How to Interpret a Birth Record?

Standard Entry in a Birth Record

Latin Terms Appearing in the Form

Pag. (page number)              Liber natorum(Book of births)

1906 (the year 1906)

Dies et Mensis (Day and Month)

Natus (Birth) Baptisatus (Baptism)

Numerus Domus (House Number)

Nomen (Name of Baptized)

Religio (Religion)

Catholica (Catholic)

Ant Alia (Non Catholic)

Sexus (Sex)

Puer (Boy)

Puella (Girl)

Thori (status of legitimacy)

Legitimi (Legitimate)

Illegitimi (Illegitimate)

Parentes (Parents) Pater (Father) Mater (Mother)

Nomen et cognomen (Name and Family Name) Conditio (Condition, or Profession and other information such as birthplace, current residence or death information). Patrini (Godparents)

__________________________________________________

NOTES: The parish priest kept a record of all baptisms and births in the parish. Before 1784 the records for all the villages in the parish were kept together. However, after 1784, records for each particular village were kept separately. They may have been bound in the same book, but a separate listing for each village was organized alphabetically by village, year by year.

When searching for ancestors, never concentrate solely on one village, or even one parish for that matter. Although it’s commonly thought that people never moved great distances outside their birth village, you will find people often marrying into families in neighboring villages and/or parishes.

Numerus Serialis or Nr. posit. (Serial Number or Position Number)

Often the first column to the left is found the Serial or Position Number.  The priest numbered each record of baptism/birth sequentially: (1, 2, 3, etc.).  Each year the priest started over with number one. This was done to show that no one’s name could have been added or removed at a later date.

Dies et Mensis Natus et Baptisatus  (Day and Month of Birth and Baptism)

You should note both of these dates and not just the birth. Make sure that you mark it correctly as either the birth or the baptism, depending on which one of the two is present.

Be careful when noting the month and year. Often the month and year is not written for each and every person’s listing, only the date. Carefully backtrack to the last month and year listed. Do so carefully so as to not skip a month or year and mark the wrong one down. Be careful of this especially when researching at an archive where photocopying is not available. Unlike using microfilm at a local Family History Center, you may not easily have a chance to return to the originals to verify your note-taking.

The months will usually be in Latin. This should not be a problem if the month is written out as the Latin resembles the English. In older Greek Catholic records, you may find the month in Church Slavic. Again, this will be easy IF you can read the Cyrillic alphabet since the Church Slavic terms also resemble the English.  For a list of months in different languages

 

English Latin Polish Ukrainian (Cyrillic) Ukrainian (transliterated)
January Januarius (Ianuarius) styczeń січень sichen’
February Februarius luty лютий liutyi
March Martius marzec березень berezen’
April Aprilis kwiecień квітень kviten’
May Maius (Majus) maj травень traven’
June Junius (Iunius) czerwiec червень cherven’
July Julius (Iulius) lipiec липень lypen’
August Augustus sierpień серпень serpen’
September September wrzesień вересень veresen’
October October październik жовтень zhovten’
November November listopad листопад lystopad
December December grudzień грудень hruden’

Numerus Domus (House Number)

One of the most interesting features of the records from Galicia/Halychyna during the years of the Austrian rule (1772 – 1918) is the House Number.

The House Number is the number of the house where the particular event took place, e.g.. birth, marriage or death. One can quickly run down this column and look for specific house numbers to easily find ancestors. Also, it’s a great way to track movement of families within the village.

Often, a house was occupied by several families. One can easily find other families living in the same house as your own ancestors. This clue would take you to research that other family’s line back to see if there is a connection to your own family. Without seeing the House Number, you might not have known to take this course of action.

House Numbers were usually assigned chronologically, with No. 1 being in the center of the village or near the church or at one end of the village. The numbers increase as they numbered the houses out from the center or church or across to the other end of the village.

As a new house was built, it got the next number in sequential order. As you can imagine, soon the order of the numbering lost it’s specific geographic location. So, House Number 95 may be on the opposite side of the village from House Number 96. Earlier numbers, though, maybe next to each other if the houses were next to each other at the time the numbering system for that village was developed.

There are certain misconceptions about the House Number that must be mentioned. One should not jump to conclusions or over estimate the real value. Keep in mind that many births occurred at a neighbor’s, relative’s or even the midwife’s house. Therefore, the house number that was recorded by the parish priest on the record may not necessarily be the family’s home.

