Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925 .
This article describes a collection of records at
Chicago, Illinois, United States
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Location of Illinois
Record Description
Record Type Church Records
Collection years 1833-1925
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
  • Many of the parishes in Chicago have the same name. This link provides you with excellent guidelines to assist you in ascertaining which parish your ancestors may have attended.

What is in the Collection?

The collection contains the following records:

  • Births/Christenings (1833-1899)
  • Deaths/Burials (1845-1899)
  • Marriages (1833-1899)

The Archdiocese of Chicago covers parishes in Cook and Lake counties. The records are 95% in English with the remaining 5% distributed in Czech, Latin, and German.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925.

Collection Content

Sample Images

The baptismal records include:

  • Child's name
  • Birth date and place
  • Christening date
  • Names of parents and their origin
  • Godparents' names

The marriage records include:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of bride and groom
  • Residences of bride and groom
  • Groom's baptismal date
  • Bride's baptismal date
  • Groom's parents' names
  • Bride's parents' names
  • Witnesses' names

The death and burial records include:

  • Date and place of interment
  • Name and age of deceased
  • Residence of deceased
  • Death date
  • Cause of death

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Church records in the United States began in the early 1600s. They can be found in the churches, church archives, or university archives. They normally included records of christenings, confirmations, marriages, and deaths.

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in the world. Traditionally, Catholic records have been kept at the parish level, so a majority of records will be found at the church where the event transpired. Older Catholic records and records of defunct Catholic parishes have often been moved to archives, historical archives, or university libraries.

To know who were members, churches were required to record the date a person was baptized in the Christian religion. Many churches also recorded the date of birth along with the date of baptism. Churches were also required to record the burial and marriage dates of the members of the local congregation. Only some churches performed confirmations and were required to record the names of those that were confirmed members of the church.

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search, you will need to know the following information:

  • Ancestor’s name
  • Type of event, such as the christening or baptism
  • Identifying information such as the approximate date of the event

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select "Parish or Town"
⇒Select "Record Type and Year Range" which takes you to the images.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

With either search keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use christening (baptismal) and birth records to identify a person’s birth date and place. These are an excellent substitute for civil birth records.
  • Use confirmation records to identify a person’s birth date and place and age. If only the age is given, use it to calculate the person’s death date.
  • Use death or burial records to identify a person’s birth date and place. Use age at the time of death or burial to calculate the person’s birth date. These are an excellent substitute for civil death records.
  • Use marriage records to identify a couple and the marriage date and place and to begin compiling a family group. These are an excellent substitute for civil marriage records.
  • Use church records in general to identify other family members who may have served as witnesses to an event.
  • Use the date of the event along with the locality to find the family in census records and land records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all children with the same parents. Or, if the surname is unusual, you may want to compile entries for every person of the same surname and then sort them into families based on the names of the parents. Continue to search the birth records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who were born in the same county or nearby.
  • An infant’s christening usually took place within a few days or few weeks of the birth, depending on the religion. Some churches, such as the Baptists, baptized only adults not infants. Members of other sects blessed their infants when they were a few weeks or a few months old.
  • Many religions tested the church knowledge of those that had been baptized as infants and then confirmed them a member of that religion. Frequently, a person’s age at confirmation was between 14 and 20.
  • Church records are considered a primary source. They are usually reliable because they are kept by the minister, or a clerk appointed by the minister, who usually recorded an event at or very near the time it occurred.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names or for nicknames.
  • Check the records of other congregations in the area or nearby communities.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citations for This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925."Database with images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Catholic Church parishes, Chicago Diocese, Chicago.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925.

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