Findmypast launches Catholic Heritage Archive

Findmypast Has announced immediate availability of millions of exclusive Catholic records published online with more coming soon. The records are from thre United States, Britain and Ireland. The company also announced:

  • Findmypast also announces new additions to the ambitious United States Marriages project
  • Release marks significant expansion of Findmypast’s US data collection

catholicheritagearchive

Thursday 9th February 2017

Leading family history website, Findmypast, today announced the creation of the Roman Catholic Heritage Archive, a ground breaking initiative that aims to digitize the historic records of the Catholic Church in the United States, Britain and Ireland.

Findmypast is today releasing over 3 million exclusive records including sacramental registers for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1757 to 1916 as well as for the British Archdioceses of Westminster and Birmingham from 1657 onwards. This builds on last year’s publication of more than 10 million Irish Catholic parish registers.

The Catholic Church holds some of the oldest and best preserved genealogical records ever created. However, as many of these documents memorialize important religious sacraments such as baptism, marriage and burial, their privacy has long been protected and access to original copies has traditionally been hard to come by.

In collaboration with various Archdioceses of the Catholic Church, Findmypast is helping to bring these records online in one unified collection for the first time ever. Exclusively available on Findmypast, images of original documents will be completely free to view in many cases. Fully searchable transcripts will also be included, providing family historians from the around the world with easy access to these once closely guarded records.

The next phase of the Catholic Heritage Archive will include records from the archdioceses of New York and Baltimore as well as additional records from Philadelphia. There are over 30 million records in just these three dioceses. The digitization of the whole archive is a monumental undertaking and, when complete, will contain hundreds of millions of records for the USA alone.

Brian Donovan, Licensing Manager at Findmypast said; “The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world. Despite the popular perception that it had few adherents in Britain, or was not that important in American settlement, it has always been a significant component (up to 25%) of the population. The Catholic Heritage Archive will uncover the history of millions of Irish, Italian, German, Polish and many other nationalities as they made a new home in the USA.”

Kate Feighery, archivist at the Archdiocese of New York said; “The Archdiocese of New York is delighted to begin the process of opening their sacramental records for historical research. As one of the major immigration hubs in the country, and the second largest diocese in the United States, many Catholic Americans can trace their ancestors back to New York. The Catholic Heritage Archive will allow interested amateur and professional historians to more easily find out more about their family’s roots in Catholic New York.”

Cait Kokolus, Director of the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Records Center said; “The digitization of parish records is a great gift to the Catholics in the Archdiocese. Now they will be able to find where their grandmother was baptized, or when their great-grandparents married. In such a quickly changing society, many people are discovering that knowing their family history gives a sense of identity and stability.”

10 million new US marriage Records

Findmypast has also just released a further 10 million United States Marriage records in association with Family Search International. The new additions cover 45 states, over 1,800 counties and date from the early 17th century up to the present day. Over 65 million records are currently available to search within the collection.

Covering 360 years of marriages from 1650-2010, when complete this landmark collection will form the single largest online archive of U.S. marriages in history and will only be found in its entirety exclusively on Findmypast.

The launch of these new US records is central to Findmypast’s growth strategy in the U.S. They will complement Findmypast’s massive collection of British and Irish data, providing many more connections and a more comprehensive experience to family historians in the US and all over the world.

15 Comments

If these NY, Philadelphia etc archdiocesan records become available as implied above, it will be beyond amazing. Especially NYC. I wonder if the Brooklyn diocese will follow suit. And I wonder when it will happen. The Archdiocese of Boston records are being digitized now by NEGHS. Be still my heart.

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    I had a chance to talk informally this evening with several of the Findmypast folks who are here at RootsTech. They assured me and everyone else that this will happen. Some of the records (I think they said Philadelphia) have already been digitized and will be amongst the first to be placed online. The others will follow in later months.

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Wow! Hoping Diocese of Buffalo NY will be coming along soon. This is beyond amazing.

