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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bill Bennett, VP Marketing from FindMyPast, spoke on Friday morning at RootsTech and unveiled their new project: Catholic Heritage Archive.  This amazing record set was previewed on stage, and you can find the full press release below. 

They are working with various archdiocese in the United Sates and the UK to digitize and preserve the records of the Catholic church which most times are locked in a parish hall.  Access can be hard, if near impossible and for those who have Catholic Roots there is hope for those elusive records to show lineage and relationships to our past. 

In my Interview later that day with Bill he said they are starting with larger dioceses and then moving into smaller parishes.  Most exciting is that you will be able to browse images free online through FindMyPast.  You will only have to use credits if you want to use the index.  I also loved hearing that the churches and diocese who let them digitize records will also have full access to their own collections.  This will be a boon to researchers who can travel to their family churches.

Also touched on during the morning session was that thanks to their association with the Pennsylvania Historical Society there are now over 3 million PA records online.  This large project is nearly concluded with hundreds of thousands of vital records and unusual manuscript collections digitized.  Births, marriages, deaths, congregational records, military records, and more are now available to search.

Finally the US marriage record collection is wrapping up.  As Bill stated in our interview they were saving the best for last.  The records which are being uploaded in this final push are the most unique of all.  Oh, and only found on FindMyPast!  We will have to check them out.

FindMyPast Official Press Release: 

FindMyPast announces plans to create the most comprehensive collection of Roman Catholic sacramental registers for the United States, Britain and Ireland
When complete, this exclusive collection will contain over 100 million records spanning 300 years of Catholic history

Millions of exclusive Catholic records published online with more coming soon
Findmypast also announces new additions to the ambitious United States Marriages project
Release marks significant expansion of Findmypast's US data collection

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.

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