‘God Save the LDS’, or, ‘Not About LSD.’
November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment
Civil registration of vital records and of events, such as births, marriages, and deaths, began nationwide in Ireland in 1864. Since then, all events have been registered through the government and are collected in one central office, the General Register Office (An tSeirbhís um Chlárú Sibhialta) in Co. Roscommon. These records are available to genealogists and family researchers, but access is only gained initially by finding the sought after records listed in indices made available to the public. Finding an ancestor or life event can be difficult if the surname is widespread or if the county in which the event took place is not known. For the most part, if there was any doubt, a researcher would have to make their best guess.
In addition to only having initial access to the indices the other challenge to researchers is that, until recently, the only way to see the indices was to go, in person, to the research room available in Dublin city. If a researcher had a good idea of when and where who they were looking for might be, then they could write to the ofice instead, but at the risk of getting the wrong indiviual or paying extra research and location fees.
Then, along came the Mormons. The Church of Latter-Day Saints has scanned and copied to microfilm a ridiculous number of records, not just state records but church records as well. Among these are the indices for vital records. A researcher can now visit their local Family Learning Center, locate the appropriate film, and view the index desired. One still has to know something of who and what they are looking for to be successful. In addition to this, the LDS have also scanned many of the actual records and documents themselves, so one can see Granpa Paddy’s birth record without making a trip or writing to Dublin. I should mention at this point that county research centres also hold many of these same records within Ireland, but the same challanges hold true, not to mention that they also seem to charge much higher fees. Searching these databases is possible through FamilySearch.org (see the video link below).
Also available to researchers are the records held by the Roman Catholic church and Church of Ireland, many of which have also been filmed by the LDS. These, too, are available to order, and in some cases can provide information for dates earlier than those events registered in the Civil Records. I found it not uncommon to have trouble finding an individual in one type of record only to find them in the other.
I recently ordered a roll of film from the LDS and visited my local Family Learning Center, located at the St Louis County Library headquarters, to view it. The film contained the registers of baptisms, marriages, and deaths recorded in the civil district of Rosenallis, within which lies the village of Capard and the townland of Cones where the Conroy’s hail from. I was very excited to find the baptismal record for Ellen Conroy fairly quickly, and discovered an interesting variation in the spelling of Cones. It the document it was written as “Coen,” and I have also seen this elsewhere. On a side note this has raised some confusion regarding Ellen’s true birth year, as some documents list her at 1874 and others at 1877. It is true that this is still an acceptable variation in range, but it would be worthwhile trying to be a little more certain.
I have since spent many hours working through the LDS databases and have many records relevant to my research. Some have had a digital image of the actual record available online, while others have simply provided the call number to be used when ordering the film. I foresee many future visits to the St Louis County Library.
PS A good introduction to understanding how to search the Latter Day Saints databases is available here. It is focused on Irish Civil Registration, but the basics of how to navigate the websites I think can apply to any type of research.