When searching for documents, it's important to note the difference between public, private and semiprivate documents. Public documents are available to anyone who wants to see them. Private documents are not available except to those to whom they pertain or to those with a compelling interest, such as law enforcement. The true grey area is within semiprivate documents. They are not generally available to the public yet they are also not withheld either. Baptismal documents generally fall into this grey area. Once you locate the document, it will largely depend on your reasons for requesting it that will determine your ability to access it.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Internet access
Contact the church where the baptism took place. Most churches keep records on baptisms. It will help a great deal if you know the date, even the year would help a great deal in determining if the records exist.
Search genealogy websites. If the baptism in question took place decades or even a century or two ago, you might want to contact one of the online genealogy sites and search for the baptism in question. One comprehensive site to try is Ancestry.com
Look through family papers. Often documents such as baptism certificates are passed from generation to generation. You can also look through old family Bibles. It was not unusual for Baptisms to be noted within family Bibles on the pages included for such matters.
Search newspaper archives. Prior to the 1960s, baptisms were often mentioned in the "Society" or "Life" section of local newspapers. The smaller the geographic region that the newspaper covered, the more likely it was for such material to make it into the pages.
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