26 January 2017

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and Archdiocese of Boston Announce Historic Collaboration: Millions of 18th and 19th Century Sacramental Records To Be Searchable Online

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and Archdiocese of Boston Announce Historic Collaboration:  Millions of 18th and 19th Century Sacramental Records To Be Searchable Online

From our friends at the New England Historic Genealogic Society (NEHGS) …

January 10, 2017—Boston, Massachusetts—New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) have announced a multi-year collaboration to create an online searchable database of millions of sacramental records from over 100 parishes across greater Boston. This is the first time a significant number of sacramental records from any U.S.-based archdiocese has been made available in an online digital format.

The project spans parish records from 1789 to 1900, a period of significant growth for the Catholic Church in Boston and surrounding towns. The records to be digitized predate the founding of the first Catholic Church in Boston. They document several sacraments of the Catholic Church, including baptism, confirmation, holy communion, marriage, holy orders, and the anointing of the sick.

These historic records contain detailed information about the Catholic parishioners of greater Boston, their relationships with each other, their church, and their community. Historians, genealogists, scholars, and the public at large will now have online access to unique data from the Catholic Church’s earliest founding in Boston.

While the project will take several years to complete, images of the oldest records from the earliest parishes are available to browse now—after a free online registration—on AmericanAncestors.org, the award-winning website for NEHGS. Name-searchable records will be available later in the year, and will be accessible with an NEHGS membership.
NEHGS will also be working with the archdiocese to preserve the physical volumes that contain the records, many of which are crumbling from age.

This historic effort to preserve and make accessible the records of Archdiocese of Boston by digitizing them will take several years to complete, depending upon how quickly the project can be fully funded. The New England Historic Genealogical Society is launching a Historic Catholic Records Fund with a $1 million goal to enable philanthropy to support this extraordinary project. Information about contributing to this fund can be found at CatholicRecords.AmericanAncestors.org.

“The Archdiocese of Boston and New England Historic Genealogical Society understand the significance of these records for Catholics, but also for historians and researchers of all backgrounds,” said Cardinal Se├ín P. O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston. “We are grateful for this opportunity to preserve these records for future generations.” The Cardinal also noted that the collaboration will provide indispensable assistance to Catholics by consolidating resources and providing a breadth of information unavailable elsewhere.

You can read the rest of the press release and access related materials here.


Which Catholic Boston-based ancestor do you hope to find in these records?

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