Sacramental Records of the Catholic Church
There are no centralized records of any kind maintained by the Diocese of Toledo that would permit searching for sacramental information by a person’s name alone. Records are generally maintained by each parish or institution individually.
As long as a parish is open, it is responsible for issuing sacramental certificates upon request. The Archives Office has microfilm of the sacramental records of all parishes in the Diocese dating from each parish’s inception through 2001 but is considered the central repository for the records of closed churches only.
In attempting to locate a baptism record, the name of the church is of utmost importance. Without a specific church name, finding records will be considerably more time-consuming and, for parishes within the City of Toledo, practically impossible. If the church name is unknown, then the home address of the person at the time of baptism, or the nearest large cross streets, can be extremely helpful. If a person is seeking his or her baptismal church located in an Ohio city outside the Diocese of Toledo, the Archives can assist you in determining in which diocese that church is located and can provide the address and phone number of the proper diocesan office to contact.
Another way to pinpoint the church of baptism is through other sacramental records, i.e. First Communion or Marriage. Many times, the name of the church of baptism is recorded in the registry of these other sacraments. Again, if the reception of other sacraments occurred outside the Toledo Diocese or outside Ohio, the Archives can provide assistance in researching the address and telephone of that church.
Every person has the right to be furnished with an authenticated certificate of their own sacramental record(s) [see Issuance of Records below]. These same records, however, are not only of value to those persons actually included in the church registers. They also have tremendous value as “primary source” material for historical, genealogical, sociological and demographic research. Access to sacramental records may be allowed for these reasons, provided that the rules governing access are observed to ensure the legitimate right of privacy of those persons named in the registers.
The passing of time has a critical impact on the sensitivity of most records. As current events will one day become historical events, the need for withholding records from use is gradually reduced and, in some cases, may disappear entirely. For this reason, older records may be more widely available to researchers, while more recent records require more restricted access rules. It is the responsibility of the Diocese of Toledo, acting through the pastors of the various parishes, to supervise how these records are used, by whom and for what purposes. The following are brief summations of the current rules governing access for sacramental records in the Diocese of Toledo.
Sacramental Records up to and including 1930
The present cutoff date for unrestricted access to sacramental records is 1930.
The Diocese of Toledo has established a relationship with the Center for Archival Collections in the Jerome Library at Bowling Green State University and the Local History Department of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library for genealogical access to the microfilmed registries of parish sacramental records. The Jerome Library has a microfilm collection of the original parish sacramental registries for all parishes in the Toledo Diocese. The downtown/Main branch of the Toledo Library has a microfilm collection of only the City of Toledo parish registries. Both locations allow access to these records within the established cutoff date.
The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS/Mormons) is also in possession of a set of these microfilmed records. Researchers are welcome to contact any LDS church for access to these microfilms.
The website service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is https://www.familysearch.org
. Instructions: Choose "Browse by location". Select "USA, Canada and Mexico". Find this listing: Ohio, Diocese of Toledo, Catholic Parish Records, 1796-2004.
Of course, the Archives Office has a complete collection of these microfilmed records as well. Anyone is allowed access to the unrestricted microfilm records within normal Archive operating hours which currently are Monday through Friday between 1 and 5 pm. It is necessary to call ahead for an appointment. These hours are subject to change without notice. Thus, researchers are encouraged to try the library sources since their hours are less restricted.
Since all sacramental records are available on microfilm, researchers are NOT permitted to handle the original registers (the original registers for closed parishes only are maintained in the archives) under any circumstances. Pastors are dissuaded from allowing the general public to view church records and are asked to redirect researchers to either the Archives Office or one of the two local institutions in possession of the microfilmed records. The microfilmed records at all locations are exact duplicates of those in the Archives and contain neither more nor less information than can be found in the original books.
Sacramental Records from 1930 to present
Such records are not open to examination by the general public. Only authorized Diocesan or parish personnel may view them. An individual seeking his or her own sacramental record for either a church or civil purpose may obtain a certificate as needed. All persons requesting a certificate from an operating parish will be referred to that parish with a few exceptions.
