Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Records Of The Ancient Order Of Hibernians

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) is a fraternal, Catholic organization founded "concurrently in the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania and New York City in May, 1836."[1] It is no exaggeration to say that tens of thousands of Irish immigrants, and their descendants, have been members throughout its history, and up to the present day.

As a genealogist, an immediate question springs to mind: how can I get access to their records to see if an ancestor was a member? Well, you may have to take a number of approaches. It is also important to point out that records did not survive in their entirety for every division (local group). Also, while being Irish-born was a requirement in the early decades of existence, a members place of origin in Ireland was not necessarily recorded on their application.

Firstly, contact information for the four main archive sites is listed on their website:

Dr. Timothy Meagher, Archivist
Catholic History Research Center
Catholic University of America
101 Life Cycle Institute
620 Michigan Avenue NE
Washington, D.C. 20064
FAX 202-319-6554

Mr. Lee Arnold, Director of the Library
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-5699
FAX 215-732-2680,

New York State Irish-American *(see first comment below)
Heritage Museum
991 Broadway, Suite 101
Albany, New York 12204
FAX 528-449-2540

Mr. Kevin Cawley, Archivist
University of Notre Dame Archives
607 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
FAX 574-631-7980

AOH members Colcade, PA 1917

Secondly, you may need to contact the division in the area where your ancestor lived, to find out about surviving records and where they might be located. A directory and map is available on the AOH website. Records could be stored at a members house, at a division building, or in a local library/institution. Later this week, I will write about an example of local records.

Thirdly, the AOH website has online digital copies of two national directories of officers. They are for the years 1884 and 1902. It is a good idea to firstly read the introduction about these directories.

AOH members Kilkenny, Minnesota 1910-1915

[1] Ancient Order of Hibernians. About the AOH. Date Unknown. Ancient Order of Hibernians. http://www.aoh.com/about-the-aoh: accessed 26 February 2014.

Colcade, PA picture courtesy of Colcade High School Alumni website.
Kilkenny, MN picture courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society Collections.


  1. I am the genealogist in residence at the Irish American Heritage Museum, mentioned as a source of possible AOH records, above. Joseph Dolan, the museum's founder, passed away several years ago. I have heard mention of the collection of AOH records the museum is in possession of, but I know few details. The only thing I do know is that they are allegedly in no type of organized order, and I doubt anyone even knows the extent of the records they have. The current museum director is Ryan Mahoney, he could be contacted from the website http://irish-us.org/ for further information.

  2. Lisa,

    Thank you for that update and current information.



  3. Would these records point me to an ancestral county or townland (!) in Ireland? Looking at several archival finding aids and links on your site, I think these records are less likely to give this information but maybe on an application. I've already gone through vital records, census, and cemetery records without much luck finding some connection to Ireland. The period I'm working in is 1850-1910.

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