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Excellent News! Anxiously awaiting more diocese/archdiocese to follow suit [Albany!?]! I work for my parish and we still hand-write all our sacraments into registers and the archdiocese comes once every 2 years to microfilm them [sure wish they would let us print them or submit electronically – 250+ students being confirmed each year with vast amount of data I record is very hard on the hand! And not sure why they still microfilm instead of digital files].

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Crossing my fingers. Both the parish and diocese have been unresponsive to my attempts to get a copy of my great grandparents 1918 marriage record. Was beginning to think my last hope was a 2600 mile round-trip drive.

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Mike Miller
Is it known that, if this effort is successful (and we hope it is!), will it be expanded to other Dioceses in the US, as the name of the project implies?

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I’m disappointed to find that the Philadelphia records are missing Chester County.

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Beginning in the early 1980s the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Diocese of Baton Rouge, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Diocese of Lafayette & the Diocese of Lake Charles have been published in books much to the pleasure of genealogists and those with Louisiana roots. The Archdiocese of New Orleans has been digitizing their microfilms and putting online these ecclesiastical a few years at a time for a few years now. The books are found in most libraries and the online records are free!!

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Incredible! I got nothing with the search engines for my Irish ancestors in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, so I switched over to browsing the actual sacramental registers. There are two, so far, and I started off with St. James the Greater, Philadelphia South. You have to scroll up and down on each page, by pushing the mouse, to see the actual year involved. I found my missing marriage (1858) in about 10 minutes. This never happens, I don’t believe it. St. James the Greater is in central Philadelphia.
The Ledger is in Latin, at least in the beginning.
I will now try to search for the three baptisms of their children. This is an ongoing record project, and I am sure that many are soon to follow. By all means, try browse on whatever exists for your area.

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    Do you have a Find My Past subscription? Or are these records free to access? I too got nothing when searching and thanks for the info that the actual images can be browsed. But do I need a FMP subscription?

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Dear Virginia, I have a subscription to Find My Past. I have emailed their site to see if a subscription is required, and as soon as I hear from them, I will post it immediately. However, I don’t see any indication so far that it is free. Perhaps you would consider contacting the Diocese/Archdiocese and asking them if they are releasing these records on any other site?
Mary Ann

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    In the past, I have found it hard to reach anyone in the NY archdiocesan archives tho I have not tried in some years. I’m hoping it will be an arrangement similar to that which the Brooklyn Public Library made with newspapers.com, an Ancestry.com subsidiary. The library let newspapers.com digitize the entire run of the Brooklyn Eagle as long as access to the Eagle remained free to users thru the library online.

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Dear Dick, Do you have any information as to whether this information on Find My Past requires a paid subscription, and if these records are available or will be made available elsewhere, either free or subscription required?
Thanks, Mary Ann

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    The only info I have is what is in the announcement. I will point out that there are millions of records already online but for only the “Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1757 to 1916 as well as for the British Archdioceses of Westminster and Birmingham from 1657 onwards.”

    Other Catholic records are not yet online. The plan is to add records from many other locations in the near future.

    Next, not every diocese will become available. The records are controlled by the archivist of each diocese. Most diocese archivists are expected to sign contractual agreements with Findmypast to have their records digitized and published online. However, there probably will be a few archdiocese archivists who decide not to allow their records to be digitized for whatever reasons they deem to be important. If the archdiocese archivist does not sign such an agreement, Findmypast cannot legally digitize or publish their holdings.

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This is the answer I got back from Find My Past:

Thank you for getting in touch. 

I’m glad to hear that you have already found a marriage record in these new records and thank you for your feedback. 

These record sets can be accessed via a Premium subscription to Findmypast or via credits (10 credits per transcript and 10 credits per image). Our credit options can be found on the following page: 

https://www.findmypast.com/pay?isfreetrialrequest=false

There is also a 14 day free trial option which is available to new users of Findmypast: 
https://www.findmypast.com/pay?isfreetrialrequest=true

I hope you continue to enjoy searching these records, please get back in touch if you have any further queries. 

Regards
Vicky
Findmypast Support Team

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