Tuesday 10 January 2017

NEHGS launches Historic Catholic Records Online

As announced in my December teaser blogpost, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has launched Boston's Historic Catholic Records Online project.

The project, which has been two years in preparation, is a collaboration with the Archdiocese of Boston and will see more than 10million sacramental records dating from 1789 to 1900 from over 150 parishes of Greater Boston go online.

Initially, the online database will consist only of images. The first upload available to browse include Boston's four oldest parish records, including those from Holy Cross Cathedral and Holy Trinity, which have the oldest and most fragile registers. These are also the registers in which it's hardest to locate individuals by name. While these digitised records will not be searchable until a later date; completion of the entire project of 937 fully indexed and scanned registers is expected to take 'several' years. The pace of digitisation will be subject to philanthropy and the funding goal is $1million.

While the digitisation process has not yet extended to a searchable index, if you know the parish and rough years of the name you are looking for, you may be able to find it through an index at the beginning of each register volume. However, the method varies across the volumes. An online tutorial has been published to help researchers locate records in this unique collection. The records themselves can be searched from the project page (or click the image).

A dedicated channel of the NEHGS website provides further details of the development of the project as well as historical context to the period covered by the records has also been launched. You can find it at https://catholicrecords.americanancestors.org/