Genealogy

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The Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary & University has developed a genealogical policy responsive to individuals researching their Catholic roots. Researchers now have a choice of scheduling an on-site visit to the archives or submitting a written request.

Resources Services
Sacramental Records On-Site Research
Sacramental Registers on Microfilm Requests
Other Types of Records Genealogical Policy
Helpful Information Sacramental Records Request Form

Sacramental Records

If you need an official copy of your own baptismal or marriage certificate, please see the Research and Reference page for instructions on how to request one.

What We Do and Do Not Have
We only have records for the parishes within the current boundaries of the Archdiocese of Baltimore (est. 1789), which is comprised of the following counties: Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, and Washington. Records for parishes that now comprise the Archdiocese of Washington, DC (est. 1939), Diocese of Wilmington, DE (est. 1868), Diocese of Richmond (est. 1820), and Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (est. 1850) can only be accessed through those respective dioceses.

Individuals interested in the sacramental records that have survived from the colonial and Revolutionary periods in Maryland will need to contact the Special Collections Research Center in the Joseph Mark Lauinger Library at Georgetown University, where the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus are housed. The Jesuits were in charge of the mission to Catholics in the British colonies of North America. Please note that very few records have survived for these periods and none prior to 1759. The majority of these records have been transcribed and published in Edwin Beitzell’s The Jesuit Missions of St. Mary’s County (rev. ed.; priv. publ., 1976), Timothy O’Rourke’s Catholic Families of Southern Maryland: Records of Catholic Residents of St. Mary’s County in the Eighteenth Century (Baltimore: Genealogical Publ. Co., 1985) and Colonial Source Records: Southern Maryland Catholic Families (Parsons, KS: Brefney Press, 1981), and F. Edward Wright’s Vital Records of the Jesuit Missions of the Eastern Shore, 1760-1800 (Silver Spring, MD: Family Line Publications, 1986). For those individuals researching their African American ancestors, an excellent resource is Agnes Kane Callum’s Flowers of the Forest: Black Genealogical Journal (1982-1998), which has published surviving sacramental records for African Americans from these two periods. The Maryland Historical Society has this journal in its library.

Resources currently available online for colonial records:

Timothy J. O’Rourke’s Catholic Families of Southern Maryland, reprint (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2003). Limited Preview

Christina K. Schaefer’s Genealogical Encyclopedia of the Colonial Americas (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2000). Limited preview

The Archdiocese’s earliest records are those for St. Peter’s pro-Cathedral (1770-1841) in Baltimore City and date back to 1782. These records have been transcribed and published by Mary and Stanley Piet as Early Catholic Church Records in Baltimore, Maryland, 1782-1800 (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1989). Also see Hans Grogaard and Mary Warfield, comp., Burials in Pro-Cathedral and Cathedral Cemeteries, Baltimore Maryland, 1791-1874 (Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, 2004). African American records have been published in Callum’s Flowers of the Forest described above. For information on other Maryland church and civil records that have been published, visit the Heritage Books website.

Individuals interested in the sacramental records that have survived from the early republic and early national periods for parishes outside the current boundaries of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will need to contact the diocese responsible for that territory today for assistance. The Archdiocese does not have any sacramental records for parishes outside of its current boundaries in its holdings.

In the absence of sacramental records, civil records are another resource for researching your family’s history. For example, county clerks in the state of Maryland have been required to issue marriage licenses since 1777 and court clerks have been required to record marriages by banns since 1890. The Maryland State Archives has created a number of indices to assist researchers who are interested in consulting these records. Another helpful resource is Edna Kanely’s Directory of Ministers and the Maryland Churches They Served, 1634-1990 (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1991), 2 vols.

Restrictions on Sacramental Records

According to the policy approved by the Archbishop of Baltimore, access to records of Baptism shall coincide with access to Federal Census records (current year minus 70). Baptismal records 70 years old and less are closed to the public. No restrictions apply to records of First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Death, Interment or Burial.

Information contained in the records:

  1. Baptism: dates of birth and baptism; name of child; names of parents, sponsors (godparents), and officiating priest.
  2. First Communion and Confirmation: date of first communion or confirmation; name of child and officiating priest or bishop. Please note that parishes are not required under canon law to maintain first communion registers, although many do.
  3. Marriage: date of marriage; names of parties being married and places they are from, names of parties’ parents; names of official witnesses, and name of officiating priest.
  4. Death, Interment, or Burial: name and age of deceased; dates of death and burial; cause of death; place of burial; and name of officiating priest.

NOTE: Variations in the spelling of surnames are quite common. It is recommended that you look under any possible spelling variation when searching the records.

