Haiti Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Haiti, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The 2017 CIA Factbook reported that around 54.7% of Haitians profess to being Catholics while Protestants made up about 28.5% of the population (Baptist 15.4%, Pentecostal 7.9%, Seventh-day Adventist 3%, Methodist 1.5%, other 0.7%). Other sources put the Protestant population higher than this, suggesting that it might have formed one-third of the population in 2001. Like other countries in Latin America, Haiti has witnessed a general Protestant expansion, which is largely Evangelical and Pentecostal in nature. [1]

Haiti was first colonized by the Spanish, who later abandoned the island's western portion. That region came under French influence after 1630, and was formally recognized as the French colony of Saint-Domingue in 1697. Under French rule, Roman Catholicism was the sole legal religion, though African slaves frequently practiced voodoo. Slaves revolted in 1791 and established the first black republic in 1804. Three years later Protestant missionary activity begun.

Protestant churches and sects have frequently attempted to coordinate their activities through organizations like the Council Churches in Haiti and the Protestant Federation. The Roman Catholic Church later participated in the Ecumenical Research group of 1968. The practice of voodoo is strong in Haiti and some voodoo practitioners advocate being included in any ecumenical gatherings. [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]

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 Haiti.
b. Click on Places within Haiti 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. See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.


Anglican Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Holy Trinity parish was established in Port-au-Prince on Pentecost, May 25, 1863. Its church has since been destroyed six times. The first church was set on fire by Sylvain Salnave in 1866; possibly the second, and definitely the third, were destroyed by fire in 1873; yet another by fire on July 4, 1888; and a fifth by fire on July 5, 1908. Construction of the sixth Holy Trinity began in 1924.

In 1864, the first Diocesan Synod was held. Then known as the Haitian Apostolic Orthodox Church, it was recognized as a member of the Anglican Communion in 1870. The Diocese of Haiti formally joined The Episcopal Church of the United States on May 15, 1875. [3]

Baptist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

There are over 1,000 Baptist churches in Haiti, many of which don't have buildings, but just meet in homes. "Baptist" is more a description of churches, not a title or even a distinct affiliation. While there are some attempts at establishing consolidated "umbrella" groups, none of these are all-encompassing. This makes it impossible to provide a comprehensive list of church addresses.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Baptist Convention of Haiti is a grouping of local Baptist churches from various missionary backgrounds, including the American Baptist Churches and the Southern Baptist Convention. The Baptist Convention of Haiti has its origins in a mission of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1823 in Cap-Haïtien. In 1923, the American Baptist Home Mission Society established and worked at the union of Baptist churches. The Convention is officially formed in 1964.

In 1994, it established the Christian University of Northern Haiti in Limbé.

In 2010, it has 112 churches and 50,000 members.[4]

Baptist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

There are over 1,000 Baptist churches in Haiti, many of which don't have buildings, but just meet in homes. "Baptist" is more a description of churches, not a title or even a distinct affiliation. While there are some attempts at establishing consolidated "umbrella" groups, none of these are all-encompassing. This makes it impossible to provide a comprehensive list of church addresses.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Baptist Convention of Haiti is a grouping of local Baptist churches from various missionary backgrounds, including the American Baptist Churches and the Southern Baptist Convention. The Baptist Convention of Haiti has its origins in a mission of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1823 in Cap-Haïtien. In 1923, the American Baptist Home Mission Society established and worked at the union of Baptist churches. The Convention is officially formed in 1964.

In 1994, it established the Christian University of Northern Haiti in Limbé.

In 2010, it has 112 churches and 50,000 members.[5]

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch[edit | edit source]

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Dioceses of Santo Domingo and Concepción de la Vega were founded in 1511, and the island of Hispaniola that Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, was divided between these bishoprics. Many regular clergy came with the French into the French territory, especially the Dominicans and the Capuchins. The Dominicans devoted themselves especially to the mission in the western part of the colony, and were for a time supported therein by other orders and secular priests.

The Haitian Revolution brought an end to the first wave of evangelization. When the leader of the revolution Toussaint L'Ouverture came to power in 1800, he restored the rights of the Catholic Church. But tensions increased as poverty spread, mistreatment of slaves was common, and a class system grew between a French-speaking Catholic minority and the poorer Creole majority. The Haitian slaves revolted in 1804. After a massacre in 1804, nearly all the clergy left the colony.

