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Centuries old Catholic relics unboxed

Boxes and boxes of history, owned by the Cincinnati Archdiocese  and not seen in decades, will be available for viewing  in a renovated light, humidity and temperature-controlled building in January.

The records and artifacts, dating back to the founding of what was then the Diocese of Cincinnati in 1821, will be open to the public at 25 East 8th Street upon completion of a 164-year old building, once owned by the Literary Club of Cincinnati.

According to the Church's interim archivist and project manager Richard Hamilton, "The Archive is a treasure house not only for the local Church, but for scholars around the country. This move preserves the collection and makes it more accessible."

Here are some examples of what you can see:

  • Ornate chalices and chairs
  • Relics and belongings of past popes and bishops
  • Sacramental records for much of the Midwest-formerly the Northwest Territories
  • Historical books and liturgical documents
  • Centuries of journals and writings from priests, bishops, and pastors

Refurbishing the Chancery Archive

Here is a time-lapse video:


People use the archive for different purposes. Here are two recent examples:

  • Cincinnati Police Detective Jim Wigginton has opened up a 1988 case in which Rookwood Pottery was stolen from Dr. Spurdi, the former director of the Institute Divi Thomae, a Catholic research center. Recently he had a lead that an art dealer may have been offered pieces from this stolen collection. If you know anything, call Cincinnati Police.
  • A researcher from Minnesota contacted Hamilton to ask if she could have the baptism record of a Cree Indian named Hidden Bird and who lived at the Cincinnati Zoo in the late 1800's. Hamilton discovered Jesuit Priests were evangelizing to the Indian and they baptized him, gave him last rites and first communion.

For more information about seeing the collection, email Richard Hamilton rhamilton@catholiccincinnati.org
Hamilton says currently the Church is not currently doing geneaology.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.