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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

Washington National Cathedral Archives

Address: Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW
Washington, DC 20016
Telephone Number: (202) 537-8981
Fax Number: (202) 364-6600
Contact Persons: Dr. Richard G. Hewlett, Historiographer

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
Tuesday and Thursday: 10:00 a.m.--2:00 p.m.
Open to the public: Yes, by appointment
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: No

Personnel files and some recent files are not available to the public.

Reference Policy:
Telephone and mail reference questions are answered for the public provided that inquiries are precise and can be answered without extensive research.
Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution.
Background Note:
The Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation was chartered by the United States Congress in 1893. Construction of the cathedral itself was started in 1907 and was completed in 1990. The Cathedral is the seat of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. The cathedral is not an instrument of the federal government and receives no support from the federal government, the Diocese of Washington, or the Episcopal Church. Worship services in the cathedral are based on the liturgy of the Episcopal Church, but the Cathedral is open to other Christian denominations and other religions and is maintained as a house of prayer for all people. Researchers should note that there is no central register of genealogical data in the Episcopal Church. Such records are held by individual parishes. The only such data held by the Cathedral are baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials performed in the cathedral.
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Description of Collections

Books and monographs:
This is a library of histories and reference works related to the history of the Cathedral and the Episcopal Church (500 volumes, open to the public) with inclusive publication dates from 1890 to 1980. The archives also has in storage a collection of architectural and art books (approximately 1,500 volumes), used for reference during design and construction of the cathedral These pertain primarily to Gothic architecture. This collection is not available for research at present.

There is a computer catalog for both libraries, 1890-1980.

Periodicals and newspapers:
The Archives holds Cathedral Age, a quarterly magazine, 1925-present. This journal describes activities of the cathedral and its associated schools: the National Cathedral School for girls, St. Albans School for boys, Beauvoir School, and the College of Preachers. Also contains occasional articles on other Episcopal and Anglican cathedrals and articles on conferences held in the cathedral on religious, ethical, economic, and social issues of national significance.

A detailed computer index is available.

Archives, manuscripts, correspondence, and oral histories:
The central core of the Cathedral Archives is the manuscript collection, consisting of 52 record groups, 250 record storage boxes, and 6,600 folders. The collection documents the corporate, administrative, and public history of the cathedral, 1885-1990.

A computerized inventory which can be searched by folder title and record date span is available for the entire collection. A new system, which incorporates key word searching, is being installed.

The curator of the manuscript collection is Dr. Richard G. Hewlett, the Cathedral Historiographer, (202) 537-8981.

The architectural and constuction records generated during the 83 years that the cathedral was under construction are maintained in a separation collection maintained off-site. The collection consists of 250 record center boxes of correspondence and reports and approximately 40,000 architectural drawings. A rough preliminary inventory by storage box and map case drawer exists on computer. For access to the collection, consult Dr. Richard Hewlett, (202) 537-8981.

Five of the 52 record groups noted in the Archives section have been microfilmed for document security purposes.
Paintings, photographs, slides, and prints:
Four record groups in the main collection contain only photographs. Photos cover major events in the history of the cathedral since 1900.

These record groups are included in the computerized inventory.

The photo curator is Jesse Wilson, (202) 537-8981.

Subject Headings

Bratenahl, George C. F., 1862-1939; Callaway, Paul, 1909-1985; Christian art; Church architecture; Church buildings; Church music; Councils and synods; Creighton, William Forman, 1909-1987; Dirksen, Richard Wayne, 1921- ; Dun, Angus, 1892-1971; Ecumenical movement; Education and religion; Episcopal Church--Clergy; Feller, Richard T., 1919- ; Freeman, James Edward, 1866-1943; Harding, Alfred, 1852-1923; Liturgy; Perry, Charles Austin, 1928- ; Preaching; Religion and state, Religious art; Religious biography; Ritual; Sacraments; Satterlee, Henry Yates, 1843-1908; Sayre, Francis Bowes, Jr., 1915- ; Sermons; Theological education; Walker, John Thomas, 1925-1989; Women and religion; Worship


Inventory of Washington Cathedral Archives. Historical Records Survey, Work Progress Administration. Washington, DC: Works Progress Administration, 1930. [Outdated but contains valuable historical information.]

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  June 22, 2017
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