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The REGISTERS OF VITAL STATISTICS COLLECTION consists mainly of transcripts of the Baptism and Marriage records of various churches throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The records are Pre 1892/1893 and are contained in 124 bound ledgers as well as 14 reels of 16MM microfilm.

Civil Registration started in Newfoundland in 1891-1892. Beginning at the time, all clergy were required to register, with the government, every baptism, marriage and burial conducted within their jurisdiction. Prior to 1891, no such registry existed, so the only record of a baptism, marriage or burial was the one held by the church.

During the Commission of Government in th 1930's and the 1940's, Sir John Puddester was the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and Welfare (DPHW). In the early 1940's, Sir John was apparently disturbed by the fact that the original parish registers held by some churches were in a fragile condition and that records of some other churches had already been lost due to fires.

So that the government could have some record of vital statistics prior to the start of the 1891 system of registration, he initiated a programme to have churches transcribe these pre 1891 records. The DPHW offered ten cents a name as compensation for those clergy who arranged for the transcriptions of the baptism and marriage records of their parishes. Burial records were not requested, although a few churches did submit a number of these records.

These volumes which came to be referred to as the DPHW volumnes or the "Black Books" are now part of the Government Records Collection of PANL. See Government Records Inventory GN 30/I - Register General/Registry of Vital Statistics.

The collection is not complete as many clergy/churches did not respond to the request of the DPHW to transcribe their records. The collection is predominately Protestant as only 6 of the 124 volumnes are Roman Catholic. The remainder are records of the Church of England/Anglican, Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian and Reformed Episcopal Churches

There are errors in these volumnes as there would be in any transcription project of this magnitude. Some of the original entries in church registers may not have been clearly legible. Such entries would be copied as they were interpreted by the particular transcriber.


Page Last Modified: Monday December 11, 2017 (Don Tate)
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