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Joan Lawson Appointed as Diocesan Archivist


March 8, 2022

MORE INFO: Joan Lawson, Diocesan Archivist, (330) 744-8451,

ADDITIONAL MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Huyck, Coordinator of Media Relations, (330) 744-8451, ext. 320,

YOUNGSTOWN, OH — The Most Reverend David J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown, announces the appointment of Joan Lawson as Diocesan Archivist for the Diocese of Youngstown. Lawson assumed her position effective March 1, 2022. The diocesan archivist is a new position, providing administrative and policy leadership for the diocesan archives, records management program, and electronic document management systems. In her new role, Lawson will serve as liaison with those accessing the archives, including diocesan offices, parishes, schools, and researchers. Lawson will also serve as historian for special publications and programs.

The appointment of Lawson as diocesan archivist, within the Office of the Chancellor, follows the earlier appointment of Father David Misbrenner as curator of the patrimony. Bishop Bonnar comments, “We need to give joyful witness to our history. It has been my dream since I arrived to establish a diocesan archives. In fact, it is necessary and obligatory for every diocese. Joan is the perfect person to lead our efforts to care for and document our history. With her experience and training in both history and ministry, she will help us dream of new ways to tell our story and build on that story as we live the mission of the Church.”

Lawson, a native of Youngstown, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Youngstown State University, a Master of Arts in History and Certificate in Historical Agency Administration from Northeastern University in Boston, and a second Certificate in Historical Agency Administration from the Seminar for Historical Administration in Williamsburg, Virginia. After extensive professional experience in public history, she later earned a Master of Religious Education degree from Loyola University of New Orleans in their extension program (LIMEX) with the Diocese of Youngstown. She has served in professional parish ministry at St. Paul in Salem, St. Brendan in Youngstown, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Austintown, and St. Michael in Canfield. Since 2018, Lawson served as Consultant in the Diocese of Youngstown’s Office of Faith Formation and Lay Ecclesial Ministry.

As a historian, Lawson was Assistant Director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society in Youngstown, overseeing collections management, exhibition, education, and publications. In Massachusetts, she served at the Adams National Historic Site, the Quincy Historical Society, and the Danvers Historical Society (curating materials related to the Salem witchcraft trials, among other historical pieces). She also served in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast, for the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, as a researcher in database on Irish emigration to America.

Commenting on her new role, Lawson says, “I feel blessed to be able to bring to church ministry my understanding of history and how to preserve and organize pieces of the past. I’m excited to be able to safeguard the materials themselves and to find in them stories that can inspire and guide us as God’s faithful people. As we increase our understanding of the path of the development of our faith communities, we shed light on the journey of our own times, and on the road ahead of us as we continue to spread the Gospel.”

Lawson has been married to Bill Lawson since 2003. She has two stepchildren and a first grandchild on the way.

The Diocese of Youngstown was established on May 15, 1943, with parishes within the diocese dating back over 200 years. In 1943, six northeastern counties in the state of Ohio were taken from the Diocese of Cleveland and were formed into the Diocese of Youngstown. The Diocese of Youngstown officially celebrated its 75th Anniversary beginning in May 2018. 


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