PITTSBURGH, PA

Checking into your family tree? Help is available

Saturday, September 28, 2019 - Updated: 8:22 am

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

People interested in their family genealogy are invited to a Catholic Resources for Your Family Tree program Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in Schoppol Hall of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Perrysville, part of the Neighbors North Catholic Community.

The event is sponsored by the Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania in conjunction with North Hills Genealogists.

The presenters will be Thomas White, university archivist and curator of special collections at Duquesne University, as well as an adjunct professor of history at both Duquesne and La Roche University; Kathleen Washy, archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden and a member of the board of directors of the Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania; and Dennis Wodzinski, director of the Archives and Records Center of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

White will speak on using the digitized Pittsburgh Catholic for researching family histories. Searchable archived issues of the paper are available through the Gumberg Library at Duquesne. A link can be found on the Pittsburgh Catholic website, www.pittsburghcatholic.org.

Washy will speak on genealogy and Catholic convent archives, pointing out the types of family trees that exist in religious congregation archives. She will also list ways people can find information on their own ancestors.

“By connecting with these religious resources, researchers also come to understand the role that the Catholic Church had not only within their own families but for the history of western Pennsylvania, as well as the history of the United States,” she said. “The Catholic Church has impacted so many aspects of our history and shaped so many individuals throughout the more than 350 years of presence in this section of Pennsylvania.”

In noting that the Archives and Records Center is a “fantastic” resource for genealogical research of Catholic ancestors, Wodzinski noted that it has well over 3,800 sacramental registers, a good portion of which are from the 1800s. The archives contain all sacramental registers older than 70 years beginning in 1808 for the six counties of the diocese, he said, and that information contained in them can provide data such as parents’ names, names of godparents and an occasional origin of family members.

People requesting genealogical information from the collection are asked to fill out the request form located on the diocesan center’s website (https://diopitt.org/archives). Searches can only be performed by staff due to privacy considerations. All genealogy requests must be made in writing and include a $15 deposit (for the first hour of research).

The Archives Center also has information on more than 400 parishes, chapels and missions. Those interested in doing research should call ahead and make arrangements for their visit. More information is available by calling 412-456-3158.

The Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania publishes Gathering Fragments, a magazine-style publication that addresses the culture and history of Catholicism in the region. In addition, it solicits book and exhibit reviews, news and other items related to area Catholic history. Washy is co-editor of the publication.

Membership in the society is open to all individuals, educational institutions and lay or religious organizations with an interest in the Catholic Church. Information is available by visiting www.chswpa.org, or by e-mailing info@chswpa.org.

The cost for the Oct. 19 program is $10 and includes all three workshops and light refreshments. You can register online at www.chswpa.org.


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