Guide to LSHA collection 669

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Collection (fondas) 669 is a document collection at the Lithuanian State Historical Archives (LSHA), containing large number of Roman Catholic church records (baptisms, marriages, deaths) for many churches in Lithuania. Parts of this collection have been made available online as a part of "Digital Reading Room" project by the Archives, launched in the beginning of 2022. It is expected that more records will be added in the future.

This document explains how to locate the records in collection 669 (more specifically, its inventory 1). As usual, depending on the period, records may be in Latin, Polish, Russian, German and Lithuanian languages, so you need to have at least some basic knowledge of those, to be able to navigate them.

Locating case numbers

First step in finding the records is locating the case (byla) numbers, corresponding to a particular church and year. For now we will focus on inventory (apyrašas) 1 of collection 669, since it contains most church books of the collection (by far), and has a church index, making it much easier to locate the relevant books. In order to use it, you will need to know the Lithuanian name of the parish you are interested in.

To find case numbers, download the volume of the church index corresponding to the (Lithuanian) name of the church/parish:

Open the downloaded file, and use the index at the beginning to find the starting page for a specific church/parish. If the church is not mentioned, then this particular inventory does not have any records for it (you are out of luck). Otherwise, go to the starting page of the index.

The index page you reached should look like this:

The church/parish name is at the top of the page. The three pairs of columns correspond to births (Gimimas), marriages (Santuoka), and deaths (Mirtis). Within each pair the first column contains the year, while the second one is the case number you are looking for. Note it for the next step. In this particular example, the Varniai church records for year 1794 are contained in cases 64 (births/baptisms), 68 (marriages), and 66 (deaths). Sometimes multiple case numbers are specified for the same year, in that case the records are split across multiple cases, and you will need to check all of them.

Locating the book in the Digital Reading Room

Navigate to the search interface for the Digital Reading Room, and switch to English using the top-right language menu. Click on "Search" tab, then on the "Advanced Search" link, located to the right of the search box. Input the following values:

Then scroll down and click the search (magnifying glass) button, to perform the search.

If everything was done correctly, you should get one result for the case you are researching. If you are in luck, the result entry will contain the scan of the book cover as a thumbnail, like this:

In that case you can click on the result to access the book online. If instead of a scan thumbnail you get a grey text box, then the book is not available online. There is a chance that it will become available later, but there is no way to predict when/if that will happen.

Locating the records within the book

Most of the books available in the Digital Reading Room are deanery or diocese ones, which means that they typically contain records for a number of different churches for a given year. Once you open the book for viewing, you can usually find a church index at the beginning (it is not necessarily in alphabetical order!), which will tell you the starting page for records of a particular church. For example, it may look like this:

Unfortunately, the format of these indexes is not uniform, which makes this step somewhat tricky. For some books they are provided only in Russian or Polish, they may also be damaged, incomplete, or missing completely.

Clicking on the highlighted icon will open the page navigation panel, which allows you to quickly jump to the page of interest. Note, though, that the page numbers given in the book index refer to book's page numbers, not the scan numbers displayed on the book viewing interface. These do not necessarily match, so you may need to explore a bit, to locate the necessary book's page number. It is typically hand-written in the top-right corner of the scanned page.

In many cases the block of records for a particular church contains an alphabetical list of names at the end of the year, so it is always worth checking for that.


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