Hidden Meanings of 20 Gravestone Symbols
Baptism of the dead evolved from the beliefs that baptism is necessary for salvation and that the family unit can continue to exist together beyond mortal life if all members are baptized. Mormons trace their family trees to find the names of ancestors who died without learning about the restored Mormon Gospel so that these relatives from past generations can be baptized by proxy in the temple.
For Latter-day Saints, genealogy is a way to save more souls and strengthen the eternal family unit. Original records -- about 2. The practice has not been without controversy, however.
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In the mids, there was a backlash when it was uncovered that the names of about , Jewish Holocaust victims had been submitted for posthumous baptism by what church historian Marlin Jensen calls "well-intentioned, sometimes slightly overzealous members. However, Jewish names have periodically been discovered since the agreement, including that of Holocaust survivor and Jewish human rights activist Simon Wiesenthal, which was found and removed in Catholics and members of other faiths have also been upset at the practice.
Despite the controversies, the Mormon archives are a boon to professional and amateur genealogists. Copies of the original microfilms are freely available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which is the main repository, and they can be ordered at smaller regional Family History Centers. The records include vital records birth, death and marriage certificates , wills and probate records, land records, town or county records, church records and more.
Much of the information is online at FamilySearch. The International Genealogical Index IGI consists of two kinds of information: primary records typically gathered by Mormon missionaries and transcribed and indexed by Mormon and non-Mormon volunteers; and copies of ordinances provided by members of the church.
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All will hold more recent registers. When I started to trace my family history back in , I was spoiled by my experience at St Andrews, the Catholic church in Bagenalstown, County Carlow. Without any appointment or charge, I was allowed to turn up and study their neatly filed and typed printouts of transcribed baptism, marriage and burial records. Had I contacted the church by letter or phone, the vestry staff would have offered to do the research for me for a modest fee.
I was mightily impressed. I thought this was how it was always going to be, and innocently expected I'd get all my ancestors lined up in a family tree chart in no time at all. When I rang to make an appointment, I was told there were no printouts, and registers were not available for the public to view.
However, if I wanted to make a donation to the church, the priest would see if he could find the records I was seeking. I sent a 'donation'. I didn't hear another thing. Only later did I discover that these parish registers were available on microfilm at the National Library in Dublin, so I didn't need to see the parish originals. And I wouldn't have to pay or make any donation, either. I've since learned that I'm not the only researcher to have made a 'donation' and received nothing.
However, I've also learned that many researchers have received records following their 'donations'. I guess it depends on the parish. If you are at a distance, you might try approaching the parish church itself to see what arrangements, if any, they could make to help you trace family history in their parish. You should be able to find details of individual churches on Google.
Births, deaths and marriages
Ireland's network of Heritage Centres — typically one per county — has been involved in the transcription and computerisation of Irish church registers for some years. Most of these centres are part of the Irish Family History Foundation and release their records online through that organisation's umbrella website, RootsIreland see above. All of these centres, and also those who do not release their records through the IFHF, can be commissioned to carry out family history research.
They do not allow personal visitors to access their records. In other words, you can choose to either access their records via RootsIreland or to commission the heritage centre team to conduct research. In these areas, you might like to consider hiring a local professional genealogist. Commissioning a professional researcher.
Of course, hiring a professional is always an alternative to doing it yourself. They have the specialised skills to help you, whether you want a full genealogy drawn up or just need a little direction over a particular brickwall. To find one, you can make contact with members of Accredited Genealogists Ireland AGI , choose one from the National Library of Ireland 's list , or follow recommendations from fellow family historians.
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Personal visits to each of these repositories is free of charge but you may need an appointment or Reader's Card before you can use the Reading Rooms. Check the access arrangements before visiting. The National Library of Ireland's microfilmed collection of Roman Catholic parish registers is now available on a free online database.
The microfilms themselves are no longer available to personal visitors. Both the National Archives of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland offer year-round free Genealogy Services to personal visitors on a first-come, first-served basis ie no appointments. Details are on each of the websites. There are a growing number of city, county and regional websites containing transcripts of various baptism, marriage and burial registers, as well as gravestones.
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Some of these are pay-per-view or subscription sites such as AncestryIreland and Emerald Ancestors in Northern Ireland. A good many books have also been published over the years containing gravestone transcriptions from old churchyards. Miscellaneous collections of Irish church registers There are a growing number of city, county and regional websites containing transcripts of various baptism, marriage and burial registers, as well as gravestones. Its guidance will be useful to any researcher of irish heritage, but especially for the target Irish-American researcher who's struggling to work back to Ireland from their immigrant ancestor.
It's read by professional genealogists, individual family historians and pretty much everyone who wants to keep up to date with all the latest resources and developments in Irish family history. Check it out today - Irish Genealogy News. Commissioning a professional researcher Hiring a professional is always an alternative to doing it yourself. To find one, you can make contact with members of Accredited Genealogists Ireland , choose a researcher from the National Archives of Ireland's list , or follow recommendations from fellow family historians.
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My handy e-book brings you details of all the Irish family history resources released from January to March Click to find out more. Irish church registers Part 2: Where to find records. Sound too good to be true?
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