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From: "Aunt Lizzie's Trunk" <>
Subject: [APG] Access to US Catholic parish records
Date: Thu, 08 May 2008 09:29:01 -0400
References: <20080507.220811.14942.0@webmail05.vgs.untd.com>
In-Reply-To: <20080507.220811.14942.0@webmail05.vgs.untd.com>

Gary and other listers,

Gary wrote: "I did not realize that every Catholic diocese had an archives with microfilmed copies of the original record books that are still at the churches, running back to the 1850's."

If you are talking about US Catholic records, I can assure you that is
*not* the case. Dioceses have archivist, but not all records are
microfilmed. In the Diocese of Bridgeport (Conn), for example, there
are no centralized parish records. They are kept at the parish level
and there are no copies anywhere, even in the parish.

Additionally, Jeanette wrote this:

"My concern is not who microfilms the Catholic Church records - just that they be preserved and available. From what others are telling me, there will not be a restriction for using them. They will be available through Catholic Archives and not the Family History Library."

There frequently *are* restrictions for using Catholic records. It is up
to the bishop in each diocese to decide whether the records will be
available and to whom.

This means that some dioceses have all of the old parish records, either
the books themselves or microfilmed copies and allow access for research
by individuals--a fabulous situation for genealogists.

Others have centralized records but do not allow public access. In this
case researchers submit requests for the records they seek, as well as a
fee usually, and an employee of the archives does the research. This
situation is less satisfactory since we can't expect an archivist to
know all of the nuances we know about the subject of research, and
important information could be missed.

Lastly, as I already mentioned, there are some dioceses in which the
parish records still reside at the parish. In those cases it is up to
the pastor to decide who has access to the records, or if the parish
staff is permitted to look up records on a time-available basis.
Sometimes a researcher is permitted a peek at the books, sometimes we
have to depend on a busy parish secretary who may or may not understand
the Latin entries in the register.

Nora Galvin
Member APG
Bridgeport, Conn.

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