Endangered Archives

EAP783: Digitisation, preservation and dissemination of parochial books and matrimonial records prior to the establishment of the Civil Registry in Peru

Melecio Tineo Morón, Bishopric of Huacho
2015 award - Major project
£13,039 for 18 months

Archival partner: National Archive of Peru

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Project Overview

This project carries on from the earlier project EAP333. The main objective of this project is to digitise the 273 parish books and 47 marriage books dating from 1900 to 1940 of the parishes that make up the Diocese of Huacho: the provinces of Sings, Huaral, Huaura, Barranca, Oyon and Cajatambo, north of Lima, and which have a population of over half a million inhabitants. These documents are of great value as in the majority of cases they are the only records of birth, death and marriage that exist for citizens of Peru. The series of records called parish statistics will also be digitised, dating from the 17th to 20th century, with much value for research.

In 1852 the Civil status records were created but this function was first entrusted to Governors, and then to the municipalities, under the supervision of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic. Consequently, the records of the Civil State in Peru lacked a hierarchical organisation as their offices and files were dispersed in more than 2,500 locations, with no national or regional registers of births, deaths or marriages. For this reason the majority of citizens born before 1940 have great difficulty locating their records.

In many cases these books are of a very poor quality of paper and in very bad conditions of conservation before being brought to the Archive of the Diocese of Huacho. Their constant use exposes them to a greater deterioration, hence the need to ensure their preservation through digitisation and protect them with appropriate boxes.

A special case is the provinces of Oyon, Cajatambo and Ambar, hit by the terrorist violence in the 1980s which affected the Peru. In these towns, the municipalities were burned in an effort to eliminate the presence of the State, thus destroying the Civil Registry books. The records of the bishopric are thus the only means available for people in search of baptism, deaths and marriages records.

The digital copies will be deposited with the National Archive of Peru; the Archive of the Bishopric; and the British Library.

Project Outcome

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as:

  • EAP783/1 Digitisation, preservation and dissemination of parochial books and matrimonial records prior to the establishment of the Civil Registry in Peru (1900-1940)

The catalogue is available here