The word archives conjures an image of a dark room with file cabinets, covered in dust, filled with papers that are delicate, containing fading, often illegible writing, all of it overseen by an ancient cleric who is greatly concerned to make sure that no one enters his precinct with a ballpoint pen.
Maria Mazzenga, archivist for The Catholic University of America in Washington, is out to shatter that image. I first met Mazzenga at the frequent brown-bag lunches hosted by the university’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, where we are both fellows. She can scarcely contain her enthusiasm about the university’s collections, which include the papers of famous churchmen like Msgr. John A. Ryan, and also the papers of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.