Each result will provide a transcript and image of the original baptism register from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The records currently included in this collection span from the early 1800s up to 1917.
The images of the original registers may be able to provide additional details. Please note, however, that most Roman Catholic registers are in Latin. See below in our search tips for help in deciphering the Latin in these records.
Additional information that you may find from the images include place of birth, sponsors, minister who performed the ceremony, and notice of marriage. Catholic priests were charged with noting all vital events of their parishioners. If, for instance, a parishioner married outside her home parish, the priest who performed the marriage would contact her priest to confirm she was baptised and to share the details of her marriage, hence the marriage notice in the baptism register.
For example, on the record for Luigi Orlando we see that he was born on 31 December 1912 and his baptism took place on 8 November 1914. Beneath this we see he was later married (matrimonium contraxit cum) to Sara Colderaro on (quando) 6 February 1945.
These records are from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The diocese covers Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. Originally formed as a diocese in 1808 by Pope Pius VII, it was made a metropolitan archdiocese in 1875. The Catholic Church has had a presence in the area since as far back as William Penn’s founding of the Province of Pennsylvania in 1681.
The first Roman Catholic church built in Philadelphia was Old St Joseph’s. It was erected in 1733 and dedicated on 9 February 1839. Baptism registers from Old St Joseph’s from 1889 to 1917 are included in this collection. The Marquis de Lafayette and the Comte de Rochambeau both attended Old St Joseph’s whilst in America during the American Revolution.
The counties included in this collection are Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia North, and Philadelphia South. Chester County is not included.
Begin by searching on a name only.
Refine and narrow your search by adding a baptism or birth year.
If you have a general idea where your ancestor lived, you can narrow your search by parish, town, or county.
You may see the parenthetical notation of sub con next to your ancestor’s name. This notation stands for sub conditione meaning under the condition or, put simply, conditional. This means that the original baptism of the individual was in doubt – whether because the original sacrament was performed in a different Christian denomination where the validity is in question or was an emergency baptism. Additionally, it may refer to a child born of a mixed marriage, where only one parent is Catholic. In such a case, there may be questions as to whether a baptism was performed at all and, if it was, if it was done at the non-Catholic spouse’s church.
Some key words to be familiar with in these records (the Latin is in parentheses):
Birth (nati, natus, genitus, natales, ortus, oriundus)
Baptism date (datum baptismi)
Birth date (datum nativitatis)
Birth place (locus nativitatis)
Christening (baptismi, baptizatus, renatus, plutus, lautus, purgatus, ablutus, lustratio)
Child (infans, filius/filia, puer, proles)
Godparent (patrini, levantes, susceptores, compater, commater, matrina)
Married together with (matrimonium contraxit cum)
Name and residence (nomen et residentia)
Parents (parentes, genitores)