The Catholic Archives Society: Preserving the Nation’s Catholic Heritage

The CAS have been liaising with the Religion and Collections group as we have mutual interests so please give their blog a follow! We were welcomed to post a summary about the CAS on their site which you can view below. They would welcome further blogs on religious material culture if there is anything in your collections you would like to write about #catholicheritage #materialculture #religionandcollections

Religion & Collections

Archives, libraries and heritage collections of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and Ireland have often been seen as mysterious and inaccessible to the general public. In recent years, the academic focus on British Catholic History through John Bossy, Eamon Duffy and Alexandra Walsham has highlighted the significance of Catholicism to the history of Britain and subsequently shed-light on the understudied nature of Catholic heritage collections.

Since 1979, the Catholic Archives Society has promoted the care of Roman Catholic archives and collections in Britain and Ireland. Established as a voluntary organisation, the Society acts as a forum for all individuals, professional and voluntary, who are custodians of Catholic material. Increasingly, Catholic institutions have been making their archives and libraries accessible for research by establishing reading rooms and forming online catalogues. Some have also created exhibition spaces for Catholic material culture including the Bar Convent (York), Stonyhurst College (Clitheroe), Ushaw Historic…

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Archive Update: The Irish Jesuit Archives

The Irish Jesuit Archives was closed for much of 2020 due to the global pandemic, and with Ireland in lockdown since early 2021, there is no sign of reopening anytime soon. So what has this home working archivist been up to?

The positive experience of collaborating with Offaly Archives, in making available a collection of papers via their archival platform, gave impetus to the decision to catalogue the Irish Jesuit Archives online. In 2020, using the open source cataloguing software AtoM, a skeleton for the catalogue consisting of authority records (linking people, places and subjects) was created. Fr Jim Culliton SJ helped with Jesuit research, which has also led to a digital biographical dictionary for Irish Jesuits. 5,000 descriptions (roughly 5% of the archival footprint) are now catalogued online, including:

  • Irish Jesuit Colleges in Europe;
  • Irish Jesuit Missions: Australia (1865-1930), the Isle of Man (1826-37) and Zambia (1946-1969);
  • Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the First World War and Second World War;
  • Coláiste Iognáid, Galway (1859-1958) and
  • Twenty individual Jesuits papers.

Damien Burke

Province Archivist- Irish Jesuit Archives

Letter from Irish Jesuit Michael Morrison to his Provincial John R MacMahon SJ, Dublin, Ireland, describing his work as a chaplain at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, 18 April 1945.

Photograph of Fr Tom O’Brien SJ (1932-1992) and the Canisius College football team, Chikuni, Northern Rhodesia, c.[1959].

The Centre for Catholic Studies’ Book Launch Series 2020-21

Starting out with ‘English Convents in Catholic Europe,
c.1600-1800′ Co-hosted by the Durham University Centre for Catholic Studies and Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies Wednesday 7 October 2020 5.30-6.45pm BST, by Zoom.

To register for zoom and get full details of the book launch series see the CCS website:

Resources for reopening Archives

The ‘Re-opening The National Archives’ webinar, which was streamed live last week, is now online:

This webinar provides information for colleagues in the archive sector on The National Archives’ own approach to re-opening.

Each archive service needs to be guided by their own circumstances in relation to re-opening; in order to help with this, please do have a look at our webpages on ‘Making Plans for Re-opening’ for high level principles, information on re-opening in relation to being a place of deposit and/or an accredited archive service, and resources including a planning for re-opening checklist and risk management template.

CAS Council updated

At a recent Council meeting Jonathan Bush was elected as new Chair of the Catholic Archives Society. He thanked his predecessor, Judith Smeaton, for all her efforts and hard work.

As several Council members’ terms had ended, three new members were co-opted. They are Claire Marsland, Naomi Johnson and Jenny Smith.

The full Council list is now as follows:


Chair: Johnathan Bush

Vice Chair: currently vacant

Treasurer: Jim Hughes

Secretary: Karen O’Connor

Council members

Annaig Boyer

Judith Smeaton

Lawrence Gregory

Claire Marsland (co-opted)

Naomi Johnson (co-opted)

Jenny Smith (co-opted)