[From the June 1999 Newsletter]
by Joseph W. Coen, C.A., Archivist
Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn
The Diocese of Brooklyn Archives contains several collections of interest to genealogists and persons doing family history research. The Archives is open to the public. It is located in Douglaston at the Immaculate Conception Center, the former Cathedral College. The hours for research are 10 AM to 4 PM, by appointment only. Please call the Archivist, Joseph Coen, at (718) 229-8001 ext. 475 to schedule an appointment. There is no fee to use the Archives. If you wish to make copies, however, you will be charges ten cents a page.
Among the collections of interest are several containing files on parishes. These include some parishes in Nassau and Suffolk, which were formerly part of the Diocese of Brooklyn, as well as those in Kings and Queens counties.
The first and most general collection is the Catholic Information Center, Rev. Robert F. Hurley Collection, Diocesan History Files, 1950-1978. This series consists of newspaper clippings regarding the histories of Diocesan officials, religious communities, lay apostolates, Catholic Charities, hospitals, residences for the aged, educational institutions, and local history. The material may be useful as background history for study regarding the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The second collection is the Catholic Information Center, Rev. Robert F. Hurley Collection, Parish Files, circa 1950’s – circa 1970’s. This series is of more specific interest to genealogy and family history researchers. It consists of newspaper clippings from the diocesan newspaper, The Tablet, and the secular press regarding the parishes in Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties and concerning the neighborhoods and villages where they were located. There are scattered programs and bulletins from parishes as well. This series is rich in material on parishes and their local communities. It would be useful for getting an overview of the history of the parish and in some cases, aspects of the history of the local community. The clippings frequently feature pictures as well.
Another very fruitful collection for research is the Parish Files, Parish Journals Series, 1888-1980’s. This series contains special event commemorative journals produced by parishes in Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. The most common event commemorated is the anniversary of a parish or school. The oldest journal is from St. Paul’s, Brooklyn. These journals usually provide more detailed information about the history of the parish and more photographs, including ones of the original church, school, etc. There is often detailed information about the accomplishments of the successive pastors and, occasionally, information about where they were from. Occasionally there is information about the sisters who taught at the parish school, if there was one, or about parish organizations. The pages paid for by sponsors sometimes list names of officers and/or members of the parish organizations.
Another source of parish history information is the Msgr. John K. Sharp Collection, Parish Files, 1880’s – circa 1938. Msgr. Sharp was the author of the 1954 history of the Diocese and the first edition of Priests and Parishes of the Diocese of Brooklyn. This series consists of files on Brooklyn parishes. Most of the files contain answers to a 1938 questionnaire about parish history. They contain valuable information on the original parish boundaries, early history, ethnic makeup, and priest personnel of each parish, especially pastors.
The series also contains research notes and newspaper clippings about the parishes and the priests who served in them. Some of the clippings date back to the 1880’s. They appear to have been removed from an older collection of material. Some of these newspaper clippings contain line drawings showing how the church looked at the time. They sometimes give information about prominent founding members of a parish or those who made significant donations to the parish.
Yet another collection contains material similar to the Hurley, Parish Journal, and Sharp collections. It is the Chancery Records, Parish Files, 1939-1985. This series consists of the Chancery Office files on individual parishes. The series contains official appointments of pastors, parish boundaries, some programs, newspaper clippings, an occasional commemorative journal and, for Queens County parishes, replies to Msgr. Sharp’s questionnaire. Those documents subsequent to 1964 and correspondence and documents regarding baptisms, marriages, etc. are restricted and not available to researchers.
The Bishop Raymond A. Kearney Collection, Personal Correspondence, 1931-1956 is a very different type of collection. This series contains the personal correspondence of Bishop Raymond A. Kearney, Chancellor (1930-1956), and Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn (1934-1956). This partially processed collection includes correspondence with individual priest and laity. It consists of incoming letters to the Bishop and file copies for his outgoing letters. Many of the letters to Brooklyn priests are letters of condolence on the death of family members. Only the processed part of the collection is available to researchers. Among the printed resources of the Archives are a number of books and publications:
History of the Diocese of Brooklyn 1853-1953: The Catholic Church on Long Island. John K. Sharp 2 vols. New York: Fordham University Press, 1954. This is available for reference use at the Archives only. It is out of print.
Priests and Parishes of the Diocese of Brooklyn 1820-1944. John K. Sharp, Comp. New York: Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, 1944. This book contains brief biographical information not only on Brooklyn priests, but also on religious order priests and others who ministered on Long Island. It is for reference use only. It is out of print.
Priests and Parishes of the Diocese of Brooklyn 1820-1990 Vol. I. Harry M. Culkin, Ed. Third ed., revised and expanded. New York: William Charles, 1990. Volume I gives brief biographical information only on the bishops and priests of the Brooklyn Diocese who died before 1983, and those who became part of the Rockville Centre Diocese. At the back of the book is a listing of parishes in Nassau and Suffolk and furnishes the year of founding, information on what parish served the area before the creation of a parish, and the successive pastors. It is available for reference use in the Archives only or may be purchased from the Archives.
Priests and Parishes of the Diocese of Brooklyn 1820-1990 Vol. II. Harry M. Culkin, Ed., Third ed., revised and expanded. New York: William Charles, 1991. Volume II gives more detailed biographical information on the bishops and priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn who died after December 31, 1982, as well as on current clergy up to May 31, 1991. The book also lists the parishes in Brooklyn and Queens, giving the years of founding, information on what parish served an area before the creation of the parish, and its successive pastors. It is also available for reference use or may be purchased.
Chronological List of Churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn (one for Kings and one for Queens). Revised by Sr. M. Caritas Bonifer, 1995. These brief publications list the parishes of Kings and Queens counties in chronological order. They are useful for determining what parishes existed at a particular time period. They are available for purchase for $2 each to cover duplication and postage.
Anyone wishing further information may contact the Archives as follows:
Diocese of Brooklyn
7200 Douglaston Parkway
Douglaston, NY 11362
Telephone (718)229-8001 ext. 475
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