The Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center collects printed materials, manuscript collections, and audiovisual materials relating to the history of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. These materials include the records of numerous Archdiocesan offices, the official correspondence of all of the bishops and archbishops of Philadelphia up to the present, as well as records from significant events within the Archdiocese’s history, including the 41st International Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia in 1976 and Pope John Paul II’s visit in October 1979. Archdiocesan records also include the sacramental registers of those parishes located within the present Archdiocese since their founding.

PAHRC also houses the collections of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, as well as some records from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. ACHS records include printed, visual, and ephemeral materials that document institutions, associations, societies, religious orders, and parishes located within the Archdiocese as well as those of other dioceses located in the Mid-Atlantic region. The ACHS collection also includes 19th and 20th- century Catholic newspapers, journals, and pamphlets published throughout the United States, as well as the manuscripts of prominent Catholic clergy and laity. Other published materials in the collection include catechisms, devotional works, liturgical books, and sacred music.

PAHRC’s image collection contains photographs and other visual materials documenting Catholic clergy, laity, and institutions of the Archdiocese. Two notable collections include the Packard and Butler lithograph collection as well as the Robert and Theresa Halvey Photograph Collection. The latter collection includes 100,000 photographs (including negatives) that Robert Halvey took for the Catholic Standard & Times, the official Archdiocesan newspaper, from 1935 to 1999 as well as photographs for Catholic institutions that Halvey took as a freelance photographer.

The Museum is largely comprised of Catholic artifacts, and includes the Cardinal Krol Memorabilia collection and the Museum of Religious Americana. The latter collection contains about 400 items of Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish origin.

In order to support study of the collections, PAHRC maintains a library with both reference and research materials, including Archdiocesan and National Catholic directories, Philadelphia City directories, and encyclopedias. Secondary sources include scholarship relating to the history of Catholicism in the United States as well as social and cultural histories of the various ethnic groups that shaped the American Catholic Church.

Partnerships with local institutions:

PAHRC recently formed a partnership with the Digital Library @ Villanova University. Falvey Library is currently in the process of digitizing materials from our collection, the majority of which relate to Irish American history. Most notable is our entire collection of Redpath’s Weekly Journal, the Fenian Brotherhood papers and materials relating to the Molly Maguires, the Nativist Riots of 1844 and the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union. PAHRC materials at the Digital Library @ Villanova University can be found here.