Christian Church Records in Turkey

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These are records of births/baptisms, marriages, and deaths/burials maintained by Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, and Roman Catholic parishes. The earliest church records date from about 1600; many date from the mid-1700s or early 1800s to present or until the parish was closed. Church records are a primary source of birth, marriage, and death information for Christian families in Turkey. They identify names of parents, prove other relationships, and are very useful for linking generations.

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  • Baptisms – names of individuals, birth dates and baptismal dates, parents’ names (including often the mother's maiden name and sometimes even names of grandparents)
  • Marriages – names of candidates; their fathers' names, date and place of marriage, ages; sometimes birthplaces, witnesses’ names and residences; other pertinent facts
  • Deaths and Burials – names of deceased persons, death dates and places of death and burial; ages; marital status; spouse’s name, sometimes cause of death; for children, also parents’ names
  • Property Bequests [vakfiye defter] – Information on property bequeathed to the church (Armenian Apostolic) and the donors

Many Armenian church records are now held by the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate in Istanbul, the Armenian Catholic Archbishopric in Istanbul, the Greek State Historical Archives, Athens; some are possibly in Turkish provincial archives. Likely locations for Roman Catholic records include the Office of the Apostolic Pronuncio in Ankara, the Office of the Apostolic Vicar for the Latins in Istanbul, and the Curia of the Bishop of İzmir; some records may be under the jurisdiction of the priests of any still-existing parishes. The Family History Library has microfilmed about 5% of Turkey's church records. These include Greek Orthodox records filmed in Athens as well as Armenian records for the area in and around Istanbul.

It is very likely that many Christian records have been lost. Armenian records are particularly likely to have been destroyed during the violence against Armenians in the 1920s. Many Greek Orthodox records have been removed to Greece where they are kept under standard archival conditions and most have already been microfilmed. Church records may also to be found in local parishes, community offices, and archives in Turkey. If such records can be found, It may be possible to get access to information from these records through personal visits or correspondence. Realistically, access would vary depending on the religion, ethnicity, location, and the record holder.

Family History Library: Parish registers and notes, 1763-1959 Church of England in Turkey. Anglican Chaplaincy (Smyrnaa)