FAQs Catholic Witness Index

Title Question Answer
faqs 827 Will CWI always be free to the public?

If you've put your hard work into this, you will want to be sure it is not resold or made unavailable to the public due to any future commercial contract. I can assure you that CWI will always be free to use and available openly. My ambition is to share the index as widely as possible, so it may also appear in some commercial sites if it makes finding their records easier, but this would never be an exclusive arrangement. If I am unable to host the index on a website personally, I am still committed to make this openly available even if that means some files that are available for free download somewhere like the internet archive and this allowing anyone to host it on a website.

faqs 629 Which years and places are we starting on?

We are starting with Liverpool around the time of the Great Famine, partly because I have Liverpool Irish ancestors :) and partly because many Irish moved to the city at this time and it is likely to be of use to the greatest number of researchers. These records are available via ancestry (£). These are the RC churches and periods I'm suggesting we start with although you may nominate any others in any place if you prefer


Liverpool (baptisms and marriages):

  • St Anthony's, Scotland Rd
  • St Peter's, Seel St
  • St Patrick, Park Place
  • St Anne, Overbury St
  • St Nicholas
  • St Swithin
  • St Joseph, Grosvenor St


faqs 628 Where are the images if I want to work remotely?

Any batches listed for indexing will be available at one or more family history website such as Ancestry, Findmypast or Familysearch. You may need an account and/or subscription to access these. Sometimes, these are available via public library membership.

faqs 627 What if I find I can no longer commit to indexing a batch?

That's no problem at all. Simply "release" the batch via the button in your volunteer home page. It will then be available for others to complete. I hope to find a way to flag which records have been done to avoid duplicate effort. 

faqs 626 Why do you have to index from the original entry or an image of it?

We ask you to do this for two reasons. First, if you used another index, there may be errors in it that we don't want to repeat. Besides which, the indexes often don't list the witnesses which is the whole purpose of the project. Second, the indexes do not belong to you and you almost certainly be breaking the terms of any subscription you have to an online family history website by copying and pasting such entries. So please use the original.

faqs 625 How do I volunteer?

Sign up, watch the training video, choose a batch and start indexing

faqs 624 Do I need to be an expert?

Not at all. This project is crowd sourced and relies solely on the goodwill of its volunteers. Some of the handwriting in some of the registers is frankly terrible. In this case, simply record the fact in the note and do your best. It may be possible in the future to get all the entries double-checked at which point any corrections can be made. It is also intended to give searchers the ability to report an error so the record can be re-checked or enhanced baed on other information that a descendant may have.

faqs 605 What is the purpose of this project?

From my own genealogy experience, evidence of kinship within Irish families can be found by looking at who the witnesses were at Catholic baptisms and marriages. My ancestors in Liverpool were clearly using a wide family network when choosing their witnesses. Given that there are gaps in the records in Ireland, this was highly useful for understanding relationships within the wider family and providing further evidence for supporting hypotheses gathered from other records. But you can't search for your ancestors by sponsor name. So I don't know who my ancestors witnessed in their local communities and thus may be missing out on identifying these relationships which would add depth to my research.