Historic Catholic Records Online
NEHGS and the Boston Archdiocese partner to digitize parish records from 1789-1920
Since 2016, the Archdiocese of Boston and the New England Historic Genealogical Society have been working together to digitize the sacramental records of the Archdiocese of Boston. We initially announced we would digitize records from 1789-1900. We are now expanding the reach of the project through 1920.
How to access the parish records
To access free images of the Boston Archdiocese parish records, you will need to register (it's free) as a Guest Member. Guest Members are able to search several AmericanAncestors.org databases, and are also able to read, watch and download helpful educational materials on family history. Once you’ve registered as a guest, you may want to watch an instructional video on navigating our database, Massachusetts: (Image-Only) Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records, 1789-1920.
Already a member?
If you already have an account on AmericanAncestors.org, just sign in and start exploring the records! An instructional video for how to browse images is available on the project's companion website, CatholicRecords.AmericanAncestors.org.
About the Historic Catholic Records Online Project
The New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston have announced a multi-year collaboration to create an online searchable database of millions of sacramental records from over 100 parishes across greater Boston. This is the first time a significant number of sacramental records from any U.S.-based archdiocese have been made available in an online digital format.
The initial scope of the project spanned from 1789 to 1900, a period of significant growth for the Catholic Church in Boston and surrounding towns, beginning with the founding of Boston’s first Catholic parish—the Cathedral of the Holy Cross—in 1788. The records to be digitized document several sacraments of the Catholic Church, including baptism, confirmation, holy communion, marriage, holy orders, and the anointing of the sick.
These historic records contain detailed information about the Catholic parishioners of greater Boston, their relationships with each other, their church, and their community. Historians, genealogists, scholars, and the public at large will now have online access to unique data from the Catholic Church’s earliest founding in Boston.
Scanning for Phase 1 of the project (1789-1900) is wrapping up in 2019. We hope to complete the indexing portion of this project in the next several years. Phase 2 (1901-1920) will double the scope of the project. Images from Phase 1 and some newer parishes are available to browse now—after a free online registration—on AmericanAncestors.org. Searchable records are also accessible to search with a full NEHGS membership. This is a continuing work in progress with more data available every month. Stay updated on project updates on our blog, Database News.
NEHGS will also be working with the Archdiocese to preserve the physical volumes that contain the records, many of which are crumbling from age.
This historic effort to preserve and make accessible the records of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is projected to cost nearly $2 million in total. Contributions to NEHGS to support the preservation, digitization, and indexing of church records will be critical to completing the project and allowing this extraordinary history to be made publicly available.