Church Records             

What are Parish Registers?

​​Marseille, La Major, baptemes 1607.jpg

Catholic parish records are the most commonly used set of records dating before 1792  for doing French family history research. Since the keeping of records as part of the civil registration systems did not start until until 1792 in F​rance and into the nineteenth century elsewhere, parish records constitute an invaluable source of demographic and personal information about individuals. These records can be divided into two categories: sacramental records and non-sacramental records.

Sacramental Records:

In 1539, François I signed the edict known as Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, which made French the administrative language of the kingdom and required priests to register births and deaths  in every parish. This initiated the first records of vital statistics with filiations in Europe.​ Although the specific requirements as to the content of parish registers have changed from time to time, the formats of  these records, especially the christening and marriage entries have stayed basically the same. This tutorial will introduce you to those basic formats; that is, it will focus on the specific information contained in each entry and locate where that information can usually be found. 

Non-Sacramental Records:

Parish records also include fraternal order books, church censuses, account books, and local history documents.​​

Click on the links below to start learning more about reading sacramental Records as sources of genealogical information.

Types of Parish Records

Click on the type of record below to learn more and see samples.

Christening Records Marriage Entries Marriage Investigations Burial Records


1031 Joseph F. Smith Building

Provo, UT 84602

Phone: 801.422.1968