Ohio Roman Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United States
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Location of the United States of America
Record Description
Record Type Church Records
Collection years 1796-2004
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in the Collection?

Ohio became a territory in 1799, although settlers had been coming into the area since the 1700s. It was granted statehood in 1803. The first Catholic settlement in Ohio was founded among the Huron Indian tribes near Sandusky by Father De la Richardie in 1751. The Diocese of Toledo was formed as a separate jurisdiction in 1910. The area was formally a part of the Diocese of Cleveland. The Diocese of Toledo currently includes the counties of Lucas (Toledo), Allen, Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Van West, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot. Because this collection covers time before the formation of the Diocese of Toledo, some nearby areas are included (i.e., parts of Richland, Huron, and Erie, counties). The records included in this collection contain christenings (baptisms), confirmations, marriages, and deaths. They are in English with some records in Latin. An infant’s christening usually took place within a few days or few weeks of the birth. Baptismal records list the name of the child baptized, the child’s parents, and godparents.The sacrament of Confirmation is considered a completion of Baptism and conferred at a later age. Frequently, a person’s age at confirmation was between 14 and 20. These records cover the population of parishioners of the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Toledo (Ohio). The collection includes christenings, confirmations, marriages, and deaths.

Church records are considered a primary source. They are usually reliable because they are kept by the parish priest or pastor, or a clerk appointed by the priest, who usually recorded an event at or very near the time it occurred.

To know who its members were, Roman Catholic churches were required to record the date a person was baptized into the Christian religion. Many churches also recorded the date of birth along with the date of baptism. The churches were also required to record the burial and marriage dates of the members of the local congregation. A local bishop typically did confirmations and the churches recorded the names of those being confirmed.

Entries are recorded in register books in columns or in paragraphs without columns. Records are preserved under varying conditions. Many are subject to deterioration or destruction. Some are well preserved in archives. These records were originally microfilmed by Bowling Green State University. Information about this collection can also be found at the BGSU Center for Archival Collections.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Genealogical information in church christening records is:

  • Birth and christening dates and places
  • Names of parents and children, witnesses and godparents

Genealogical information in church Confirmation records:

  • Names of parents and children
  • Birth and christening dates and places
  • Ages of children confirmed

Genealogical information in church death and burial records is:

  • Names of persons, their parents, spouses and children
  • Birth, death and burial dates and places
  • Ages of persons
  • Places of residence

Genealogical information in church marriage records:

  • Names of grooms and brides, parents and witnesses
  • Birth, marriage, and divorce dates and places
  • Ages of husbands and wives
  • Places of residence

How Do I Search the Collection?

Use christening (baptismal) records to identify a person’s birth date and place. They are an excellent substitute for civil birth information.
Use church records of Confirmations to identify a person’s birth date and place or his or her age. If only the age is given, use it to calculate the person’s birth date.
Use church records of deaths or burials to identify a person’s birth date and place. Use age at death or burial to calculate a person’s birth date. They are an excellent substitute for civil death information.
Use church records of marriages to identify a couple, the marriage date and place, and to begin compiling a family group. They are an excellent substitute for civil marriage information.

What Do I Do Next?

Indexes and transcriptions may not include all the data found in the original records. Look at the actual image of the record, if you can, to verify the information and to find additional information.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Copy the citation below, in case you need to find this record again later.
  • Use the age or estimated birth date to find other church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death records. (Make sure that if it’s a marriage article, you take the word marriage out, if it’s a birth article, take the word birth out, etc.)
  • Use the information found in the record to find land, probate and immigration records.
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in censuses. Witnesses were usually family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records were kept years before counties began keeping records. They are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby town or county.
  • Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Check the info box above for additional FamilySearch websites and related websites that may assist you in finding similar records.

Citing 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:

"Ohio Roman Catholic Church Records." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Catholic Churches, Ohio.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record will be available with each record once the collection is published.


Image citation:

The image citation will be available once the collection is published.
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