Collection Development Statement

The Archives & Records Management Office (A&RM) of the Diocese of St. Augustine was established as a private, institutional collection in accordance with Canon 491. The collection preserves permanent records and artifacts of its people, institutions, and associations, representing the heritage of the local Church for more than four centuries. The A&RM primarily collects materials created by decisions and actions of Diocesan administration, parishes, schools, and other Diocesan institutions. It also includes a limited secondary collection of documents and artifacts from Catholic culture in North Florida. 

Donations to the A&RM are accepted when they are consistent with the Collections Development Statement and in accompaniment with a Deed of Gift form. The Director of A&RM may choose not to accept donations that are outside the scope of the Collection Development Statement, are in poor condition, and/or are duplicates collections already held. 

Donations to the Museum of the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios Y Buen Parto are also managed by the A&RM. Please contact the Director of the Archives & Records Management Office for more details (klockard@dosafl.com).

Collection Guide

A&RM staff are working to more comprehensively describe and catalog collections, so that they will be searchable online. Once a collection has been catalogued, it is opened for research.  A generic description of each collection is listed below. Those with finding aids are available for research.

Manuscript Collection: Administrative Records of the Diocese of St. Augustine

A majority of the manuscript collection holdings is the administrative records of the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine. These are open 50 years after the death of the Bishop and once they have been processed by A&RM staff. Records span from before the time of our first bishop, Augustin Vérot in early 19th century, through our Bishop Emeritus, Most Rev. Felipe de Jesus Estévez. The bulk of the collection is from 1940 through 1967, the twenty-seven-year administration of Archbishop Joseph Patrick Hurley. 

A&RM staff currently are working on a project to more comprehensively describe and catalog Diocesan Administration collections using basic archives content standards. Most of the those are currently closed so that staff may work on this project. As collection descriptions are updated and an interim finding aid produced, collections falling outside the 50-year closure rule will be reopened to the public.

The following is a list of collections that are currently open for research:

Manuscript Collection: Parish Records of the Diocese of St. Augustine

The Parish Records Collections contain some of the Dioceses’ earliest documents. Dating back to 1594, the oldest sacramental records in the country are held in these. Sacramental registers make up the bulk of our Parish Collection as, at one time, other parish documents were mixed in with each Bishop’s administration records based on the date they were produced. Collections are grouped by parish, beginning with St. Augustine’s Parish Church (which predates the Cathedral Basilica). While sacramental registers are not open to the public for examination to preserve the books, St. Augustine’s Parish Registers from 1594 through 1821 have been digitized and are available online (see Digitized Sacramental Records Available Online below). 

Registers older than 100 years are generally open to the public for information requests. Please see the Sacramental Information for Genealogy Purposes section of the Sacramental Records Request tab for more information.

Digitized Sacramental Records Available Online

In 2012, the Diocese of St. Augustine collaborated with Dr. J. Michael Francis and the University of South Florida to digitize our earliest Parish Registers which date from 1594 – 1821. Until 1735, St. Augustine’s parish priests recorded people of all backgrounds in the same sacramental books. Most of the archive’s handwritten documents are in Spanish, with several hundred pages of its sacramental entries recorded in Latin, as well as some nineteenth-century English.  

As of November 2022, those sacraments are available online through La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archives of the Americas as the Lost Voices project. Click on the “Enter the Virtual Archive” button to browse or search all 8,258 pages of transcribed, translated, and indexed sacramental information for 1594 through the mid-19th century. Low resolution images may also be found through the Slave Societies Digital Archives, directed by Dr. Jane Landers and hosted by Vanderbilt University. 

Images may be used for personal research or educational purposes with the credit line, “Image courtesy of the Diocese of St. Augustine and La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archives of the Americas” or “Image courtesy of the Diocese of St. Augustine and the Slave Societies Digital Archives.” For publication permissions, please contact the Diocese of St. Augustine Archives & Records Management Office (klockard@dosafl.com).

Rare Books Collection

Around 2010, approximately boxes of rare books were transferred from the Cathedral Basilica to the Archives for permanent retention. Some volumes dated back to the 16th century, though the bulk were published in the 18th and 19th century. Those books, along with others found in Diocesan Administration Collections are grouped by their owner or collection from which they were separated. A significant number of Rites and Ceremony texts were transferred from the Cathedral Basilica and are organized as part of the Liturgical and Devotional Collection. These are open for public research and use.

Reference Library

Since 2010, the Archives has built up a reference library to support research on the primary source collection in its holdings with a focus on Spanish Colonial and Florida history. The reference library is open to the public by appointment and is non-borrowing. Authors include Dr. Michael Gannon, John Gilmary Shea, and other prominent Florida historians.