FROM THE ARCHIVES: Why have an archive?

By Eloise Armstrong, Archivist for the Archdiocese of Hobart

Welcome to our very first regular column for the Catholic Standard; and what better place to start than with an introduction to the work of the archives.

So, why have an archive?

Every Catholic diocese is required by Canon Law to have an archive where “all documents concerning the diocese or parishes are to be kept with the greatest of care.” (Can. 486 §1)

The Archives is located in the former San Carlo church in North Hobart. Our office is open Monday to Thursday.

We have three staff members at the archives:

  • Eloise Armstrong, Archivist
  • Dr Nick Brodie, writer and historian, who focuses on research and digitization projects
  • Freya Harrington, a conservator, who is responsible for the preservation of objects held in the collection.  
Archives staff, L-R: Eloise Armstrong, Dr Nick Brodie and Freya Harrington. Photo: Supplied.

In addition to our paid staff, we are very fortunate to have a team of dedicated volunteers, who attend every Wednesday morning.

The primary function of the archives is to collect and preserve the papers of the Archbishop’s Office, parishes and related organisations.  The collection is rich and varied and includes papers, books, Catholic newspapers, photographs, artworks, architectural drawings, textiles, church plate and sacramental registers. We also house the archives of The Presentation Sisters and the Missionary Sisters of Service.

Most of the collection dates from 1821 when the first Catholic Chaplain, Fr Philip Conolly was appointed to Van Diemen’s Land, but we do hold some objects that are much older – the oldest being a Sarum Missal that was printed in 1527.

The Archdiocese of Hobart Archives provides evidence of the work of the Church in Tasmania and tells the stories of its people. Parts of the collection have been deemed to be of national and international significance and we are very mindful of the responsibility of caring for this collection and, of course, how lucky we are to work with it.

As well as our day-to-day archival and administrative work, we provide research assistance to church office staff, parishes and schools. We also provide family history research and academic research services. A small fee is charged for family history.

Visitors are very welcome, by appointment only, and we can be contacted at or phone 6231 4740.

We are looking forward to sharing news from the Archives in future editions of the Catholic Standard, but in the meantime please have a look at our recently created Facebook page.

Tags: Archives & Heritage Collection, Northern Deanery, Southern Deanery