Parish and Vital Records List

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How the Parish and Vital Records List can help you

The Parish and Vital Records List (on microfiche) is a guide to some of the most useful and easy-to-use records in the Family History Library.

It is a list of church and government records:

  • From 67 countries. (Look for the place and time your ancestor lived.)
  • That have vital ancestor information.
  • That have been indexed (extracted).

Most indexes:

  • Give key birth, christening, marriage, or census information.
  • List people in the record alphabetically by surname.
  • Will help you find your ancestor on the original source record. This eliminates page- by-page searching of a microfilm. (Look for the index first; then look for the original source record.)

Names from some of these records are listed in the International Genealogical Index.

If you do not find a record in the list, look in the FamilySearch Catalog for records for the place and time you need.

How to copy pages of the Parish and Vital Records List

You may use a microfiche printer to copy pages of the list. If no printer is available, you can order a copy from the Family History Library for a small fee by filling out a Request for Photocopies: Census Records, Books, Microfilm, or Microfiche order form. If you need assistance, ask a family history center staff member for help.

How to find more information on the Parish and Vital Records List

  • See the introduction at the front of the list.
  • See section U of the International Genealogical Index microfiche.

How to use the Parish and Vital Records List

  • Decide which geographic area and time period you need to search.
  • Locate the Parish and Vital Records List microfiche in the Family History Library or the Family History Center. (This microfiche is usually near the International Genealogical Index microfiche.)
  • Follow the three steps below.

Step 1. Find the microfiche you need.

  • The records are listed alphabetically by country.
  • Most countries are subdivided into counties, states, or provinces.
  • The heading at the top of each microfiche lists the date the microfiche was published; abbreviations for the first and last county, state, or province; and the first and last country.
Microfiche heading on the Parish and Vital Records List

Fiche example (This is a microfiche heading on the Parish and Vital Records List. The microfiche lists extracted records for Scotland, Singapore, and part of Spain. Only the first and last countries are shown in the heading.)

Step 2. Find the desired geographic area on the microfiche.

  • Find the country in the top left corner of each microfiche page.
  • If either the United States, Canada, or Germany is listed, find the state or province listed underneath the country.
  • Then find the county. If you do not know what county a town is in, refer to a gazetteer. Look this term up in the glossary., or ask a staff member for help. (See the example below.)

PVRL example shows records from Adams County, Pennsylvania, USA

Column 1 Name of country (or county, state, or province for the United States, Canada, or Germany), which will be listed in alphabetical order. (County names are usually abbreviated and alphabetized according to the abbreviation.)
Column 2 Parish, town, or city of the records, listed alphabetically.
Column 3 Time period of record.
Column 4 Type of record: BIR - Birth, CHR - Christening, MAR - Marriage, BUR - Burial, DEA - Death, CEN - Census
Column 5 Computer printout call number.Use this number to find or order the index.
Column 6 The batch number of the extraction project.
Column 7 The Family History Library™ number for the source record (a microfilm, microfiche, or book). Use this number to find or order the source record.

This page from the Parish and Vital Records List shows records from Adams County in Pennsylvania, USA.

Step 3. Note the records you need.

  • Write down the numbers for both the index (the printout call number in column 5) and for the original record (the source call number in column 7) that you want to search.
  • If you need assistance ordering these records, ask a staff member for help.

Exceptions

The information in the following records is listed differently from that above

  • Irish Civil Registration Records. These countrywide records are listed at the beginning of the Irish records. The words birth and marriage are listed, instead of the county.
  • U.S. State Indexes. For Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Vermont, the word index is listed in column 1 instead of the word county. For Hawaii, column 1 is blank. All indexes are listed by state only.
  • British Parish Records (church records). Most parishes in the Church of England copied their parish registers (PRS) and sent them to the bishop of the diocese. These copies were called bishop's transcripts (BTS). When a parish register was unavailable or incomplete, the bishop's transcript was extracted. For each given set of years, the percentage of names extracted from the bishop's transcripts is given (such as "BTS 85%"). If both the parish register and the bishop's transcripts were extracted, PRS and BTS are both listed.

Some parish records may not be listed by parish name but by another locality name. If a parish is not listed, look in the FamilySearch Catalog for the correct film number.