar general, the archivist and the person or office of origin. Some closed records will be opened to the public after a specific amount of time has passed.
- Restricted: materials, though not open to the public, may be made available with the permission of the bishop, the vicar general or the archivist.
- Open: materials which are available to the public with no restrictions.