The Archives of the Archdiocese of New York have announced the launch of a digital database of its historical sacramental records dating back to 1785.

The Archives, which serves as the final repository of the Archdiocese’s historical records, has partnered with FindMyPast, an online family archive with over 18 million registered users, to digitize and publish indexes containing over eight million sacramental records. These records will be made available to the public through a centralized database to facilitate family searches, institutional and historical research.

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The launch contains eight million indexes ranging in dates from 1785 to 1918, and subsequent records will be released, annually, ensuring that records published in the database are at least 100 years old, a press release reports.

Archbishop of New York Timothy Cardinal Dolan has said: “It is vitally important to us that we balance this openness with a respect for the privacy of those whose lives are reflected in these records. That is why we have instituted a 100 year privacy rule on all the records we are releasing.”

According to the press release, the time period of the records just released “reflect the evolving boundaries of the Archdiocese of New York and the considerable population growth in the city and neighboring territories in the years leading up to 1918. Today, the Archdiocese of New York, comprises Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, as well as Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester Counties with existing boundaries established in 1853. Prior to 1853, the territory assigned to the Archdiocese of New York was more fluid and, at one point, encompassed all of New York State and parts of Northern New Jersey. As a result of these changes in the late eighteenth, nineteen, and early twentieth centuries, the earliest family records in the database span a much larger territory than that of the archdiocese as it exists today. Additionally, in the early days of the city’s history, civil registration of births and marriages were not as closely regulated, or adhered to, as they are today, which makes this new centralized database of early sacramental records a reliable resource for historical as well as family research purposes.”

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Director of The Archives of the Archdiocese of New York, Kate Feighery, who oversees the project, noted: “As one of the largest immigration hubs in the country, the Catholic roots of many Americans are tied to the Archdiocese of New York. The invaluable historical documents that will be available through the Catholic Heritage Archive will advance not only individual family exploration, but historical research on a much wider scale. We are so pleased to partner with Findmypast to open these records to research for the first time in a centralized location.”

This monumental three-phased digitization project began in March 2017 and is expected to take three years to complete. In the final phase of the project, the complete run of the archdiocese’s newspaper Catholic News, from 1886 through 1981, will also be made available to the public. The newspaper has previously only be available in hardcopy at The Archives of the Archdiocese of New York.

The database can be found at http://archnyarchives.org/genealogy/

 

St Patrick's Cathedral, c. 1931Archives of the Archdiocese of New York