Preserve and Protect Irish Catholic Church Registers

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Alec van Helsdingen
Alec van Helsdingen signed this petition

For Irish genealogists, registers of baptisms, marriages and burials kept by the Catholic Church are often the most important sources for research in the 19th century and earlier. This is in part due to the catastrophic destruction of archives that occurred in 1922 during the Civil War. 

The original, physical registers are often in bad condition, and continue to degrade and even go missing due to poor storage conditions; as genealogist John Grenham wrote in 2018: "The Catholic Registers are rotting". 

The National Library of Ireland microfilmed many, but not all, of these records in the 1970s. The quality of many of these microfilms is poor, making them difficult or even impossible to read. In 2015 these were made available online

While recognizing that these records are the private property of the Catholic Church, we urge it and it's dioceses to take better care of these vital pieces of heritage, and to consider permitting better quality scans of the records to be made and placed online. Many in the genealogical community would be glad to volunteer time and resources to assist in this project. 

Ireland has already lost much of its heritage due to the 1922 destruction of the Public Records Office. The loss of the Catholic registers would obliterate the last remaining documentary evidence of the lives of millions of Irish Catholics.