Out on a limb: Consolidation of records to be late Christmas gift

Tom Mooney - Out on a Limb | December 25th, 2017 6:00 am

Talk about perfect Christmas gifts! Here’s one that will be a tad late, but will keep on giving to local genealogists for generations to come.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton have cooperated in the preparation of a great new data base — all the diocesan church records available to the public in digital format and in one place.

“This 11-county project of over 300 parishes, churches and chapels will be complete in time for the Diocese 150th Jubilee in March 2018,” wrote society president Cole Kebles in a recent online posting.

What this means is that a genealogist researching ancestors through their Catholic church records will find all the records for all the churches in one place and will not have to visit numerous churches. They will be stored at the society’s research library in the caretaker building of the Hanover Green Cemetery, Main Road, Hanover Township.

The project is already well underway, and many records are currently available through the society.

To protect privacy, though, the records will not be put online. The researcher will have to access them in person at the library, which is now closed for winter break but will reopen from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 13. Check the society’s Facebook page for the 2018 days and hours of operation.

This new data base is important because Northeastern Pennsylvania has for generations been a heavily Catholic community. The diocese was formed March 3, 1868, according to a recent issue of “The Catholic Light,” the diocesan newspaper. Observation is already underway this month in the churches of the diocese and will continue through June. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera heads the diocese.

Church records are among the most important materials for genealogists. They give information on births, parents, baptisms, marriages and deaths. They also provide links to newspaper obituaries, which contain additional information, including birth places, addresses, employment, immigration, parents, spouses, children, other descendants, relatives through marriage and military service.

Resources: FamilySearch, the online resource maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, continues to make vital genealogical material available. Just last week, the service announced 5.5 million records of ship immigrants to New York 1906-1942. Also listed are more than 4 million Marine Corps muster rolls 1798-1937 and a huge trove of other foreign and domestic records.

News Notes: There might well be a health benefit in doing genealogy, a recent issue of the AARP Bulletin quotes an expert as saying. Genealogical research is just one of numerous stimulating activities recommended to counter Alzheimer’s disease, said Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

The genealogy-themed TV show “Finding Your Roots” removed a scheduled segment featuring humorist Garrison Keillor from the episode it broadcast last week because of accusations of inappropriate behavior leveled at him, the show’s website announced recently. A rerun of a segment featuring actress Maya Rudolph was to be substituted. Keillor had been dropped from his role as a contributor to National Public Radio as well. The show has concluded its season. Information on whether it will return has not yet been given.

The website and Facebook page of the now-defunct Genealogical Research Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania have shut down. The Lackawanna County-based group closed in November, announcing that it was giving its records to appropriate organizations in the area.

Tom Mooney Out on a Limb
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Tom Mooney

Out on a Limb

Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at [email protected]