FamilySearch adds index to British Columbia baptisms, 1819-1954

FamilySearch logoFamilySearch added a new Canadian collection this week, British Columbia, Index to Baptisms, 1819-1954 — another reason dinner was served late yesterday.

This index is from a collection of church baptismal records in various locations around British Columbia, many of which predate the province joining Confederation on July 20, 1871.

The indexes of baptisms were bound in several volumes by the BC Vital Statistics Agency for reference and access by staff to answer inquiries from the public. Many of these records are of First Nations people and occasionally include aboriginal names. A group of volunteers were allowed, under staff supervision, to create these indexes for online publication. These records include much information which predates civil registration of births which was initiated in 1872.

I searched Smith in this collection for the years 1873 to 1875 and conducted a similar search in the BC Archives online collection of baptisms. The search on FamilySearch resulted in dozens of results, if not more, while the BC Archives search produced only four entries.

In some cases, the FamilySearch entry includes the father’s occupation. For example, I found Gentleman and Farm Worker.

Bottom line, when looking for your BC ancestors, check both collections — BC Archives and FamilySearch.

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2 Responses to FamilySearch adds index to British Columbia baptisms, 1819-1954

  1. Two comments –

    First, as this is only an index, researchers will need to contact the appropriate church archives about access to the documents. The ‘new’ BC Archives BC Genealogy page no longer gives helpful information about this. (And neither does FamilySearch.) In the next few days, I’ll be adding some appropriate info to the British Columbia section of the FamilySearch Wiki. Those researchers not in BC may want to contact the BC Research Committee of the British Columbia Genealogical Society: which offers lookups.

    Second, the BC Vital Statistics Agency early on sought access to BC church archives’ baptismal records to serve as a subsitute record for those born in BC before birth registration started. A number of years ago now, a small group of volunteers led, I believe, by a Genealogical Society of Utah volunteer, created an index to the baptismal records still in possession of the Agency. The Agency, however, felt that the records fell under BC Vital Statistics public access rules and accordingly the ‘official’ index available on the BC Archives website is only for baptisms from 1836 to 1888. I am a tad surprised that FamilySearch is offering records up to 1954. But it appears to me that the later ones in the Index are late baptisms of people born much much earlier. For one thing, I don’t see myself in there! I’ll be investigating 🙂 – several issues do come to mind immediately with this.

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