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Office of the Bishop records

Identifier: A-01-1016

Scope and Contents

The Office of the Bishop records consists of administrative records, correspondence, photographs, articles, financial records, newsletters, and other papers of Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler and Bishop David Thompson, created during their consecutive episcopacies in the Diocese of Charleston. The subject files were originally created by Unterkoefler and document the religious and social position, activities, and responsibilities of the bishop of Charleston.  Included are records for business and operations of the Diocese of Charleston, charities and social work, education, health care and hospitals, ministry, organizations, the visit of Pope John Paul II to Columbia, South Carolina, race relations, and other subject files on various topics. The collection consists mostly of correspondence to and from Bishop Unterkoefler promoting ministry and outreach to the Catholic community in South Carolina.


  • created: 1943-2001
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1970-1999
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/2006


Conditions Governing Access

Access is restricted; consult repository for details.

Conditions Governing Use

The Diocese of Charleston makes no representation that it is the owner of any copyright or other literary property in the materials contained in its archives. In providing access to or permitting the reproduction of any such materials, the Diocese of Charleston does not assume any responsibility for determining the nature of any rights, ownership or interest therein; nor for obtaining the appropriate permissions to publish or use; nor for determining the nature of any liabilities (for defamation and invasion of privacy) that may arise from any publication or use. This rests entirely with the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

During their episcopacies in the Diocese of Charleston, Bishops Ernest Unterkoefler (1964-1990) and David Thompson (1990-1999) were responsible for fulfilling the obligation of spiritual welfare and secular administration in the South Carolina territory.  This included governing the church in which they held legislative, judicial, and executive power; representing the dioceses in legal affairs; traveling and visiting throughout the diocese; leading councils; bestowing offices in the diocese; teaching; fostering the ecumenical movement; and having solicitude for missionary work.  They were also responsible for being a minister of baptism, confirmation, Holy Communion, confessions, holy orders, blessing and consecrating holy oils, and performing consecrations, dedications, and blessings.              Ernest Leo Unterkoefler (1917-1993) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ernest L. Unterkoefler and Anna Rose Chambers.  In 1944, Unterkoefler became an ordained priest for the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. He then served as a curate in Richmond until 1947, when he was transferred to Arlington, Virginia.  He returned to Richmond in 1950, and in 1954 became secretary of the diocesan tribunal. He served numerous positions for the Diocese of Richmond including chancellor, vicar general, notary, and tribunal secretary.  In 1961, he was named a papal chamberlain as well as titular bishop of Latopolis.  In 1964, Unterkoefler was named and installed as South Carolina's tenth bishop of Charleston.  Unterkoefler served as South Carolina's bishop for twenty-six years, retiring in 1990.  He died in 1993. David Bernard Thompson (born 1923) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  In 1950 he became an ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  He was appointed and ordained as coadjutor bishop of Charleston in 1989, and in 1990 he succeeded Bishop Unterkoefler as the eleventh bishop of Charleston. Bishop Thompson resigned in 1999.

Note written by


26.50 Linear Feet (63 document boxes; 1 slim document box; 1 oversized folder)

Language of Materials



Administrative records, correspondence, photographs, articles, financial records, newsletters, and other papers of Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler and Bishop David Thompson, created during their episcopacies in the Diocese of Charleston.

Source of Acquisition

Rceieved from the Office of the Bishop in 2006.

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler papers.

Separated Materials

Oversize Folder 1: Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, circa 1985

Other Descriptive Information

Formerly known as Chancery Subject Files, 1880-2005 (2006.010)

Processing Information

Processed by Melissa Bronheim, May 2012

Inventory of the Office of the Bishop records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston Archives Repository

114 Broad Street
Carriage House
Charleston SC 29401 US