Manuscript Collections

The Archives’ manuscript collections include all materials that are not otherwise classified as official University records. This includes the personal papers of individuals associated with Notre Dame, but the bulk of the manuscript collections consist of records documenting the American Catholic experience. Notre Dame librarian James Edwards began collecting historical Catholic manuscripts in the nineteenth century and acquired papers from the bishops of Baltimore, Bardstown-Louisville, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, New Orleans, Vincennes-Indianapolis and many other sees. For more information about Edwards and the history of the Archives, please visit History of the Archives.

In the twentieth century the Archives continued to collect the papers of bishops, including the leaders of the local Diocese of Fort Wayne, especially the founder of Our Sunday Visitor, John Francis Noll; Midwestern bishops including John F. Dearden, Thomas Gumbleton, Kenneth Untener, George Fulcher, and Daniel Pilarczyk; and Holy Cross bishops John Francis O'Hara and Marcos McGrath, and other prominent bishops including Paul Boyle, C.P., Raymond Hunthausen, and Robert Emett Lucey.

For Catholics, the twentieth century falls naturally into two parts - before and after the Second Vatican Council. The papers of Cardinal Dearden, Archbishop McGrath, and James Norris document the Council itself. However, many of the Archives’ other twentieth century collections show the development of ideas that came to fruition in Vatican II.

In order to document the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, the University Archives collects historical material including personal papers, institutional records, manuscripts, microfilm, printed material, photographs, audio-visual material, and digital records from the following areas of interest:

Catholic Press and Publishing
Catholic Higher Education
Catholic Social Action
Catholic Laity

Catholic Clergy
Religious Orders
Charismatic Renewal
Liturgical Movement

Most of the Archives' nineteenth-century manuscript collections, including those described in detail in the calendar, are open for use by researchers. However, most of the twentieth-century collections came to the University Archives from donors with whom we have contracts that may restrict access. Also, the Archives does store some of these collections offsite. If you plan to visit the Archives to do research in the manuscript collections, please contact us in advance so our staff can make sure that the material you want is open for use.

This page was last updated November 6, 2023