What is a church record?

Catholic baptismal registers

Parish registers are irreplaceable documents for reconstructing the religious life, but not only, of a community. Let us see what they are, how they are compiled and how we too can consult them.

Every parish preserves the history of the men and women who attend it and who have attended it. It is not only about the real and physical presence that animates its surroundings, in the common rooms, in the catechism classrooms and, of course, inside the church.

It is a presence that remains, in a way, persistent even after these people no longer frequent the parish, and have long since passed away, as is always the case in places filled with rich spiritual activity.

What is it all about? Parish registers are books in which the pastor, or whoever is appointed by him, records everything that happens within the parish. In particular, the parish registers report the births, thanks to the Baptismal register, the deaths of parishioners, through the indication of funerals, marriages, communions, confirmations and, in general, the administration of the sacraments.

What are parish registers and what are they for?

Parish records such as birth, marriage and death certificates can provide interesting data for genealogical research, and are an excellent source for finding data on an ancestor from a particular region or locality.

How many ecclesiastical archives are there?

It has about 150,000 documents, more than 650 different archival collections and an extension of about 85 linear kilometers of shelves, covering some eight hundred years of history.

How can I find out where I was baptized?

Contact the church. Locate the church where the baptism took place. Many churches retain records of baptisms that took place within their walls. They may be able to provide you with a copy of your or your child’s baptism record directly.

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Digitized parish registers mexico

From the genealogical point of view, the books that registered all the Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages and Deaths are essential. Only with them it would be possible to make a solid genealogical tree since the 16th century. Some aspects to keep in mind:

-When consulting the Marriage books, the marriage certificate may not appear but the celebration of a ceremony linked to it, the wake, which can provide us with as much information and certainty of the marriage as the marriage certificate that may be inscribed on another date or another parish. In addition, it is important to check if the marriage certificate mentions the existence of a dispensation to marry, which indicates that a marriage file was created where we could find additional information about the bride and groom, the circumstances of the wedding and their families (see the ecclesiastical marriage files).

It will be advisable to keep a complete copy of each certificate that we consult, either by means of a photograph, by requesting a reproduction by any means or even by writing down its literal content ourselves. Everything that is reflected in them, any nuance, could help us in the future, from the names of the people who participated to other circumstances surrounding the sacrament.

What is the parish archive?

The parish archive is the basic unit of the archival system of the Catholic Church. Its mission, in general terms, is to conserve the documents that parishes produce or receive in the development of their ministry, as well as those related to the administration of their goods.

What were the parish books?

The parish books are, for the most part, the occasional records of baptisms, marriages, deaths and various sacraments performed by the priests or religious ministers residing in a parish.

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How do I know if I am confirmed?

Since always and until today, the record of any sacrament is recorded in the books of each parish. This is done by hand. For this reason, you can only request that a record of any sacrament be issued to you at the parish where it was performed.

Digitized parish archives

Undoubtedly, the most important records for genealogical research in Latin America are those kept by the Roman Catholic Church. In Latin America, the vast majority of people were Roman Catholics and were registered in the records of the parish or local diocese. The baptismal, marriage and death or burial records of the aforementioned church are the best sources of information to search for the names and genealogical data of family members.

Records from many regions of Latin America have been lost or have deteriorated due to natural effects, such as humidity and insects, and natural disasters, such as fires, floods and earthquakes. Civil and political strife has also been the cause of the destruction of parish records in many countries. However, many records that have been considered lost have simply been misplaced or misinterpreted; over time, additional collections of parish books from Latin America have been discovered and microfilmed.

What are government files?

In a complete archival system, the archive of a Ministry is a Central Archive, that is, the documents kept here are in the second stage or phase of their documentary life.

What is an intermediate file?

Intermediate archive – According to the DTA (1995), this is the archive to which documents from the central archives are transferred when they are consulted by the producing organizations only sporadically and where they remain until they are eliminated or transferred to the historical archive.

What is the support of a document?

Physical media on which the information of the document is captured according to the material used, paper, audiovisual, photographic, filmic, computer, oral and sound.

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Digitized parish registers spain

After the Council of Trent, since 1563, the parishes were in charge of collecting in books the data of their parishioners, especially the data on birth, marriage and death. These documents are fundamental for the knowledge of family data, through the “partidas” of baptism, marriage and death, thanks to the information they include about each person.

Baptism: Date and place of baptism. Data of the baptized: date and place of birth, name, sex and legitimacy. Data of the parents. Paternal and maternal grandparents’ information. Details of the godparents.

Marriage: Date of marriage. Names and surnames of the contracting parties. Marital status, age and profession of the spouses. Details of the parents, grandparents and godparents. Names of witnesses.

Death: Date. Name, surname, marital status, age and profession of the deceased. Cause of death. Name of the spouse of the deceased. Details of the parents. Note as to whether the deceased made a will.