FREE IMAGES of all parish registers for this Diocese are online for browsing, a totally independent project of the GSU and FamilySearch.** Baptisms (to 1906), first communions, confirmations, marriages (to 1931), deaths (to 1956), and indexes, when available, are included.
Click this link to FamilySearch.
In the top right corner of that site's homepage, find and click the Sign In words there. Everyone must register to see the free images. Once registered, your name will appear in the right corner when properly signed in.Trouble viewing images is most likely related to registration. Please work through the FamilySearch site's Help area to solve any viewing problems.
To assist in locating a particular record or church, use SCCGS's Parish Finding Aids and Descriptive Lists. Note than microfilm rolls numbers are not part of the FamilySearch images. SCCGS's microfilm includes records not available through FamilySearch - the reverse is also true.
The digital images are owned and operated by Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU).
BACKGROUND - SCCGS PROJECT
SCCGS's project preceded that of the GSU/FamilySearch. SCCGS obtained permission from the Diocese to create microfilm copies of historical Parish Registers through 31 December 1930. In 2002 the project was released for public use at the Belleville Public Library.
Baptisms, communions, confirmation, deaths, and marriages date from the late 1690s (with gaps). Over 140 parishes in 28 southern Illinois counties east from St. Clair to Lawrence and all to the south are included.
IMPORTANCE Catholic sacramental registers precede civil registration
Read how the SCCGS organized and accomplished its microfilm project below.
PARISH FINDING AIDS AND MICROFILM ROLL DESCRIPTIVE LISTS
As we become aware of Indexes and abstracts of these records, we will post links within the Parish Finding Aid and Descriptive Lists on this Website.
Latin and French. Language aids are available online in the Research Helps section of the FamilySearch (Family History Library) web site [click > Search by Subject > then letter L, > scroll down to Languages]. Given names translated from French and Latin into English are located on the American-French Genealogical Society web site>
Two resources were used to annotate the Parish Finding Aids and Descriptive Lists, and will help determine other parishes to check when a record is not found where expected.
For the SCCGS microfilm project, the original security** microfilm at the diocesan archives was used to prepare the duplicate rolls. The Society was responsible for editing out any records from 1931 to present. The editing process is explained elsewhere in this document. A 15 April 2002 release date culminates this year-long project.
**Security microfilm serves as a "backup copy" of parish registers should a fire, flood, or other catastrophy occur. The microfilming process includes little, if any, records organization.
MICROFILMED SET LOCATIONS
Two libraries each hold a complete set of microfilm and may be viewed on location.
LEGIBILITY–ORIGINAL REGISTERS - SECURITY MICROFILM
While the techniques used during security microfilming were generally quite good (focused, good contrast), the condition of the original church registers varied greatly. Writing instruments, inks and handwriting all contributed to the legibility or lack thereof. Ink was often more faded or barely legible during the 1860s- 1870s. A few security microfilms were damaged prior to the project (image scraped off). Consequently this damage is reflected on the duplicate.
INDEXES AND RECORD RETENTION
Not all registers are indexed. Indexes available on film were retained whenever possible, including some after 1930. Indexes should not be considered all-inclusive. Consult the Finding Aid for years covered by an index, as this note does not usually appear on the microfilmed page itself.
Early parish register pages were seldom numbered but events were ordinarily in chronological order. If events were recorded out of sequence, a note will appear in the Finding Aid for that particular register.
Small parishes registers might have two or three years per microfilmed page. For example, an entry for 1929 or 1930 may reside on the same page as 1931 entries, and because the 1931 record had to be removed, the entire page was deleted. It was physically impossible to retain parts of pages.
Baptismal records prior to 1931 to which post-1930 marriage information had been appended were retained.
Communion and Confirmation records hold the fewest genealogical clues. In general, only the name of the person receiving these sacraments was noted in the register. These records were often recorded among baptisms during the year performed.
In some cases duplicate or rewritten registers were prepared by a parish and are part of the diocese's security microfilm set. As a result, both the original register (if extant) and the copied register were included in this project.
