Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2005-03 > 1109777381

From: The Green Family <>
Subject: Re: [Irish in Chicago]
Date: Wed, 02 Mar 2005 10:32:02 -0500
References: <>

> There are several theories about why certain Heritage
> Centers/archdiocese charge such outrageous fees and who exactly "owns"
> our ancestor's records. The Irish government also has gotten into this
> problem because they want to encourage tourism ($)

To me there's no doubt that the Irish heritage centres developed as a cash
cow when the Irish economy had less going for it than it does now. Tourism
was the answer and the demand for genealogical information was great, so
why not cash in on it? I do feel they've gotten a bit greedy, though.

> Some researchers believe that the catholic church, who "owns" most
> records we seek, is just trying to gouge genealogists and look at us,
> especially American genealogists, as a gold mine.

As I understand it, Catholic Canon Law specifies Church ownership and
responsibility for care of these records. My theory is that some countries
and cultures interpret this responsibility differently from others. For
the French, where civil and church record keeping was very much tied
together, it was logical to make these records available.

> Some believe the church, for various reasons, is purposely making it
> hard because they really don't want just anybody to see these records.

As above, I don't think we can generalize on this. The Catholic Church
tends to be a secretive organization (very much influenced by the Roman
Curia), so some countries and dioceses are very secretive about the
records. Others are not. Some have been very much influenced to be less
open than they used to be by our modern drive towards privacy legislation
(a problem in Canada, for example).

> Also they state that they are not into genealogy and
> do not have the time nor resources/equipment to do look-ups, make
> copies, etc, so if we want to see these records, we need to pay a fee.

Isn't this true of many records. Most census, BMD, church records, were
created for another purpose. My only wish is that, recognizing that the
organization holding the records doesn't have time to do the look-ups, they
would just make them available for you and me to do our own work.

> I and many believe there is an alterior motive behind this, that it is
> an old catholic v protestant thing.

This, I think, is an oversimplification. Some Catholic bishops are nervous
about the purpose to which the Mormons might put their records. I hesitate
to misinterpret Mormon theology, but if, as I understand, there is a
purpose relating to sealing the persons in the records into the LDS
church, those bishops would be reluctant to open their records. This was
debated by the bishops of Ontario, Canada when the Mormons asked to
microfilm records. The motion of the bishops' conference was finally to go
for the greater good and allow them access, and most Ontario dioceses were
filmed and are accessible through FHCentres. A couple of dioceses chose to
abstain (unfortunately including one where I have ancestors.)

> Some researchers who have gone to Ireland have encountered reluctant
> parish priests who won't let them see the records, the priests state
> that the records may start up "old feuds again". What do you think that
> means?
> I have encountered this not only in Ireland, but also in Nova Scotia.
> The fact that a child was "illegitimate" and the parents are listed on
> the baptismal record, is, in some places, a secret to be kept through
> many generations. It may be true that old wounds heal slowly and
> memories are long, or priests may just be overly nervous.

As to researching in the National Library, we had nothing but
co-operation. On the second floor is the genealogical centre where experts
in the records will give you all the help you need to figure where to
search. Then you go up to the library and request the films you need
(within the limitations people have mentioned in earlier notes.)

Lorraine Green

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