Are baptism records considered original sources like birth records?

+6 votes
149 views
WikiTree profile: Jennie Julson
asked in Genealogy Help by Linda Rosendahl G2G5 (5.4k points)
retagged by Linda Rosendahl
Yes. Baptisms were frequently conducted within a few days of birth, sometimes the same day, and often state the age of the child, or the date of birth.

Catholic Church baptism records date from the 1500s (although not all still exist), civil records typically date from the 1800s, and in some places from the 1900s.

However, sometimes baptisms were performed much later, especially if the person converted to another religion. These do not necessarily state the person birthdate or age.
Like any other primary record they can have errors or have secondary information. For the baptism record the baptism info would be considered primary info but the birth info could be secondary, a burial record would be considered primary for the burial info, but secondary for the death date. That is why the rule of thumb is to find three sources or documentation for each event.
Thanks very much, makes sense; and I was unaware of the rule of thumb to find three sources or documentation for each event! Good to know.

4 Answers

+11 votes
If you have Irish ancestors in the 19th century, the baptism records in the National Library of Ireland are often the only documentation you will find.   The nice thing about them is, (if you can get over the Latin in the Catholic Church records), the father's place of residence, the mother's maiden name and two witnesses (Godparents) are listed who are often close relatives.  Use the "before this date" choice for D.O.B.
answered by Bob Hanrahan G2G4 (4.8k points)
+6 votes
In some cases the baptism record may be all you have. Before introduction of civil registration the only documentation of a new family member arriving in the world was the baptism. Some churches include the actual date of birth on the baptism record, but many only state the date of baptism, so the only conclusion you can draw about date of birth is that it was before the baptism. It may even have been years before as some families baptised several children of different ages together. I recently found that one of my great uncles was baptised age 22, but I was lucky that his date of birth was included so I was able to attribute the record to the correct person.
answered by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (618k points)
0 votes
Thanks Cliff [Lien-189] for your post on Jennie's [Nelson-3298] page. That info is very helpful; her ancestors' baptismal records now also make much more sense! Do you have any idea, though, why one baptism record would state 19 June 1859 as her baptism date and another 26 June as her baptism date? Would the 19 June just be an error, given that the original church record, that you so kindly provided the link to, shows 26 June? (I put this new question under the 'Research Notes' section of her profile, along with links to the sources in question.)
answered by Linda Rosendahl G2G5 (5.4k points)
Actually there are two church books, a ministerial book kept by the parish priest and a Klokkerbok kept by the klokker who was something like a sexton for the local parish.  The priest wrote the 19th of June for the christening date but the klokker wrote the 26th.  The klokker is the local man who knows the people involved and his date is more likely to be correct but there is no way of knowing for sure.  Christened between 19-26 of June would I suppose be safest.

Priest Book https://www.digitalarkivet.no/kb20070222610091

Klokkerbok  https://www.digitalarkivet.no/kb20070510650449

Cliff in Alberta
many thanks

Linda formerly of North Dakota :)
Well I found a 3rd source (confirmation) for you to add to the 2 above for Guro's birthdate but guess what?  :-)

Another date this time for the birth - 15 June 1859

https://www.digitalarkivet.no/kb20061229660605

I think I would stick with the 16th from the christening records.

Cliff in Alberta
Oh my! :-) Thanks so much for your help, expertise and advice.
+3 votes
Baptism records are sometimes more valuable than birth records because they may include the names of sponsors.  Such info is often extremely useful for understanding the structure of the local community.
answered by Michael Schell G2G3 (3.6k points)

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