Diocese of St. Augustine archive hosts oldest American documents

The Catholic News Agency recently distributed a story with that title about the Diocese of St. Augustine in Florida. The opening paragraph stated “The oldest extant European documents written in U.S. continental territory are now hosted at the Archives of the Diocese of St. Augustine.”

The story also said “One of the earliest documents, dated Jan. 24, 1594, is a handwritten record by Fr. Diego Escobar de Sambrana. It describes the marriage of soldier Gabriel Hernandez to Catalina de Valdes in St. Augustine.” So why can’t we find “modern” marriage records for some of our ancestors! The material in the archives was brought back to one place from a variety of other archives.

On September 22d, a new archives building was dedicated. “Curators intend to digitize the archives so that they can be easily and safely used by researchers.” Unfortunately, the article does not give any time line for that process. Diocesan archives information can be found here and that includes their list of rules for researchers. “The diocese maintains Episcopal archives (1857-1967) and the parish registers of the Cathedral-Basilica (1594-1881). The archives also handles requests for genealogical research and the history of Catholicism in Florida.”

© 2009 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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