Church Archives in the Washington, D.C. Area

Posted: November 14, 2015 by saacua in Inside the Archives, Miscellaneous Research
Tags: , , ,

Guest Post by: Erin Sidwell

NationalCathedral            The category of church archives in Washington, DC can be said to be as old as the city itself, making them an intrinsic aspect of cultural heritage in the community.  The Holy Trinity Catholic Church was established in 1787, and its earliest surviving records date from 1792, just two years after the city of Washington, DC was founded.  The Holy Trinity Catholic Church Archive is an invaluable source of information, not only regarding the administration of the church as an institution, but also a source of information about the many people that have special ties to the church and the about community that grew out of it.

One institution that, surprisingly, did not have a designated archives from its beginnings is the Washington National Cathedral.  Its archive was not established until the 1980s by the voluntary leadership of Richard G. Hewlett.  Hewlett was the historiographer for the Washington National Cathedral, and he established the Cathedral archives in the 1980s.  This was not his first experience forming an archive; Hewlett was also historiographer for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington as well as the Atomic Energy Commission and established archives there, and prior to that he worked as an Intelligence Specialist for the U.S. Air Force (“Richard G. Hewlett, Co-Founder,” 2015). Richard-Hewlett

The Washington National Cathedral archives contain materials from the Cathedral’s founding and construction, including the frequently-referenced building plans and architectural drawings (“Cathedral archives,” 2015).  The accumulation of materials since then caused the archives to outgrow the available space at the Cathedral. Aside from being the person primarily responsible for archiving the collections, Hewlett can also be credited with the long-term preservation and accessibility of not only the Cathedral archives, but several others as well.  Hewlett was one of the co-founders of History Associates, Inc., a company that provides a variety of archives-related services, such as archiving, collections management, histories, and exhibits.


History Associates, Inc.  (2015). “Richard G. Hewlett, Co-founder.” Retrieved from

Washington National Cathedral. (2015). “Cathedral archives.”  Retrieved from


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