Re: Advice About Getting Church Records
I'm glad you asked advice about convincing reluctant church officials to share
information with you. Are there any other success stories about getting
records unlocked, dusted off and shared?
Here's how I approached the priest to get information from the books they
called their "sacramental records", which sounds like what they have. Remember
to be nice - they have something that you want.
I called the archdiocese of Philadelphia (got their number from the web) and
asked the person who answered the phone at the main switchboard where the
records of St. John Nepomucene church in Philadelphia - long closed - were
kept. After several transfers - I ALWAYS said I was calling long distance
- someone informed me that the records had been transferred to St. Agnes
I called long distance from Baltimore to Philadelphia to St. Agnes and asked
to speak with the PRIEST - not the housekeeper. (My experience is that
priests are often more sympathetic to these causes.) He wasn't home, so I
found out when he was expected back. I called HIM back when he was available.
I found I was more likely to get help if I did the calling, and I strongly
advise you not to tell your story to anyone but the priest.
I explained to the priest that I was looking for information on my deceased
Great Grandfather who was a founding member of the parish. I explained that I
would be willing to make a $$donation$$ to their parish fund if I could see
their "sacramental records", and asked if I could made an appointment to see
him. He said yes, and I was on my way. (OK, OK: call it a bribe!!!)
I kept my appointment, and was rewarded by seeing complete records in Latin of
the marriages of my grandfather HENDRICHOVSKY and grandmother HUDAK, which
included information on where both sets of parents were born and their
mothers' maiden names. I saw baptismal records from the ZOLOVCIC side of my
family, too: my grandmother (now 93) and all her brothers and sister, complete
with the names of their godparents. It gives me goosebumps just to remember
it. I did indeed give a donation to the priest for spending 2 hours with me.
And it was well worth it. Of course, that set up a whole new set of
And along the way I got a lot of information about the history of the parish
and the area. He even drove me back to the train station.
Eleanor M. Henry, PhD .....................ehenry@...
Institutional and Public Policy
Specializing in Health Issues
.............................. 410-243-8003 (voice)
.............................. 410-243-1453 (fax)
On Tue, 12 Oct 1999, Diane Le Fevre wrote:
> I am trying to research a Slovak church archive in Pittsburgh Pa.
> The archive is privately held by the church, basically its their
> parish record books that I am trying to get assess to, where
> baptisms, deaths etc are recorded...The denomination of the church is
> Roman Catholic. The relationship I have with the deceased is a direct
> blood one, she is my great great grandmother. Yes, I am still a
> Roman catholic but no none of my relatives attend this church.
> As I have put together the history of the church, it had satellite
> church services, under the auspices of this parish, in a very small
> town in southwestern PA for the few people who were roman catholic.
> Miners from eastern europe came around the turn of the century to
> work in the coal mines and most were roman catholic. If you look at
> the census demographics of religion for the area during the 1900 and
> 1910 census, the roman catholic portion of the population went from
> just a handful to over 100 in just a couple of years time...hence the
> need for a "satellite church." While cleaning out a trunk of my
> grandmother's I found a ribbon, like those given as prizes for
> winning a contest or for some accomplishment. On the ribbon it was
> marked with the church's name,Town's name year and was in Slovak.
> Since it was in grandmother's chest and my grandfather would've been
> a small boy during the year that was on the ribbon, I figured it was
> given to him for someting he had accomplished in church. My great
> grandparents were VERY strong catholics and would've attended church
> no matter what. It was nice to find out where they went by this
> ribbon....and implicit in this is message is the closest catholic
> church to this small town was in Pittburgh and all though I haven't
> confirmed this, suspect that this small town fell under the Slovak
> churches district or was left to them to deal with people who were
> from Slovakia in the old country.
> I have probably given you more than you wanted to know, but after a
> great aunt and I got all the necessary death certificates, without
> any information except unknown... it's frustrating. There is some
> dispute about my greatgrandmother's last name and before I can make
> the jump back to the old country I need to comfirm this. It was
> between censuses, I can find no published obits...haven't located the
> ship they came over on,so this seems the logical next step
> Thanks for taking an interest...
> >Thanks for contacting me for advice. I have a few questions before I answer:
> >Which archives are you trying to research?
> >What denomination is the church?
> >What is your relationship to the deceased?
> >Are you or any of your relatives still afflilated with the denomination?
> >Are you or any of your relatives still affilitated with same parish?
> Diane Le Fevre
I agree there are sympathetic priests out there.
We never knew the name of the village my father's parents came from in
Slovakia. We did know that my grandmother had a brother and a sister
living in Monesson, Pa. south of Pittsburgh and we knew the names of her
daughter and son-in-law.
I called the Greek Catholic church in Monesson, explained to the priest
that I was researching my family roots and who I was looking for. At
that point, he told me they had been in church that morning for Liturgy
and gave me their home phone number.
The Lord works in mysterious ways!
Hope to see everyone at the Slovak Festival in Baltimore!
"TRADITION is the JOYFUL memory of a people!"