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Genealogy Research,  Genealogy Resources

Traveling Across the Ocean…Genealogy Research in Catholic Records

Jen Baldwin of FindMyPast joined me recently to talk about researching ancestors in Catholic records. FindMyPast‘s Catholic Heritage Archive is the go-to for researching your Catholic ancestors. If you are not familiar with these records at FindMyPast you are in for a treat!

Let’s look at a few highlights, and then I recommend you sit back and watch the replay of our recent Facebook/Youtube Live located at the bottom of this post.

Map of Catholic records for the United States from the Catholic Heritage Archive at Findmypast
Courtesy: FindMyPast

Know Your History – History Dictates the Records!

As genealogy researchers we know social history including the religious and political climate is important to the research process. Understanding the history of the Catholic church in the country where you research is crucial to understanding the records.

In the video below Jen gives us a crash course in the tumultuous history of the Catholic church in the UK. For example, after the Reformation, church attendance or non-attendance became a political act for English Catholics. For family researchers, this means not only the religious records need to be searched, but also, non-conformist and dissenter records.

I can only imagine the confusion and anguish of our ancestors when the practice of religion became a political act as well.

Catholic Census Records

Catholic census records a some of the most transcribed records by the Catholic Records Society (UK). Images of the publications are available via Internet Archive or HaithiTrust (some restrictions apply).

Census records for the Catholic church are limited in the time periods covered, but something you want to include in your genealogy toolbox.

Communion chalice in a Catholic church. Text reads research your Catholic Ancestors
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The Catholic Heritage Archive at FindMyPast

FindMyPast has exclusive Catholic records on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. If you are new to researching in Catholic ancestors, start on the Catholic Heritage Archives homepage. You will find explanations and tips for searching in the records and tips for deciphering the many records in Latin.

The Catholic Heritage Archives includes a variety of records:

  • Parish records
  • Congregational records
  • Masses for the Sick, Dead (1897, Birmingham)
  • City county (Liverpool City Council 1805)
  • Westminster Diocesan Archives, 1860
  • British Armed Forces – Roman Catholic Registers

Notice the wide variety of records! Remember to think beyond parish records.

Catholic Newspapers Can Be Valuable to Your Research

The Tablet  was first published in London in 1840. Issues from 1843 – 1907 available online. It is a fabulous resource to learn more about individuals and events impacting Catholic life.

Do not overlook the possibility of finding needed information on American ancestors in Catholic newspapers across the ocean.

Old Stone church with steeple

 Key Take-Aways for Researching Your Ancestors in Catholic Records

As you watch the video and prepare to research your ancestors in Catholic records, keep these concepts in mind:

  • Know you history!
  • Keep up with academic sources
  • Utilize records from the Catholic Record Society
  • Include non-conformist, dissenter, Catholic AND Anglican sources
  • Newspapers!
  • Search FindMyPast collection in multiple ways to find the resources you need.

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One Comment

  • Carolyn Barnett

    Hi Lisa, the information Jen Baldwin shared was very interesting, but my ancestors are from Germany and Hungary. I would like to have information about researching Catholic records for those countries. Any guidance you can share would be appreciated.

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