Lithuania Roman Catholic Parish Registers
(in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives and Online)
If your immigrant Lithuanian ancestor was a Roman Catholic, the archived and/or online registers of Roman Catholic (RC) parishes in Lithuania may contain (1) your ancestor's birth record, and (2) many birth, marriage and death records of your ancestor's family and ancestors.
For many years, the still-existing old register books of RC parishes in Lithuania have been preserved in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives (Lietuvos Valstybės Istorijos Archyvas (LVIA)) in Vilnius, Lithuania. Some of those documents were also microfilmed for preservation purposes. In many cases, there are two handwritten versions of the register pages: one was the original set of register pages and the other was a contemporary transcribed copy; one was to be kept by the RC parish and the other was for the RC deanery and / or diocese. [I don't know what the rules actually were, but from the records I have encountered (in dioceses of Vilnius and Telšiai) it appears to me that the original set of register pages from a given year had to be given to the deanery (probably early in the following year) and so, before doing that, the parish had to transcribe those entries into the parish set of register books.]
In recent years, a project was begun to digitize some of these parish registers (and many other Lithuanian documents) and to make them available for online viewing via the epaveldas.lt website of the Martynas Mažvydas National Library. The description on the website says that these RC parish registers at LVIA are being digitized by the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania (and partner Lithuanian organizations, including the Office of the Archivist of Lithuania) as part of of a project that receives financial support from the European Union. [In terms of genealogy nomenclature, I consider the epaveldas.lt website to be the "Repository" of these digitized records, and LVIA to be the "Repository" of the paper, microfilm, and other pre-digitized versions of these records.] The www.epaveldas.lt website refers to itself as being a "portal", and prohibits any commercial use of the material.
All of the records are organized by parish, that is, by the name of the town in which the parish church was located. Therefore, you must know the name of your ancestor's parish town in order to find the records of your ancestor. (If you don't know it, go back to the Find Birth Place page on this website about finding the birthplace of an immigrant Lithuanian ancestor.)
The general approach would be as follows:
For many years, it was difficult to know which parishes and which registers were/ are at LVIA, but that is changing. For instance, the RootsWeb website now has the following link to a list of churches that have registers in the archives: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lithuani/html/baznycios__.html
Each item on the RootsWeb list contains the name of a town in which the church was (and probably still is) located, followed by the name of the deanery in parentheses, followed by the LVIA reference number for the records set that contains the parish registers. (The deanery was a contiguous group of Roman Catholic parishes; it was the administrative level between the diocese and the parish.) For example, the line for Lieplaukė says:
"Lieplaukė (Alsėdžių dek.) 669 16"
This means that the Roman Catholic parish whose church was located in the town of Lieplaukė was in the Alsėdžiai deanery, and that the registers of the parishes of Alsėdžiai deanery are in the LVIA records set known as "Fondas 669 Aprašas 16". [From other sources, that records set is known as "Telšiai RC diocese Alsėdžiai deanery church registers, 1865-1939"] From this list you cannot know which specific registers are in this set, except for those town names that have a "hot link" which can be clicked to obtain the additional information. For example, clicking on the town name "Akmenė" brings up a list of registers ["Gimimo" (Birth); "Santuokos" (marriage); "Mirties" (death)] by calendar year, and even shows the number of register entries for each calendar year.
Another website that can be used to find information about which parish registers are in the archives is Elektroninio archyvo informacinė sistema, known as "EAIS". The following link will take you to the search page:
Text Entry: Try the name of the town, in the genitive case, or try entering the first few letters of the town name. Entering "Lieplaukė" or "Lieplauke" will bring up a set numbered "1479". That is the LVIA "Fondas" number of the set. It also brings up the title of the set: "Lieplaukės Šv. Jurgio Romos katalikų bažnyčia (Ecclesia Romana Catholica S. Georgii Lieplaukensis)" which translates to "St. George Roman Catholic Church of Lieplaukė (St. George Roman Catholic Church of Lieplaukė)", which I typically would further shorten to "Lieplaukė RCC". [Note that this LVIA Fondas number (1479) is different than the Fondas number (F. 669 Ap.16) shown on the RootsWeb site for the Lieplaukė RCC records. They are both correct; one of the sets contains the parish copy and the other contains the deanery copy. For an example of such a duplicate record, go to the Example of a "Duplicate" Birth Record at the Archives page of this LithuanianCatholicAncestor Search.com website.]
Some of the other Lithuanian text that you may encounter:
The registers are on the www.epaveldas.lt website. For a list of parishes that have online registers, refer to the Are the Registers of Ancestor's RC Parish in Lithuania Online? page of this website.
General Description of the Search Process. To begin a search, you start on the appropriate Initial Search Page and type the name of the town in which the RC parish church was located, and that will bring up a selection of any birth, marriage and death registers of that RC parish that are in the online database. To continue the search, you select the specific register that you want to view, and then use the image navigation tools to navigate to the specific image(s) that you want to view. When looking at any specific image, you can use the image viewer tools to get a better view of selected portions of an image. There are also tools to download any individual image (for non-commercial use).
Choices of Website Initial Search Page. There are 2 versions of the Search Page: the current version and "Previous Version". In my opinion, the current version is much better at gaining initial access to the parish registers but is much poorer at manipulating the images for viewing. Because of these differences, I have a personal preference for the Previous Version, because I was already accustomed to its idiosyncrasies. For a description of how to access the online registers of an ancestor's RC parish, go to either one of the following pages of this website:
(Even if your ancestor's parish records aren't online, you can still review the online records to get an idea of the typical content of parish registers.)
About Entries in the Registers of Lithuanian RCCs
For additional information about entries in the pre-WWI birth, marriage and death registers of Roman Catholic churches (RCCs) in Lithuania, refer to the following pages in this section of this website:
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