Georgia (country) Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Georgia (country), go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The wide variety of peoples inhabiting Georgia has meant a correspondingly rich array of active religions. Today most of the population in Georgia practices Orthodox Christianity, primarily in the Georgian Orthodox Church whose faithful make up 82.4% of the population. Around 1% belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, while about 3.9% of the population follow the Armenian Apostolic Church (Oriental Orthodoxy), almost all of which are ethnic Armenians. Adherents of Islam make up 10.7% of the population[3] and are mainly found in the Adjara and Kvemo Kartli regions and as a sizeable minority in Tbilisi. Catholics of the Armenian and Latin churches make up around 0.8% of the population and are mainly found in the south of Georgia and a small number in Tbilisi. There is also a sizeable Jewish community in Tbilisi served by two synagogues.[1]

Parish Registers[edit | edit source]

Record type: Church records kept by parish priests of births/baptisms, marriages, and deaths/burials; term also used to mean religious vital records of denominations without parishes.

General: The material was created after the establishment of the Georgia-Imeretia Orthodox Synod in 1814. In registers before 1875, multiple parishes are filed for each year. After 1875, there are multiple years for the same parish.

Time period: 1817-1921.

Location: Most centralized at the National Archive in Tbilisi.

Percentage in Family History Library: 100% (1817-1921).

Population coverage: 55% coverage for early periods; 80% coverage for the 19th century.

Reliability: High.[2]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name



How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

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

Percentage in Family History Library: 100% (1817-1921).[2]

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 Georgia (Republic).
b. Click on Places within Georgia (Republic) 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 a Georgian translation service.

Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Be sure to check all the pages. There are several pages with 20 listings each.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia, commonly known as the Georgian Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Church of Georgia, is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church in full communion with the other churches of Eastern Orthodoxy. It is Georgia's dominant religious institution, and a majority of Georgian people are members. The Orthodox Church of Georgia is one of the oldest churches in the world. It asserts apostolic foundation, and its historical roots must be traced to the early and late Christianization of Iberia and Colchis by Saint Andrew in the 1st century AD and by Saint Nino in the 4th century AD, respectively.

Orthodox Christianity was the state religion throughout most of Georgia's history until 1921, when it was conquered by the Russian Red Army during the Russian-Georgian War and became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). The current Constitution of Georgia recognizes the special role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the country's history, but also stipulates the independence of the church from the state. Government relations are further defined and regulated by the Concordat of 2002. The Concordat notably recognizes Church ownership of all churches and monasteries, and grants it a special consultative role in government, especially in matters of education.

Many churches and monasteries have been rebuilt or renovated since independence, often with help from the state or wealthy individuals. Apart from the Georgian Orthodox Church, Christianity in Georgia is represented by followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.[3]

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Roman Catholics in Georgia belonged to the Tiflis deanery which was also in the Diocese of Tiraspol. The Catholic Church in Georgia, since the 11th-century East–West Schism, has been composed mainly of Latin-Rite Catholics; Catholic communities of the Armenian Rite have existed in the country since the 18th century. A Georgian Byzantine Rite Catholic community, though small, has existed for a number of centuries.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Georgian Catholics were some 50,000. About 40,000 of these were of Latin rite, the others mainly of Armenian rite. Canonically, they depended on the Latin diocese of Tiraspol, which had its headquarters at Saratov on the Volga.

In the brief period of Georgian independence between 1918 and 1921, some influential Georgians expressed an interest in union with the Church of Rome, and an envoy was sent from Rome in 1919 to examine the situation. As a result of the onset of civil war and Soviet occupation, this came to nothing. In 1920 it was estimated that of 40,000 Catholics in Georgia, 32,000 were Latins and the remainder of the Armenian rite.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a Latin Rite apostolic administration (pre-diocesan jurisdiction) of the Caucasus was established on 30 December 1993, with headquarters in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, with a territory including Georgia, Armenia and until 2001 Azerbaijan. It estimates the number of its faithful as 50,000, a number very similar to that given for Georgian Catholics of all rites in 1914.

Georgians of Armenian Rite are in the care of the Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe, which was established on 13 July 1991, covering a vast area including Russia and Ukraine, much vaster than Georgia, which has some 400,000 faithful in all.[4]

The Armenian Catholic church in the Transcaucasian region had four deaneries: Akhaltsykh-Atskhur (previously part of the Tiflis province of Russia, now in Georgia), Akhalhalak (previously part of the Tiflis province of Russia, now in Georgia), Lori (previously part of the Tiflis province of Russia, now split between Georgia and Armenia), and Alexandrapol (previously part of the Erivan province of Russia, now in Armenia) within the the Diocese of Tiraspol. This diocese was originally created on 3 July 1848 and was called the Diocese of Kherson until 1852. Prior to 1848 the area belonged to the Archdiocese of Mohilev.[5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Georgia (country)", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Georgia_(country), accessed 16 April 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Georgia (Republic),” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 2000.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Georgian Orthodox Church", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_Orthodox_Church, accessed 16 April 2020.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Catholic Church in Georgia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_in_Georgia, accessed 16 April 2020.
  5. "Saratov Rusarchives", http://saratov.rusarchives.ru/bd/herson/akc.html, accessed 16 April 2020.