Street Address
1600 N. Congress
Austin, TX 78711
Mailing Address
P. O. Box 13124
Austin, TX 78711
phone: 512-476-6296
fax: 512-476-3715
Museum Type(s)
Kinga Perzynska
phone: 512-476-6296
Susan Eason, Archives Assistant
phone: 512-476-4888


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Prompted by the destruction of the Ysleta mission church, built in 1682, and determined to fight against anti-Catholic forces marshalled by the Ku Klux Klan, the Texas Knights of Columbus in 1923 formed their Historical Commission. Seeking to preserve the Catholic heritage of Texas, the commission set as its goal the writing of a well-researched and academically soundhistory of the Catholic Church in Texas. The resulting seven-volume series, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas,1519- 1936, exceeded that goal. It was written by noted Latin American historian, Dr. Carlos E. Castañeda, and edited by Historical Commission chair, Rev. Dr. Paul J. Foik, C.S.C.

Simultaneous with the writing of Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, the Texas Knights of Columbus Historical Commission established the Catholic Archives of Texas (CAT) in 1923 to house materials relating to the history of the Catholic Church in Texas. The CAT, now housed in the Chancery building of the Diocese of Austin, includes among its holdings the original and photostat records gathered by the Historical Commission for the writing of Our Catholic Heritage in Texas. These records form the bulk of the Spanish and Mexican Manuscript Collection. Recently, CAT published The Guide to the Spanish and Mexican Manuscripts Collection at the Catholic Archives of Texas that is available for $15.00 and The Records of The Texas Catholic Conference, published in 1998 is also available for $15.00.

Prior to its move to the Chancery building of the Diocese of Austin, the Catholic Archives of Texas was located at St. Edward's University in Austin. In 1948, the Archives came under the custodianship of the Catholic Hierarchy of Texas, with Bishop L. J. FitzSimon of Amarillo as custodian. In June 1959, the Archives were moved into the basement of the newly built Chancery Office of the Diocese of Austin. Since 1986, the CAT has existed under the auspices of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, which was formed in 1964. The Catholic Archives of Texas is the only repository of its kind servicing one religion for an entire state in the United States.

The Texas Catholic Historical Society (TCHS) formed in 1928. According to its charter, the TCHS supported the Archives and designated a "curator-bishop" to maintain the Archives. When Bishop FitzSimon, the first of the "curator-bishops," died in 1958, the activities of TCHS ceased. In 1976, the Society was re-chartered in Galveston. Since 1990, TCHS has published an annual scholarly journal which has won awards from the Catholic Press Association for its 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997 issues. The Texas Catholic Historical Society also publishes a trimesterly newsletter and holds an annual meeting in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Texas State Historical Association.

Artifacts Collections

Catholics in Texas

Research Collections

The Catholic Archives of Texas' Kasner Reference Library contains over 2,000 books and periodicals for research and reference use. These include genealogical name guides as well as volumes documenting the history and culture of Texas and the history of the Catholic Church. In addition, the CAT maintains a rare books, map, and artifact collection featuring vestments, religious objects, maps, and rare books, such as a 16th-century English family Bible and the first sacramental registers (beginning in 1847) of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Frelsburg, Texas. CAT's photograph collection contains 8,000 prints, slides, and negatives (ca.1860--) documenting Catholic churches, clergy, and religious who served in Texas. Descriptions for CAT's holdings are catalogued on national-level databases through the auspices of the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections.

The Catholic Archives of Texas holds other collection of interest to researchers. The CAT's Personal Papers Collection includes records of Sam Houston (1838-1860) and Charles S. Taylor (1828-1868), which document the Republic of Texas period, along with records of and historical documents collected by Rev. William H. Oberste (1793-1830) and Rev. Dr. Paul J. Foik (1917-1941). The Foik and Oberste Personal Papers illustrate the work of the Texas Knights of Columbus Historical Commission. The Collection also includes personal correspondence and administrative records of Texas bishops and missionaries, notably Francis Bouchu (1860-1906), a French missionary priest who served in San Antonio missions for 50 years. Manuscripts Collection include the Archives of the University of Notre Dame Correspondence, divided into Vincentian Papers (1837-1875); the Propagation of Faith Records (1837-1888), from Paris, Lyons-Fribourg, and Rome; and the Catholic Institutions Collection (1841--). Corporate Records include the Texas Catholic Historical Society and its journal; Texas Catholic Conference (1964-

Educational Programs

Exhibitions in-house; presentations to genealogical societies and religious archivists. Some are available for tour/loan. Contact Archivist for more information.


Annual report is privately issued. Cooperates with TCHS. Catholic Southwest a journal of History and Culture; a trimesterly newsletter; Guide to the Spanish and Mexican Manuscript Collection at the Catholic Archives of Texas by Dedra S. McDonald, 1994. Guide to the records of the Texas Catholic conference by Margaret Schalankey, 1998.