Sacramental records may be used for statistical, quantitative research for certain scholarly projects. Prior approval from the Chancery is required.
Only death records are not subject to any type of restriction.
The Diocese is in possession of a number of original records from St. Anthony’s Villa and Orphanage that date back into the mid-1800’s. Information prior to 1930 is available to researchers but only by transcription. The original records have not been microfilmed, are in brittle shape and are not, under any circumstances, accessible by the general public.
In the case of sacramental records that may concern an adoption, the Archives cannot reveal the names of the natural/biological parents. No certificate issued by either the Archives or any individual parish will contain this information.
Issuance of Certificates
A person’s baptism record is intended to serve as a kind of “master record” of that person’s life as a member of the Catholic Church. Before receiving any sacrament – First Communion, Confirmation or Marriage – proof of baptism is generally required in the form of a certificate with a raised seal on it. As other sacraments are received during the course of a person’s life, that information should be passed along to the church of baptism for inclusion in that person’s baptismal entry.
The Diocese of Toledo has adopted a policy regarding the issuance of baptism certificates that is founded in Canon 486-491. That policy states:
In issuing Certificates of Baptism: (a) on the occasion of marriage, entrance into a seminary or institute or society of religious or apostolic life, the pastor, parochial vicar or the delegate of the pastor is to copy the complete record on the approved form which provides for the original record with all its added notations. This complete record is to be sent directly to the proper authority concerned. The document is not to be given to the person baptized or any other person. (b) On all other occasions, the pastor, parochial vicar or the delegate of the pastor is to use the approved form which states merely that the person was baptized, and give the person’s name, date of baptism and the name of the minister, omits any mention of parentage or names of sponsors. In a case of adoption the person’s natural name is to be omitted and only the name given by adoption is to be used.
To obtain a baptism certificate from the Archives Office, call or e-mail the office. In either case, identify yourself, the reason for requesting the certificate, and, if not for yourself, provide your relationship to the person for whom you’re requesting the certificate. Please provide as much pertinent information as possible, e.g., the parish or institution where baptized, date of birth, date of baptism, if known, and parents’ names. A certificate will be prepared in accordance with the above policy. The certificate with complete notations will only be sent to a parish or other “proper authority”.
To obtain a marriage certificate provide the city and name of the church, groom’s name and bride’s maiden name, and date of marriage. If proof of First Communion or Confirmation, is needed, provide, again, as much pertinent information as possible. A certificate is not provided for these sacraments; rather a letter will be returned certifying the date, place, etc.
There is no charge for certificates provided from closed parishes. A fee of $5.00 is charged for certificates provided from open parishes and for additional copies of the same certificate. Certificates are not provided when requested for genealogical purposes.
For those persons preparing for an upcoming marriage, church law requires that a current baptismal certificate be issued within six months of the planned wedding date. Generally speaking, persons beginning their pre-nuptial classes usually are asked to show proof of baptism shortly after their first class. It is advised that the priest or deacon who will preside at the wedding be consulted as soon as possible as to when baptism certificates should be presented in the event that it may prove difficult to locate a baptism record or when found, the record may contain errors that must be corrected. It is a wise precaution to take care of the certificate requirement as soon as possible. Genealogical Research
The Archives will conduct genealogical research for a fee. The current fee structure is: $16.00 per hour, $8.00 minimum. This fee includes up to 10 photocopied pages of sacramental records. Additional photocopies of sacramental records are 20 cents per page (wide books that require two or more photocopies to get the entire record are counted as one page). Since most older records were recorded in Latin a translation will be provided, if requested, and included in the research time. Translations of French, German, or Spanish (there occur very rarely) cannot be provided.
Contact via e-mail, or regular mail, is encouraged since this gives you, the requester, the best opportunity to provide all the background information needed to do the search. Please be as specific and provide as much detail as to dates and churches as possible. Email Sr. Nadine Mathias at firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers can perform their own research during office hours (explained above in Records up to 1930). Photocopies are 10 cents per page (same definition as above). An appointment is required.
Be aware that genealogical research is the lowest priority work for the Archives. Thus, it’s possible for your request to take several, if not many, weeks to complete.