The origins of the Archives of St.Isidores College are well sought in the versatile genius of the Irish friar, Luke Wadding, Annalist and Chronologist General of the Franciscan Order, who was appointed to write the history of the Order, the "Annales Minorum."  The papers that refer to St.Isidores College, and the varied documents written by Wadding, were, from the beginning, all fused together, both those that are personal and those connected with his many activities.  At least it appears so for one trying to construct a clear picture.  In a document prepared for an apostolic visitation in 1663 one reads that there should have been two archives, that of Luke Wadding and that of the house, but there was in fact only one.  Another special characteristic of the Archives of St.Isidores in the first two years after its foundation was the function they were intended to fulfil. Because of the English persecution in Ireland ,the Irish Franciscan Province was unable to have a safe place of keeping at home, and decided therefore to send all its official documentation to Rome, to the archive here. 

The official documentation continued without any significant interruption or change until 1792, the year when it is thought that some sections of the Archives from the Irish Franciscan College of St.Anthony in Louvain were transferred to St.Isidores for safekeeping following the first invasion of the Netherlands.  Just a few years later, in 1798, a series of events began which would lead to the impoverishment and dismemberment of the Archives of St.Isidores.  During the First Roman Republic (1798-99) the documents were hidden and the archives remained intact thanks to the help of Fr. Dunne OP, of San Clemente, Rome.

During the French occupation of the city of Rome (1810 -1814) the College was confiscated and sold to a private owner who changed it into a hostel.  During those four years only the Guardian, James MacCormick, and a lay-brother were allowed to remain in St.Isidores, so that they could celebrate Mass in the church and take care of the Archives and the Library.  Fr. MacCormick arranged the removal of the more precious items to the Vatican, Propaganda Fide and the church of La Minerva.  However, despite these efforts, about 290 manuscripts and some books of St.Isidores were taken to Paris, as well as the Pontifical Archives, and they were not returned until 1817.

When the life of the College was restored in 1814, and normal activity was resumed, efforts were made to recover the books and documents, but not without some thefts and losses.  The peace that followed was short enough, because in September 1870 the "capture of Rome" forced the Irish Provincial to transfer - "fast and furiously"- a large part of the manuscripts and documents from St.Isidores to the British Delegation , in order to keep them safe from doubtless appropriation by the new Italian government.  In a short period of time, in 1872/3, Fr. Luke Carey managed to move this material to Dublin.  It was initially deposited in the friary at Mechants Quay, then in 1946 it was taken to the new house of Franciscan studies at Dun Mhuire, Killiney, and then finally, in the 1990s, to the Micheal O Cleirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilization in University College, Dublin, where the books and manuscipts are now being carefully conserved and studied. 

In 2006, for fear of damage or theft during restoration work in St.Isidores, the remaining valuable material in the Archives and Library - which make up the ancient and rare nucleus - was transferred to the Central Archives in the General Curia of the Franciscan Order here in Rome.  Only in 2012 was it possible to reorganise the documents in their original location in St.Isidores, but without the Papal Bulls, which could not be organised properly in the space available.


Today, the Archives of St.Isidores College are divided into three different collections of documents, located in three different places.

One part is located in Collegio S.Isidoro itself.  In 2010 it was decided to carry out a survey aimed at an initial recognition of the different types of documentation to hand, as also their quantification, with a view to providing a complete inventory.  Meanwhile, it was noted that the documents referred generally to the period 1660 to 2000, but that a more precise study would be required to distinguish the various epochs.  In this survey the typical type of document is indicated, the dating (as far as possible) and the number of pieces involved, which would occupy a total of about 15 linear metres. 

The list entitled "W Section" in an incomplete list of loose documents contained in various folders.

Another part of the Archives, for security reasons, is temporarily located in the Archives of the General Curia of the Order of Friars Minor here in Rome.  A list indicated as "A list of parchments", including pontifical and episcopal documents is a transcription of one part of the preceding paper list. 

The last part of the documentation is conserved in the Library of University College Dublin (