Roman Catholic Church in the United States
History in United States
The first major group of Roman Catholics to live in what is now the United States started a colony in Florida in 1565. Beginning in 1598 Roman Catholics also began to settle areas that are now states along the Mexican border. Other Roman Catholics from England settled in colonial Maryland before 1649. Louisiana was settled by Spanish and French-Canadian Catholics in the 1700's. By 1850 the Catholic Church had the largest church membership in the United States. Much of this growth was due to immigration of Catholics from Ireland and other countries. In the late nineteenth century, millions of Roman Catholic immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe. In addition, most Hispanic immigrants also belonged to the Catholic Church. The largest Catholic groups settled in major cities.
For a more complete history of the Catholic Church in the United States.
Catholic Church Records
Types of Church Records
- Baptism records: includes date of baptism and birth, parents names including the mother's maiden name, parish where the family is residing, legitimacy of the child, godparents names.
- Confirmation records: in most cases about the age of 13 or 14, but also known to be at the age of 7.
- Marriage records: includes date and place of marriage, names of the bride and groom, names of both sets of parents, including the mother's maiden name.
- Death and Burial records: includes name of the deceased and date of death and burial. Often includes the names of surviving spouse or parents, cause of death and age at death.
Where they are Located
Records of most parishes are kept in the individual parishes or in diocese offices. Guides to dioceses and parishes are:
- Official Catholic Directory. Wilmette, Illinois: P. J. Kennedy and Sons, annual. (Family History Library book 282.025 Of2.)
- Humling, Virginia. U.S. Catholic Sources: A Diocesan Research Guide. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, 1995. (Family History Library book 973 K2hu.)
For older North American church records kept by priests of the Order of the Holy Cross contact:
- Holy Cross Provincial Archives
P.O. Box 568
South Bend, IN 46556
Catholic Church Records Online
Early United States French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954: Found in the Drouin Collection on www.Ancestry.ca.
This database only contains the French Catholic parish records from the United States; in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church, and so on. They are written mainly in French, as well as English, Latin, and Italian.