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Sacramental Registers on Microfilm

Efforts to microfilm the sacramental registers of the parishes that comprise the Archdiocese of Baltimore have been undertaken twice in the past seventy years. The first attempt was made in 1954 at the request of Archbishop Francis P. Keough. The Maryland State Archives initiated a second attempt beginning in 1977. A majority of the parishes participated in the first microfilming project. Less than half participated in the second. To see a list of all of the parishes that participated in one or both of the microfilming projects, please click here. The list has been organized first by county, second by city or town name, and third by parish name. Parish establishment date and the name of the microfilm collection have also been listed.

The Maryland State Archives has begun to digitize the vital records it has on microfilm. Sacramental registers of the following Catholic parishes can be viewed online through the Maryland State Archives website. Search for the parish by name. Registers that have been digitized will be hyperlinked. A password provided by the State Archives is required to view the material online.

Parish Name Est. Date City
St. Alphonsus 1845 Baltimore
St. Francis Xavier/St. Paul 1863/1888 Baltimore
St. Ignatius 1853 Baltimore
St. James the Less 1834 Baltimore
St. John the Evangelist 1853 Baltimore
St. Joseph 1793 Emmitsburg
St. Mary Star of the Sea 1868 Baltimore
St. Michael 1852 Frostburg
St. Patrick 1790 Cumberland
SS. Philip and James 1897 Baltimore
St. Wenceslaus 1872 Baltimore
St. Vincent de Paul 1841 Baltimore
Holy Cross Cemetery (closed) 1863 Baltimore

Microfilm copies of the registers microfilmed by the Maryland State Archives are available for researchers to work with at the Maryland State Archives and the Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. The Maryland Historical Society has acquired copies of the Maryland State Archives’ microfilm for the following parishes: Baltimore City – Basilica of the Assumption, St. Peter’s Pro-Cathedral, Holy Cross, Immaculate Conception, Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Alphonsus, St. Ann, St. Francis Xavier, St. James the Less, St. John German, St. John the Evangelist, St. Mary Star of the Sea, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Patrick, St. Peter the Apostle, and St. Stanislaus; Outside Baltimore City – Mt. St. Mary’s/St. Mary’s of the Mountain, Emmitsburg, St. Augustine, Elkridge, St. Ignatius, Hickory, St. John the Evangelist, Frederick, St. John the Evangelist, Hydes/Long Green, St. Mary of the Mills, Laurel, St. Michael, Frostburg, and St. Mary of the Annunciation, Lonaconing.

The Maryland Historical Society also has acquired the microfilm for a number of Maryland parishes located in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the Diocese of Wilmington. Please check their online catalog for a complete listing.

The sacramental registers microfilmed by the Archdiocese are available for researchers to work with only at the Associated Archives. Parishes that do not appear on the list will have to be contacted directly. Click here for current parish contact information.

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On-Site Research

You are welcome to visit the Archives by appointment to examine the sacramental registers we have on microfilm and consult the resource and reference material we have compiled for genealogists. Reference staff is also available to assist patrons. Please click here for information on how to schedule an appointment. Appointments are available to family historians on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. There is a $10.00 Reading Room fee for each patron.

Requests

If you are unable to visit the Archives in person, we do provide limited genealogical services. Fees, services, required and helpful information are outlined below. Please click on the link below.

All genealogical requests must be submitted in writing. We DO NOT take genealogical requests over the telephone. You have the choice of submitting a sacramental records request form or a written request. Please click on the Contacts link for address information.

Genealogical Policy
Sacramental Records Request Form

Fees:

  1. Research fees are charged on an hourly rate. The charge is $30.00 for the first hour and $30.00 for each additional hour up to 3 hours total. A check or money order for $30.00 made payable to “Associated Archives at SMSU” must accompany the research request. The hourly fee will cover research on any number of ancestors an individual wishes to research. NOTE: Do not send more than $30.00 with the initial request. If the request requires more than one hour to complete, the researcher will be billed for any additional fees. If you wish to time limit the time spent researching your request to 1 hour, please indicate such information in the initial request. The normal response to genealogical inquiries is either an abstract from the register or a photocopy of the record from the microfilm. Genealogical copies of sacramental certificates are available for $5.00 per certificate.
  2. There is a charge of $10.00 per certificate when the researcher only requests a genealogical copy of a sacramental certificate and can provide an approximate date and name of the church where the sacrament was performed.

Required Information

Because there is no central name index, we will need the following information before we can examine the records:

1. Parish in which the sacrament was administered or name of the officiating priest. If you do not know the name of the parish but have a local address, we may be able to identify the parish where the sacrament was administered from this information. In some instances the name of the town will suffice (excluding Baltimore City). If you do not have a local address, you can find this information from two sources: 1) a city/town directory and 2) federal census records. Online resources for Maryland directories are available through the Maryland State Archives and the University of Maryland. A complete set of Baltimore City Directories is also available in the Maryland Department at the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201) together with many other helpful resources. If your family lived outside of Baltimore City, contact the local public library of that community for information on their directory collection. Address information can also be found in the Federal Census Records available online through the Maryland State Archives. Please note that Baltimore City renumbered its street addresses in 1886. If you are looking for a family member’s address prior to 1886, remember to also consult the 1887 Baltimore City Directory, which has a conversion chart, to learn the new number assigned to the old street address.

1877 Baltimore City Wards and Parishes

If you are trying to locate the names of parishes located within the different wards of Baltimore City, the Archives has prepared a list based on an 1877 ward map of Baltimore City. Please click on the above link to see a copy of this list.

National Parishes

The Archdiocese has had a number of national parishes over the course of its history. A national or ethnic parish is established to serve the needs of a particular ethnic group, especially that of language. Immigrants and the children of immigrants frequently attended national parishes when they were available. To see a list of the national parishes established within the Archdiocese’s current territorial boundaries, please click on the above link.

2. Date sacrament was administered.

3. Name(s) of individual(s) receiving the sacrament.

Please note that the Associated Archives only has the sacramental records for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. We do not have government records (such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, etc.), records from other Roman Catholic dioceses or religious denominations.

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Other Types of Records

Student Records

Archdiocesan Schools
Individuals interested in obtaining a copy of their student transcript should contact the elementary, middle, or secondary school directly if it is still open. If the school has been closed but the parish is still open, contact the parish for assistance. (Click here to search for school and parish contact information.)

Please note that in accordance with Maryland State law, the Archdiocese is not required to maintain the records for closed elementary schools.

The records for the following closed schools are maintained by the Maryland State Department of Education: The Cardinal Gibbons School, Baltimore, Mt. St. Agnes High School, Baltimore, St. Andrew’s Business School, Baltimore, St. Martin’s High School, Baltimore, St. Michael the Archangel Business School for Girls, Baltimore, St. Michael the Archangel High School, Baltimore, St. Paul’s Commercial School, Baltimore, and Trinity Preparatory School, Ellicott City. Individuals interested in obatining a copy of their student transcript should contact the Nonpublic Schools Approval Branch of the Maryland State Department of Education directly for assistance.

If you are interested in the records of a private school that has been closed, contact the religious community that ran the school directly for assistance:

Men’s Religious Communities
Women’s Religious Communities

Individuals interested in post-secondary school records will need to contact the institution’s Registrar’s Office directly.

Sulpician Schools in Maryland
Student records for St. Charles College (1848-1969), the Liberal Arts College of St. Mary’s Seminary & University (1969-1977), and St. Mary’s Seminary & University (est. 1791) are maintained by St. Mary’s Seminary & University and are closed. If you are an alumnus interested in obtaining an official copy of your transcript, please send a fax or letter (no e-mails) with name, date of birth, address to which transcript should be sent, and signature to:

Registrar, St. Mary’s Seminary & University
5400 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21210
Fax: 410-864-4205.

Note: St. Mary’s Seminary & University has designated certain information contained in the records of its students as “Family History Information.” This includes: 1) full name, 2) date and place of birth and/or baptism, 3) parents’ names and place and date of marriage; 4) siblings’ names; 5) education; 6) sponsoring diocese; 7) date and place of ordination; 8) other similar information such as a photograph. Family History Information will be disclosed for deceased students only. Permission of a person authorized by St. Mary’s Seminary & University is required for access to Family History Information within 50 years of a student’s death. After 50 years there is no restriction on access to this information. If you are interested in obtaining information on students that attended a Sulpician school in Maryland, including St. Mary’s College (1799-1852), for your family history, please submit your request in writing to the Associated Archives, providing as much information as you can on the student (ex., full name, place and/or date of birth, approximate years attended) along with your questions. There is a $10.00 research fee for each name submitted.

Family History Information Request Form

We have made available student lists that were prepared for each of the above institutions at different points in their history. Please click on the appropriate link to access the list as a .pdf document.

St. Charles College, 1848-1897
Information on students is organized by year of enrollment. An alphabetical index of names can be found at the end. (Note: The original campus of St. Charles College was destroyed by fire in 1911, including its records. This student list is the source for information on students who attended the college during the pre-1911 period.)

St. Mary’s Seminary & University, 1791-1916
This is a list of students who completed their studies at the seminary and were ordained. Students who departed the program before ordination were not included. The following information is listed: student name, sponsoring diocese, ordaining bishop, and date of ordination.

St. Mary’s College, 1799-1852
Information on students is organized by year of enrollment and was compiled from surviving records for the college. The list is not comprehensive, but is the most complete one to exist.

