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The University Archives’ microfilm collections include both University records and manuscript collections.  Access to University records on microfilm is governed by the same restrictions that apply to all other media as per the Access Policy.  The primary purpose of microfilm copies of University records is to serve the administration of the University of Notre Dame, rather than to foster historical research.  However, manuscript collections on microfilm are generally open for use by researchers. 

The University Archives does not lend microfilm out for research.  Instead, researchers must visit the Archives to use it or request prints from home.  Photocopies of microfilm can be made for $1.00 per page.  However, the Archives often holds the archival copy of microfilm owned by the University of Notre Dame Libraries, and you may be able to borrow the libraries’ microfilm through Interlibrary Loan. Many other libraries have purchased copies of the publications listed below, so you may find a copy closer to home. 

The Archives has produced microfilm editions of some of its manuscript collections, generally with the help of funding from the National Historical Publications and Research Commission (NHPRC).  These microfilm reels are available for purchase by researchers, and are also available in many libraries across the country:

Orestes A. Brownson Papers (19 reels, silver halide, $1450)
Thomas Ewing Papers (6 reels, silver halide, $510)
William T. Sherman Papers (15 reels, silver halide, $1275)
Records of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Florida’s (12 reels, silver halide, $1020)

The Archives also sells microfilm editions of several sports periodicals. While these newspapers highlight baseball and are considered essential resources for historical baseball research, many also report on other sports and recreational activities of their era.  Click on the link to see the fees for these periodicals:

19th-century Sports Newspapers
The Sporting News 1886-1917
The Sporting News 1916-1980
The Sporting Life 1883-1917

Other microfilm holdings in the Archives include manuscript collections, many newspapers, and back issues of the Official Catholic Directory.  The per reel charges for microfilm are below:

$70 for 16mm silver halide
$85 for 35mm silver halide

Individual reels of any of these publications are available for $85 (35 mm silver halide). There is a $10 shipping and handling charge for orders of four reels or fewer. Orders of fifteen reels or more receive a ten percent discount.

If you are interested in purchasing duplicates of any of the microfilm holdings, please contact us for details about availability, number of reels, reel size, polarity, etc.


History of the Microfilm Collection

Fr. Thomas McAvoy, C.S.C., University Archivist from 1931 to 1969, was instrumental in expanding the Archives’ manuscript collections on microfilm, which primarily consist of records relating to Catholic subjects.  Most importantly, Fr. McAvoy had microfilm made from the archives of the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, the Vatican office in charge of missionary work.  An employee of the University Archives lived in Rome and microfilmed documents having to do with the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, which was classified as mission territory until 1908.  Between 1966 and 2002 the Academy of American Franciscan History published “United States Documents in the Propaganda Fide Archives,” a calendar in twelve volumes covering 1673 to 1892.  In general, our microfilm contains documents described in these volumes.  The Archives also has microfilm covering documents dating after 1892, for which a finding aid is available on this website.

Fr. McAvoy was also responsible for the acquisition of microfilm from European mission societies, who collected money to support missionary work worldwide.  The Archives’ records of their efforts in the United States provide a valuable picture of missionary activities here, since bishops and priests prescribed their activities and needs when they appealed for support from Europe.  The University Archives holds microfilm from the French Society for the Propagation of Faith (Paris and Lyons), from the German Ludwigs-Verein, and from the Austrian Leopold Society.  Other significant manuscript collections on microfilm include records of the Diocese of Richmond, the Sisters of Loretto, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky, and of various Catholic parishes and institutions.  The Archives also has many microfilm collections of printed material including Catholic newspapers, magazines, parish histories, books, pamphlets, and ephemera.

These collections exist in the Archives’ holdings only on microfilm, making it possible for American scholars to have convenient access to faraway records.  The Archives also holds microfilm copies of its own manuscript and printed collections, which serve as both a method of preservation and publishing.  If a book should perish in a fire, it is likely that one would be able to find a copy in another library; but if an unpublished manuscript burns, it is lost forever.  Microfilm made for preservation purposes can provide insurance against this type of loss and can also extend the life of the printed manuscripts by making it possible to study images of the material without handling the manuscripts themselves.




This page was last updated August 15, 2016