For marriage records, many times only one House Number was written down by the priest, usually the groom’s House Number.

Nomen Baptisati (Name of Baptized)

This is the name of the person born and baptized. Sometimes a person was given two names. This was not a common custom, but can be seen occurring in the middle to late 19th Century. This was noted by the priest in Latin “binom” or “binominus”. This is NOT two different children, but one and the same child.

Twins were noted by the term “gemelli” if they were two boys or one boy and one girl. The term “gemellae” was used if both were girls. Usually, each of the twins would have a godfather and godmother. (Sometimes, even more than one of each!)

Next to the name you may find a drawn cross. This means that the newborn died shortly after birth. It may be the same day or even weeks later. The specific date can only be determined by studying the Death Records for the same village and parish. Sometimes, a date was added right next to the cross signifying the date of death.

Religio (Religion) Catholica/Accatholica or Catholica/Ant Alia (Catholic/Non Catholic)

This is self explanatory. Sometimes, you may find the abbreviation “r.l.” or “r.g.” in this column or next to the person’s name. “r.l.” stands for Latin Rite (or Roman Catholic) and “r.g.” stands for Greek Rite (or Greek Catholic/Ukrainian Catholic).

Sexus (Sex) Puer/Puella (Boy/Girl)

This is self explanatory. This information can be used to help you identify the sex of the name, which may be useful to someone not familiar with Latin (or Polish/Ukrainian) first names.

Thori or Legitimi/Illegitimi (Legitimate/Illegitimate Status)

In the case of illegitimate births, the father’s name was not listed. It either will not be listed at all or it may read “Pater Ignotus” (meaning “Unknown Father” in English). Everyone in the village, including the priest, may have known who the real father is, but since the document is legal both in terms of state and church law, the father can not be proven of the birth of a child to an unwed mother.

Parentes (Parents) Or Pater (Father)/ Mater (Mother) sometimes included Conditio (literally Condition, or Profession) and other information such as birthplace, current residence or death information.

Here the priest listed the names of the parents.

Records vary greatly, from year to year, priest to priest and parish to parish, as the extent of names, generations, professions, and other information written down.

Sometimes, only the father’s and mother’s first name with the father’s surname is listed. This makes for difficult research, especially along the mother’s line.  Sometimes, the parents of the parents’ names are given, both with the maiden names of the women, or without.

Example of an entry

(Latin)  Joannes Ivanczuk filius Procopi et Mariae.  Mater: Fewronia filia Gregorii et Oiniae Pilipiak.  agricola loc.

Ivan Iwanchuk son of Prokopyi and Maria.  Mother: Fevronia daughter of Hryhoryi and Oryna.  local farmers.

For showing maiden names, you may find these various Latin terms:

Anna de Majewska de “of”
Anna de domo Majewska or Majewskich de domo “of the house of”
Anna ex Majewski ex “from”
Anna nata Majewska nata “born (with the maiden name)”

Patrini (Godparents) Sometimes includes Conditio (Profession)

The priest wrote down the names of the Godparents, at least one Godfather and one Godmother. In some cases there may have been more than one. One can check for connections between the family of the newborn and the Godparents. Of course, this can be difficult due to the lack of information on the Godparents provided. (As noted before, there is a great possibility that there were several people in the same village with the same exact name, even with the same age.) However, the Godparents can lead to clues and further research on your family history.

Note that the married Godmother’s maiden name is not usually given. Sometimes, her husband is listed with the Latin phrase “uxor“, meaning “spouse of…”

Also, it is important to note that each godparent usually has an “X” mark next to his/her name.  This does not mean “deceased” as in the case of the newborn.  Here the Cross symbolizes that he/she is a baptized Christian.

Bottom Line of Record

Also found within the baptismal/birth record is some other information that you may find interesting, if not helpful.

Obstetrix (Midwife) sometimes abbreviated as “Obs.”

Obstrx et supra: In stead of writing the same information over and over again, the priest may have written “ut supra” or “qui supra” which means that this information is repeated from the line above.

Name of Priest who performed the baptism. There is sometimes an additional statement written by the priest: “Ego to baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti” “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.

The priest may sign his name.

You may find these Latin terms: In absteto: Another priest, either from a neighboring village or different Rite.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *