Catholic North American families will soon be able to trace their ancestral roots to the continent’s oldest diocese with the help of new historical Church archives that are currently being developed.
The goals of the project are to repatriate, restore and preserve more than three centuries of diocesan and parochial documents – particularly baptismal and marriage records – in the new Center for the Historical Archives of the Archdiocese of Quebec.
The Archdiocese of Quebec once took in all of North America, except for the British colonies of what is now the eastern United States, and the Spanish colonies of California, Florida and Mexico. It was the only diocese in New France from 1674 to 1789. The first diocese to be carved out of Quebec was Baltimore in 1789. The first Canadian diocese to be carved out Quebec was Kingston in 1826. Therefore, millions of families throughout Canada and the U.S. can trace their roots to the Quebec diocese.
The new six-storey center will have archive storage, exposition halls and sacred artifacts. Organizers say the center will provide an educational environment.
A foundation was created to raise funds for the $70-million project; $12 million have been raised to date. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, is the foundation’s honorary patron.
Organizers hope the center will be completed by 2008, for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Samuel de Champlain in Quebec.