After years of negotiations, a concordat between the Catholic Church and the Haitian government was signed on 28 March 1860. The concordat provided that the Catholic Church would have the special protection of the Government. Because of diseases in the tropical climate, many of the clergy died. By 1906, out of 516 priests who had come from France since 1864, 200 had died, 150 were still at their posts, and the rest were invalided to Europe.

After the American Occupation ended in 1934, there was a constant struggle for power between the Catholic Church and the followers of voodoo. The small number of priests and members of religious institutes in the 1930s ministered mainly to the urban elite. The clergy have generally directed their energies more toward educating the urban population than toward eradicating voodoo. In the 1970s and the 1980s, the use of Creole and drum music became common in Catholic services. Incorporating folk elements into the liturgy, however, did not mean that the Catholic Church's attitude toward voodoo had changed. In everyday practice, many people incorporate both Catholicism and voodoo together.

The mid-1980s marked a profound change in the church's stance on issues related to peasants and the urban poor. Reflecting this change was the statement by Pope John Paul II, during a visit to Haiti in 1983, that "Things must change here". Galvanized by the Vatican's concern, Catholic clergy and lay workers called for improved human rights. Lay workers helped develop a peasant-community movement, especially at a center in the Plateau Central.

See, Wikipedia: Catholic Church in Haiti for further details.

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]

Members have been in Haiti since 1977. The first Church member in Haiti was Alexandre Mourra, who, after reading the Book of Mormon, traveled to Florida from his home to be taught and baptized by the missionaries on 30 June 1977.

On 2 July 1978, 22 Haitians were baptized in Hatte-Maree, near Port-au-Prince. In September of that year, J. Frederick Templeman of the Canadian embassy arrived. He and Alexandre Mourra helped organize the first branch (a small congregation), which was created in October 1980 in Port-au-Prince.

Missionary work opened in Haiti in May 1980 under the direction of the West Indies Mission. In 1982, 12 missionaries were serving in Haiti.

A branch was created in Petionville on 31 March 1981, with Alexandre Mourra as president; the branch was divided in 1982. At that time, the Haiti District was created and four missionaries were sent to Cap Hatien. [6]

Pentecostal Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Holy Trinity parish was established in Port-au-Prince on Pentecost, May 25, 1863. Its church has since been destroyed six times. The first church was set on fire by Sylvain Salnave in 1866; possibly the second, and definitely the third, were destroyed by fire in 1873; yet another by fire on July 4, 1888; and a fifth by fire on July 5, 1908. Construction of the sixth Holy Trinity began in 1924.[2]

In 1864, the first Diocesan Synod was held.[2] Then known as the Haitian Apostolic Orthodox Church, it was recognized as a member of the Anglican Communion in 1870. The Diocese of Haiti formally joined The Episcopal Church of the United States on May 15, 1875.[2] The first Haitian bishop of the diocese was Luc Garnier.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s work in Haiti began in 1879 when John Loughborough sent a box of Adventist literature on a ship to the port town of Cap Haitien. Loughborough didn’t address the box to anyone in particular, so the ship’s captain delivered it to an Episcopal missionary living in the city. The missionary distributed its contents to some other Protestant missionaries, one of whom, a Baptist minister, handed out some of the pamphlets to his congregation. Two members of that congregation, Henry Williams and his wife, started keeping the Sabbath as a result. It was another 10 years before they met an Adventist. In 1892 L. C. Chadwick visited Haiti and baptized the Williamses.

From these humble beginnings, the Adventist Church in Haiti has grown and is strong. Today more than 300,000 Adventists, some 4 percent of the population, live in Haiti. There are close to 1,000 churches and companies, 270 elementary schools, two secondary schools, a university, and a hospital. Many of the churches have three or more services to accommodate all the people who attend.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Haiti", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiti, accessed 23 February 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Christianity in Haiti", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Haiti, accessed 23 February 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Episcopal Diocese of Haiti", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Episcopal_Diocese_of_Haiti, accessed 23 February 2020.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Baptist Convention of Haiti", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptist_Convention_of_Haiti, accessed 23 February 2020.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Baptist Convention of Haiti", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptist_Convention_of_Haiti, accessed 23 February 2020.
  6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: COUNTRY, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics/country/haiti, accessed 23 February 2020.
  7. "Into Haiti", in "Adventist World", https://archives.adventistworld.org/2010/november/into-haiti.html, accessed 23 February 2020.