Albania Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Albania not discussed in this article, go to the Religious Records page.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Church records were recorded by church clergymen and include baptism, marriage, and burial registers. These parish registers include Roman-Catholic and Greek-Orthodox congregations. Church books are a primary source of birth, marriage, and death information for Christian ancestors from Albania. They identify names of parents, prove relationships, and are very useful for linking generations. It is important to remember that historically only about 30% of the Albania's population was Christian. [1]

The most-commonly practiced religion in Albania is Islam (mainly Sunni or Bektashi), the second-most-commonly practiced religion is Christianity (mainly Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant), however there are also many irreligious people.

Albania is constitutionally a secular country since 1967, and as such, "neutral in questions of belief and conscience": The former Communist dictatorship declared Albania as the world's first and only "Atheist state". Believers faced harsh punishments, and many clergymen were killed.[2]

Coverage[edit | edit source]

The earliest church records date from about 1700; many date from the late 1800s. Most churches continued to keep records until the latter 1940s. Many continued until 1950 when ruthless persecution of clergy and religion brought an end to the keeping of these records. A few churches kept records as late as 1967. Only 30% of the population was Christian, so the majority of Albanians will not be found in these records.

Content[edit | edit source]

  • Baptisms – name of individual, date of birth and baptism, names of parents (including mother's maiden name), names of godparents.
  • Marriages – names of the groom and bride, ages, date and place of marriage; sometimes birthplaces and parents of groom and bride; names and residences of witnesses; other pertinent facts.
  • Deaths and Burials – name of the deceased, date and place of death and burial, age at time of death, marital status, cause of death, name of spouse; for children often also parents’ names.
  • Other Lists – confirmations, nuptials and proclamations, church census, chronologies, masses observed, bestowal of property, leases, church correspondence, visitations, statistics, etc. Some of these additional lists date from as early as 1600.
Approximate distribution of religions in Albania in the early 1900s, based on the 1908 Ottoman census and the 1918 Albanian census.

Accessing the Records[edit | edit source]

Some Church records may be with local parishes or Dioceses. Responsibility for keeping these records lies with the Central State Archives of Albania in Tiranë which has many of the older church records. These archives are accessible to scholars. Some records may also be in other storage facilities. Additionally, some church records may have been acquired by civil registration offices or kept by the church. Unfortunately there has been considerable loss of church records in Albania.

The Family History Library has microfilmed 30% of Albania's church records, including most of the existing records of the district of Shkodër.

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Albania.
b. Click on Places within Albania and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. Use Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters. Then, use an Albanian translation service.

Roman Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

In the 2011 census, about 10.03% of Albania's population declared Roman Catholic Christianity as of 2011 census.Albania once numbered eighteen episcopal Sees, some of them having uninterrupted activity from the dawn of the Catholicism until today. The country has been a Roman Catholic bridgehead in the Balkans, with Catholic Albanians playing a role not unlike the Croats in the former Yugoslavia. However, Ottoman rule ultimately vastly decreased the number of Catholics in Albania and elsewhere in the Balkans, with waves of conversions to Islam and to a lesser extent Orthodoxy occurring especially in the 17th century after a series of failed rebellions and punitive measures which involved drastic raises in the taxes of the Catholic population.[3]

Eastern Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

These do not necessarily show three different churches, but just responses to different keywords used in the search engline--lots of overlap.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

According to the 2011 Census, 6.75% of the Albanian population adhere to the Albanian Orthodox Church. Three ethnic groups, Albanians, Greeks, and Aromanians, account for the vast majority of Albania's Orthodox believers. Metropolitan Theofan Fan Noli established the Albanian Orthodox Mission under the American diocese. The Orthodox Church was allowed no official existence in communist Albania. Between 1890 and 1920, approximately 25,000 Albanians, the majority of them Orthodox Christians from southeastern Albania, emigrated to the United States, settling in and around Boston. Like many other Orthodox immigrants, they were predominantly young, illiterate, male peasants. Like so many other Balkan immigrants, a large number (almost 10,000) returned to their homeland after World War I.[4]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited Albania in 1991 and sent the first Latter-day Saint missionaries there in June 1992. These missionaries included four who preached and one married couple who assisted with agricultural projects. In 1994 Albania was among the Eastern European nations receiving shipments of food and other humanitarian relief supplies from the Church. Church leaders established the Albania Tirana Mission in July 1996. Total Church Membership: 3,216. Congregations: 14. [5]

Greek Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Written Background[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Albanian Greek Catholic Church exists in southern Albania and is under an Apostolic Administration. It has less than 4,000 members. The Albanian Greek Catholic Church, also known as the Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church, is an autonomous (sui iuris in Latin) Byzantine Rite particular church in communion with Rome, whose members live in Albania and which comprises the Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania. It is not to be confused with the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church. The apostolic administratorship of Southern Albania has 3,200 Catholics in nine parishes, with 11 churches, and is served by four diocesan and 10 religious priests, 10 male and 97 female religious, who administer 10 schools and 20 charitable institutions. The great majority of these are of the Roman Rite.[6]

Protestant Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

In the early 19th century, in accordance with the Protestant practice of making the Scriptures available to all people in their common tongue, the British and Foreign Bible Society began to make plans for the translation, printing, and distribution of the New Testament in Albanian. Soon Alexander Thomson, a Scottish missionary, joined the Society and visited Albania in 1863. In the late 19th century the Society's workers traveled throughout Albania distributing Bibles, under the leadership of Gjerasim Qiriazi who converted, preached the Gospel in Korça, and became the head of the first "Evangelical Brotherhood". Qiriazi sought official government recognition for the Albanian Evangelical Church in 1887, a pursuit which would not be fulfilled until 10 March 2011. [7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Albania,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1991-1998.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Albania", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 14 April 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Albania", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 14 April 2020.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Albania", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 14 April 2020.
  5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: Brazil,, accessed 14 April 2020.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Albanian Greek Catholic Church", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 14 April 2020.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Albania", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 14 April 2020.