Baptismal Records


Is there any way to search for baptismal records for an individual, like a big database somewhere?




Some diocese have all the Sacramental records for their parishes on a database at the diocesan level, others do not.

You should call the parish where you were baptized if you need a copy of your records.


Hope this doesn’t go on too long for you…I’ve worked for my diocese as a paid employee and as a volunteer in my parish for some time now. :slight_smile:

Just in case you don’t know…your records of sacraments are considered highly private. Since your baptismal record can be used to obtain social security benefits…it’s considered a legal document. This being so, it could only then be released to you.

Every diocese does have some sort of Archives department and that’s where one could start in searching for the record if you can’t remember where you were baptised. ( Whatever church you are baptised at becomes your church of record.) So if 25 years later you get married in a Catholic church in a different state, that church would need to send some sort of official documentaion to the church you were baptised at for proper record keeping purposes.

At periodic times, Archive departments will microfilm a parish’s records for the purpose of updating its centrally localized records.

You can only, however, ask for your record and/or yor children(s) records if they are under the age of 18. Anyone considered of legal age must request their own records (barring anyone with disabilities who would then have a guardian granted permission to do this).


Is it possible to obtain records of long-dead ancestors for genealogy research?


If I may, I’d like to ask Father your question tomorrow morning…I’ll be working for a few hours and this question has never come up. :slight_smile:


Thank you. :slight_smile: I would appreciate it.


you’re very welcome…well I’m off to bed and hopefully I’ll get a few hours in before I wake myself up with my snoring! :stuck_out_tongue:


Have a good night. :wave: I’ll check back to see the answer.


It’s not for me. I need records for someone and we don’t know where they were baptized, just that they were baptized. I have a name and a birthplace where they were born.


Sometimes, but often not. Parish secretaries, while willing to search through the baptismal records for necessary purposes, such as for persons:
*]recieving their first Communions,
*]being confirmed,
*]getting married,
*]preparing marriage cases for the Diocesan Tribunal,
*]or who are candidates for Holy Orders
all this on top of of all the other work involved in operating a parish office, generally do not have time to search through the baptismal records for unnecessary purposes, such as genealogy.

We often get requests like this:

“What can you tell me about my great-great grandfather? His name was John or Peter or John Peter or maybe Peter John. We think his wife’s name was Martha or Margaret or Mary or Maria; something that starts with M-a-r. We don’t know exactly when he was born but we’re about 75% sure it was before 1900, and we don’t know if he was baptized at your church or a different one.”

No offense intended, I understand your genealogy is important to you. But if we researched every genealogical querry that comes into our parish, little else would get done.


Thank you! I just got done with dinner and clean up here at home…to answer your question…Father told me that he personally didn’t see a problem releasing records of ancestors with necessary identification and proof of relation. He added that he has on occasion found it necessary to do so regarding wills and such. He suggested that you contact the Archive department for your diocese and ask what their specific guidelines might be…he also said that sometimes depending on how old the records, they might actually be classified as historical documents and might just be available to the general public at your public library.

Hope this was helpful and I’m sorry if you waited too long for the answer.:slight_smile:

By the way, my few hours this morning turned into an all day clean up at the parish! Vandals destroyed…literally…one of our confessionals; and left the restroom in a total mess. So my family spent today cleaning up (we decided to clean the whole church)…it’s so sad that this happens and it’s unfortunately not the first time either. I wonder if your parish has ever experienced any vandalism to this degree…should a thread be started? :frowning:


Oh, that is just awful. :eek: :mad: :crying: Thankfully, no this has not happened in my parish. The worst thing that happened was a man in the neighbourhood who stole money from the poor boxes. He was stealing from all kinds of churches (Catholic, Lutheran, etc.) until he got caught because he chose to steal from a church that had security cameras. Then he confessed to all the stealing.


Checking cemetery records is a great idea…I’m going to keep this in my book of helpful hints at the office. Thanks!

I’m also glad that your parish hasn’t experienced more than collection box theft…anything more than that can really keep the “Christ” out of your normally content Christian! :stuck_out_tongue:


You’re welcome. :slight_smile: What you said about the Archives is very helpful to me. I know that many of the old churches closed anyways, so I wouldn’t have known where to look. But since you mentioned the Archives, now I know where to look. Thanks. :slight_smile:


get help from your local geneological society or research library, and narrow down all the facts you can get in place before searching for sacramental records, using tools like Family Search (the Mormons database), sacramental, burial and other church records microfilmed by local historical societies and archives. Make sure you have names, parents, birthdate and place and everything else, and make sure you have followed the rules–researching from this generation back. The more data you have the easier to find the record. your gen library can help you with specialized searches as well, and tell you where in the area you are searching those sacramental records are likely to be found. for baptismals, begin with the diocesan archives, esp. if you don’t know the parish, but bear in mind they do not have unlimited time and resources to search. if the baptismal parish has closed, or been merged with another, this step is essential.


Well, considering that the church keeps “the name of every Protestant church member in the world” in a “big computer” in the Vatican, it wouldn’t surprise me.

(See if you don’t get it)



:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

In all seriousness, actually, I was surprised that Lutheran churches have so much fancier baptismal certificates. A friend of mine from church became a Catholic 4 years ago. He had been baptised Lutheran. He brought his baptismal certificate to Bible study (he was attending our Catholic Bible study along with his wife who is a cradle Catholic and the rest of us, while he was studying in RCIA). My baptismal certificate (and those of all the Catholics I know) is just a piece of paper with black type and signed by the priest. The Lutheran baptismal certificate is multi-coloured with calligraphy. My confirmation certificate is nicer looking than my baptismal certificate.


Could you call the parishes in the area where they were born and the diocese corresponding to their birthplace? When I got married I was told that each parish is supposed to have an archive with all the people that have been baptized in that parish. If you know they were baptized as infants then odds are it was in a parish close to where they lived. If it seems like they were not baptized as an infant maybe you can find out where they were living when they were baptized and call around there. You could also check with the home parish of the parents of the person just in case they got permission to baptize their child there.


I’m afraid that’s what I’m going to have to do. The problem is the place where this person was born and lived for the first 10 years or so of their lives has 11 catholic churches. I really don’t want to have to bother each of those parishes. Doesn’t every parish keep records of their parishoners in archives even if they don’t attend any more? This person then moved to this area and attended one of 2 or 3 churches. I think I might have better luck if I searched here, if these churches still have records of this person.

Ugh, this is very difficult.


yes it will be time consuming but most of the work, other than the phone calls, will be done by someone else, usually a parish secretary, not by you. Yes every parish has sacramental records going back to its founding. Periodically those records are copied in some form, usually by microfilm, by the diocese for its archives, but typically the only finding aid is the microfilm of the list of names in front of each record book.

If there are 11 parishes, call each one with the name of the person, birthdate, parents names (be sure to include mothers maiden name if known), your reason for the request and your authority for possessing the information. If it is someone still living, they or their parents must apply. When it is found and a notation of the record made for you, you will be asked for a nominal sum, usually $5-10, which in no way covers the actual cost of the search.

If parishes are merged the records of the “old” parishes either stay with the new parish, or are sent to the diocese. If a parish is closed, the records are sent to the diocese.

Also bear in mind that if there are 11 parishes in the town today, at some point there were only one or 2, so if the parish was founded long after the birthdate of your person, that limits your search, and it is worth starting at the oldest parish.

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