Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FamilySearch Publishes its First Portuguese Collection Online

Millions of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration Records Now Digitally Searchable on the Web

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch added the Brazil, Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration to its online collection—about 4.5 million new digital images. The free collection contains searchable digital images of the original birth, marriage, and death records from all of the municipalities in the state of Rio de Janeiro from 1889 to 2006. The new digital images can be searched for free at FamilySearch.org (click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot).

The published records cover births up to 1930, marriages to 1950, and deaths up to 2006. There are an estimated 18 million names in the free online digital collection. FamilySearch continues to film civil registration records in Rio de Janeiro and will update the collection as applicable.

Prior to now, the Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration records were only available in archive offices in Brazil or on microfilm through one of FamilySearch’s family history centers worldwide. FamilySearch digitized the collection—over 2,500 microfilms, spanning 117 years of vital records—and published them online for free public access.

“Now instead of ordering some of the films and traveling to a local family history center to use it, researchers worldwide can search any of the 2,500 films digitally and freely online from the comfort of their home,” said Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager. “Family history enthusiasts with Rio de Janeiro ancestors have just been handed a big-time free gift,” added Nauta.

FamilySearch’s online digital image viewer makes it easy to search the historical documents. Patrons can quickly navigate from a Rio de Janeiro municipality down to individual towns. Simply click on a town, and the images are typically divided up by birth, marriage, death, and a year range—making it very convenient to comb through the original records for that town during a specific period in search of a Brazilian ancestor from Rio de Janeiro. Digital images can also be printed or saved electronically.

“Civil registrations (Registros Civis) are the vital records made by the Brazilian government and are an excellent source of accurate information on names, dates, and vital events,” said Lynn Turner, FamilySearch collection manager records specialist for Latin America. “The new digital image collection online is extremely important for those doing genealogical research in Rio de Janeiro because they document critical events in a person’s life and cover such a large percentage of the population—and they are freely accessible to anyone with Internet access,” concluded Turner.

Civil records were kept for all the population, including the Catholics and the non-Catholics. There was a large infusion of non-Catholics in Brazil after the 1880s. The civil registration records are an important public record of this section of the population as well.

FamilySearch has the largest collection of Brazilian vital records outside of Brazil. Currently these records are available to the public on microfilm through FamilySearch’s 4,500 family history centers worldwide or affiliate public libraries. FamilySearch plans to continue expanding online access to its Brazil collections. Pernambuco and ParanĂ£ will be the next state civil registrations added to the collection.

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