UNREADABLE ENTRIES – RECORD NOT FOUND – CLOSED PARISHES
When unable to locate a particular record in the parish expected, researchers should consult parish registers in surrounding areas.
In cases where the microfilmed record is unreadable, or you believe your ancestor's entry falls between the last record cited in the Finding Aid and 1931, either view the images online (see left column above) or write the parish to request a search. Current parish addresses and contact information can be found on the web site of the Diocese of Belleville . The parish reserves the right to refuse to photocopy an entry due to fragile condition of the original register. All requests must be in writing and should include the name, event, date and page number observed on the microfilm. A stamped, self-addressed envelope should accompany each request. Donations are accepted, payable to the parish, and are considered by the genealogical community to be a common courtesy, particularly if asking for more than one record.
When parishes are closed (usually due to declining congregation), the registers are preserved at the Belleville Diocesan Archives. Registers of closed parishes are noted as CLOSED in the Finding Aid. The archives cannot perform research for you. However, illegible register entries can be transcribed or abstracted upon request. All requests must be in writing and accompanied by the parish, name, event, date and page observed on the microfilm, plus a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Donations are accepted, payable to the Archives of the Diocese of Belleville, and are considered by the genealogical community to be a common courtesy, particularly if asking for more than one record. Mail requests to Belleville Diocesan Archives, c/o the Chancery Office, 222 South Third Street, Belleville, Illinois 62220. Consult the diocesan web site for any change in policy.
The diocesan security microfilm rolls were originally prepared in the 1960s and 1980s. Two duplicate sets of microfilm were prepared from these rolls in batches of twelve. Ordinarily the set prepared during the 1960s was used for this project. Each duplicated roll was viewed and compared to the quality of the security copy. Overall, the duplicated rolls achieved approximately 90% of the quality of the original microfilm. Unsatisfactory rolls were redone and the best set selected for editing.
Both sets of film were viewed on a microfilm reader and records after 1930 were marked for editing. Beginning and ending dates of records retained and edited were noted on paper. Stickers were placed on the first and last pages of each register page (microfilm frame) requiring edit. Most reels averaged six to eight edited spots but a few required nearly 20 edits, usually in a parish that served more than one community. The content of these detailed register sheets appear on this website.
After marking, the film was again transported in batches to St. Louis. Each spot to be edited was viewed through a hand-held ocular magnifier prior to cutting the film so the cut was done on the correct microfilm frame.
One section of film was removed at a time and the ends spliced together. In all cases the original sequence in which the registers were filmed was retained. The electronic splicer used to heat-seal the two portions together created a very strong bond which cannot be yanked or twisted apart–a big improvement over the film tape used in days past.
The register sequence, beginning and ending dates, and special notes were keyed into a database which resulted in Descriptive Lists. Each roll of film was again viewed and compared to the Descriptive List to ensure the images began and ended on the same pages. The Descriptive Lists were printed and put in plastic sheet protectors. These finding aids are located in both libraries and on the St. Clair County Genealogical Society web site. Finally, labels were applied to each box.
The St. Clair County Genealogical Society extends its sincere thanks to the Diocese of Belleville, Reverend Kenneth J. York, Chancellor, and Sister Mary Kenan Wolff, Archivist, for the opportunity to make this set of records available.
|Project Director||Diane Renner Walsh, CG|
|Marking Assistants||Robert Biehl, Gloria Dettleff, Dorothy Falk, Esther Laumbattus, Larry Kritis, and Mary Parker|
|Editing||Walsh and Parker|
|Donations||The Society graciously accepted donations from its members and others amounting to nearly $1300.00 to help offset project costs.|
|Professional Services||Microtek Document Imaging Systems, Inc., St. Louis duplicated the microfilm. The company granted the Society free use of their microfilm editing equipment which kept costs to a minimum and ensured tighter, more accurate data control over the course of the project.|
Information may be linked to but not copied. Authorized by SCCGS Board of Directors.