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Orphanage and Medical Records

The Archives does not maintain the records for any of the orphanages that operated in the Archdiocese. The records for the following orphanages were transferred to Associated Catholic Charities when they were closed: St. Anthony’s Orphan Asylum (1854-1943), St. Elizabeth’s Home for Colored Infants and Children (1881-1960), St. Francis Orphanage for Colored Children (1889-1950), St. James Home for Boys (1878-1949), St. Mary’s Female Orphan Asylum (1818-1960), St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys (1866-1950), and St. Vincent’s Infant Home (1856-1960), . Individuals interested in obtaining information from these records will need to contact Associated Catholic Charities directly to request assistance (Records, Center for Family Services, Associated Catholic Charities, 2601 N. Howard Street, Ste. 200, Baltimore, MD 21218). These records are not open to researchers. Please submit all requests in writing.

Individuals interested in the records of orphanages operated in what is now the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., will need to contact the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., directly. Surviving records for the following orphanages are located at The Catholic University of America: St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum (1825-1968) and St. Rose’s Industrial Home for Girls (1868-1946).

For information on all other orphanages, please contact the Archives and we will try to assist you in locating the records.

The Archives does not have medical records for any of the hospitals or clinics operated in the Archdiocese. Individuals will need to contact the hospital or clinic directly to request assistance.

Marriage Tribunal Records

The Archives does not have any records relating to annulments. All records of annulments are held by the Marriage Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 320 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD, 21201, 410-576-6920. Records of the Marriage Tribunal are not available for genealogical investigation under any circumstances.

Death Certificates

The Catholic Church does not issue death certificates. This right is reserved to the state alone. Parishes maintain death or burial registers, which record the date of death, date and place of burial, and cause of death. A copy of the information recorded in a death or burial register is not recognized as an official record of death. To request a copy of a death certificate, you will need to contact the Maryland State Office of Vital Statistics Administration (post-1969 at 410-764-3038 or 800-832-3277) or the Maryland State Archives (pre-1969 at 410-260-6400). For information on the Vital Records Indexing Project sponsored by the Maryland State Archives, click here.

Cemetery Records

Parish cemetery records are maintained at the parish level. Click here for a list of the cemeteries operated in the Archdiocese. If the parish cemetery you are interested in has closed, click here for information the Archives has compiled on closed cemeteries. If the cemetery you are interested in does not appear on the list, please contact the parish or the Archives directly for information.

New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore: The cemetery records of New Cathedral Cemetery, 1871-1977, have been microfilmed and are available for researchers to work with at the Associated Archives and the Maryland Historical Society. You may also contact New Cathedral Cemetery (4300 Old Frederick Road, Baltimore, MD, 21229; 410-566-7770) for assistance with your request.

St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery, Baltimore: The Maryland State Archives has in its holdings the Franke Collection of St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery Records, which contains an index of individuals buried in the cemetery and reproductions of surviving cemetery records.

If you are uncertain where the person you are searching for is buried, Find a Grave is a searchable online database with information on cemeteries around the country.

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Helpful Information

• Guides on how to read Latin baptismal and marriage records:

Baptismal Record
Marriage Record

• Catholic Directory Collection

A directory on the Catholic Church in the United States has been published annually since 1833.* The directory has had several publishers and titles over the course of its history, including the Catholic Almanac or, the Laity’s Directory, the Metropolitan Catholic Calendar & Laity’s Directory, and Sadlier’s Catholic directory, ordo and almanac. Since 1912 it has held the title of the Official Catholic Directory and is published by P.J. Kenedy & Sons. Useful information found in the directory, which is organized by diocese, includes the names, addresses, and establishment dates of parishes and an annual list of clergy serving in the U.S. Directories can be found in most diocesan and religious archives, including the Associated Archives, and at Catholic institutions of higher learning. Check Google Books for editions that have been digitized.

*: Except for the years 1862-1863, due to the Civil War.

• Archdiocese of Baltimore History Resources Online

The Catholic Red Book of Western Maryland (Baltimore: The Red Book Society, 1909).

Thomas J. Stanton’s A Century of Growth: or, the history of the Catholic Church in Western Maryland, vol. 1 (Baltimore: John Murphy Co., 1900)

• Maryland Resources Online

The Maryland State Archives has developed many resources for individuals researching their Maryland ancestors. We recommend that you visit their website to learn not only what local records are available for researchers, but for suggestions on how to get started in your research: Guide to Family History Research in Maryland.

FamilySearch.org has made available through their website a number of free family history and genealogy records for Maryland, including: Deaths and Burials, 1877-1992; Marriages, 1666-1970; Civil War Service Records of Union and Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865; Naturalization Indexes, 1797-1951; and Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940.

The Maryland Historical Society and the Maryland Genealogical Society also have many helpful resources for researching one’s family history.

• Other helpful websites include:

National Archives and Records Administration

Enoch Pratt Free Library

Rootsweb – General

Roots Web – Baltimore City

Archaic Medical terms

Ecclesiastical Calendar

Latin terms

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