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Sacramental Records and Genealogy

Parish Records

Parish sacramental registers are a valuable asset to the individual, the parish and the Church. They are attended to carefully and preserved diligently. Canon Law, the law of the Church that governs the administration of parishes, requires pastors to maintain sacramental records. Parishes maintain five types of sacramental records: baptismal, first Communion, confirmation, marriage and death records.

  • Baptismal Records — Should include the child’s name, date of birth, date of baptism, the parents’ names including the mother’s maiden name, the names of the sponsors and the name of the officiating clergy
  • First Communion and Confirmation Records — Usually limited to name and date the sacrament was received
  • Marriage Records — Should include the names of the bride and groom, the date of the wedding, the names of the witnesses and the name of the officiating clergy
  • Death Records — Tends to be very inconsistent regarding the kind and quality of information because Canon Law does not specify what information should be recorded

Location of Sacramental Records

Sacramental records are ordinarily maintained by the parish that created them. The Diocese of Little Rock Archives maintains a central record of baptisms and marriages that have occurred in the diocese dating back to the late 1800s. Unfortunately, many early records were not well maintained and the records are not complete. For specific information, submit a Request for Sacramental Record or Archive Search.

Records from a Closed Parish

  • Parishes Closed Prior to 1975 — Sacramental records were sent to a nearby parish
  • Parishes Closed Since 1975 Sacramental records were sent to the Diocese of Little Rock Archives

Access to Diocesan and Parish Sacramental Records

Sacramental records are of a mixed nature: private and public. They are private in that they were created in circumstances presumed to be private and confidential. They are public in that they will stand in civil law as valid and authentic evidence when an appropriate civil record does not exist. They are not "public" in the sense that they are not open to immediate examination and inspection by anyone for whatever reason.

Genealogy Requests

Requests for information on baptismal or marriage sacramental records for the purpose of genealogy can be made through the Chancery Office. To facilitate the process, requests should be made in writing. E-mail a Request for Sacramental Record or Archive Search.

Requests for Personal Sacramental Records

First, contact the parish where the sacrament was celebrated. The church of baptism becomes the official site for recording subsequent sacraments, even if they are celebrated in another parish. The first step in obtaining a baptismal certificate is to contact the church of baptism. If you know the name of the parish, go to our alphabetical listing of parishes to find contact information. If unsure of the parish, e-mail a Request for Sacramental Record or Archive Search.