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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

Basics of Researching Catholic Marriage Records on Findmypast

Are you trying to research the marriages of your Catholic ancestors in the United States? Findmypast has a US marriage record collection specifically for Catholic records that I can't wait to tell you about.

Which American Catholic Church records are available?

At this time, the church records for the following locations appear on this British-based genealogy website.

  • Baltimore

  • Chicago

  • New York

  • Philadelphia

They promise to be adding new localities within the US in the coming years. So, check back often.

Marriage records are super exciting because they definitely establish relationships between individuals. On Findmypast, some collections extend far back into the past. I found some in 1762 in Pennsylvania. This means these sacramental documents predate the civil registrations for many localities.

How to Access the Church Marriage Records

On the Findmypast, access the top menu bar.

  1. Click on Search.

  2. Click on All Record Sets.

  3. In the left column, filter to the United States.

  4. In the search box, type "Catholic."

  5. Further filter these records by including a location in the "countries, counties, cities" box.

Use Wildcard Searches to Overcome Latinize Names

Try the following wild cards when researching these online marriage records.

  • Use an asterisk to take the place of multiple letters.

  • Use a question mark to replace one letter.

  • Place the asterisks or the question marks anywhere in the name.

  • You can use multiple wildcards in one search.

Since many names become Latinized, wildcards are a must. In this video, I used Krip* for Krippel. I can also use Josep* for Joseph, which might appear as Josephium.

Video: Findmypast Catholic Marriage Records

Screenshot of Roman Catholic Marriage Record in Latin

WARNING: Documents May Be in Latin

Now, when you're working with Catholic records, you have to be aware that many records will be written in Latin. Yay!

Let me know in the comments if you're a Latin fan or of a Latin avoider.

Table of a few Latin terms found on Catholic Baptism Records

What is great about researching now is there are many resources to help you overcome the Latin barrier and start finding your family history.

Grab my cheat sheet of Latin Marriage Terms that you'll want to use for your reference.

What You May Find in Marriage Records?

Marriage records help you solve multiple genealogy research questions, particularly when a wedding occurs and confirmation of a relationship between two persons.

  • Name of the groom.

  • Name of the bride, including her maiden surname.

  • Where the wedding ceremony happened.

  • The date of the ceremony.

  • Who performed the ceremony.

  • Parent's names.

  • Witnesses

  • Grandparents*

  • Previous spouses*

Not every entry will have all of these details. Some have more than what appears above. The benefit to genealogists is significant if we remember to pull out all the details the documents want to share with us.

Things to Think About

While these documents are primary sources for a wedding, you need to evaluate the information contained within carefully. While the parish priest did their best to ensure accuracy in their records, some errors occurred.

When I'm writing a family history about a wedding, I like to include the who performed the ceremony. Such details enrich a story.

Pay attention to the witnesses. Sometimes they are family members or clues to family members. In other instances, they are friends. Always investigate who they are.

Occasionally, the priest recorded the names of the couple's grandparents. Now, not only do you go back to one more generation, but you go back two generations.

How Ne Temere Benefits Genealogists

How many of you want to cross the pond back to other countries?

There are notations in these church records that you're going to want to pay attention to. On Easter of 1908, the priests changed how they kept their records. This is known as Ne Temer.

Ne Temer means priests performing the nuptials had to confirm that the couple was members of the Catholic religion. The father would contact the parishes where the bride and groom said they were baptized. They would ask that church to search their archives for evidence of the baptism.

If the priest couldn't confirm the couple's membership, they would have to convert or marry through a Justice of the Peace. They could not wed in a Catholic Church.

In the explain in the video, Charles Krippel married Mabel in 1884 in Baltimore, Maryland. Charles converted to the church.

Genealogists from Ne Temer because the priests made notes that help researchers trace couples their places of origins.

In the video, an entry highlighted that James was baptized in County Current Keren, Ireland. The family of James can now follow a genealogy research trail back to a specific place in Ireland.

Know the Catholic Church Privacy Rules

Genealogists with Roman Catholic ancestors need to be aware of the privacy restrictions for these records. The Catholic Church restricts access to their sacred rites for 100 years.

If you're searching for documentation of a wedding from 1930, you will have to wait until 2030 to view the documents.

Trace Your Catholic Ancestors

Be sure to add exploring the online Catholic parish records on Findmypast to your genealogy research plans. These marriage records are available through a subscription.

For more tips about research record collections on Findmypast, check out these blog posts.

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