Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Finding Catholic Records In Washington



By Jeanne Coe, March 2021

 If you are researching Roman Catholic records in eastern Washington, first contact the parish where you believe your family may have resided. The Diocese of Spokane covers approximately all of eastern Washington from Canada to Oregon, from Idaho to the Columbia River. Each parish within the diocese has their own records (marriage, baptism, confirmations, sacramental records, parishioner records, etc.) but some may have been transferred to the diocesan office.  After checking with the parish of interest (if known), check the diocesan website (https://dioceseofspokane.org/archives2) to read a brief history of the diocese and what records are in their archives department and list of parishes.  Currently Rev. Mike Savelesky is archivist and available by appointment only at (509) 358-7300 or (509) 358-7336.  The diocesan office is located at 525 East Mission Avenue in Spokane. 


The two oldest Catholic churches in the area are St. Joseph’s on West Dean Avenue and Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral on Riverside Avenue.  The Cathedral was originally also named St. Joseph’s, so for records prior to about 1919 check both for possible records.  St. Joseph’s on Dean Avenue was established about 1890 and the building now standing was constructed in 1910.


Keep in mind when researching any church records, their primary mission is religious, so be patient when requesting access.  Their office hours may be limited and the records may be offsite.  Contact by phone or email will clarify what and when records are available.  Be specific as to what records and the time period you are interested in in order to help the staff find what you want.  Also, since most parishes are run by charitable donations, consider asking about the cost of copies and the time they spent finding what you want.  You might not be able to just peruse their records so ask about their procedures for research.


In the early years when there were few priests or churches, people wanting their marriages performed by the church or their children baptized, etc., they may have gone some distance from their homes to get the church’s blessings.  For instance, I know of one couple who traveled 30 miles from their homes to another state to get their marriage solemnized in a Catholic church.  So consider that also when searching for records. 


In Washington state there is also the Yakima Catholic Diocese that covers several counties of east central Washington.  Check out their website also if you are researching in that area.  The third diocese in Washington is the Seattle Archdiocese with an informative website.  The entire state of Idaho is in one diocese; see their website for information.  In the United States, Roman Catholic dioceses vary in size and location so check the internet for the area of interest. 

No comments: