While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Sister Dolores Kasner, O.P.

CATHOLIC ARCHIVES OF TEXAS. The Catholic Archives of Texas, in Austin, serves as a central depository for records and documents pertaining to the activities of the Catholic Church in the state. The holdings of the collection range from earliest sixteenth-century Spanish explorations to present-day events. The depository had its beginning with the formal organization of the state Knights of Columbus Historical Commission in 1924, when the group, with the endorsement of the Texas bishops, resolved to publish a history of the church in Texas. Soon after launching their project, the commission named as chairman Paul J. Foik, librarian at St. Edward's University, Austin, who had established the Catholic Archives of America at Notre Dame University, where he was librarian for twelve years. Carlos E. Castañeda, professor of history at the University of Texas, was selected as historiographer.

Castañeda spent years researching and collecting source materials from depositories in Mexico City and other seats of government such as Saltillo, Matamoros, and Monterrey. His work culminated in the seven-volume Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, 1519–1936, published between 1936 and 1958. Castañeda gave care of the collection to Bishop Lawrence FitzSimon in 1948, and it became the core of the Catholic Archives of Texas. FitzSimon transferred the materials to Amarillo and during several trips to Europe added materials. These documents include correspondence of early French missionaries, biographical information on early priests, and information on Catholic newspapers, of which the Southern Messenger collection is the most valuable.

After FitzSimon died in 1958, the collection was again transferred to Austin, where it was housed in the chancery of the Catholic Diocese of Austin. With the establishment of the Texas Catholic Conference in 1963, the bishops of Texas placed the care of the archives under its direction. Holdings include records of the Texas Catholic Conference, the Texas Knights of Columbus Historical Commission, the Texas Catholic Historical Society, and religious associations, societies, and Catholic clubs in Texas; papers of Paul J. Foik, William H. Oberste, Sam Houston, Charles S. Taylor, Francis Bouchu, and Fred Bomar; diocese and parish collections; copies of governmental and religious documents in other archives; personal papers and biographical files of the bishops and clergy of Texas; documents dealing with the various religious orders formed or stationed in the state; and newspapers, pamphlets, books, maps, photographs, artifacts, and periodicals relating to the history of the Catholic Church in Texas. The depository, owned and supported by the Catholic hierarchy of Texas, solicits records from institutions and organizations in all parts of the state and is open to researchers.


Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., Catholic Archives of Texas: History and Preliminary Inventory (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1961). Karl M. Schmitt, "The History of the Texas Catholic Historical Society," U.S. Catholic Historian 3 (1983).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Sister Dolores Kasner, O.P., "CATHOLIC ARCHIVES OF TEXAS," accessed August 05, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lcc02.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 18, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...