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Restricted scans of church books

This article details which principles the National Archives must follow in regards to restricting access to church books, as well as which evaluations form the basis of such decisions.

In the article covering restricted scans in the Digital Archives, we explain the types of information the National Archives are not permitted to publish on the open internet. To mitigate the risk of publishing such information, the national archives employ the following principles in regards to restricting various list types in the scanned church book content.

Births and Baptisme are freely available up to, and including 1929. From 1930 births and baptisms are blocked for 100 years.

From 1935, so called "full adoptions" were introduced, requiring the complete severance of contact with the biological parents. For these types of adoption cases, a 100-year duty of confidentiality exists. In some births and baptism lists, the priest may note information pertaining to the adopted child, including the identify of its biological parents. This information also carries of 100-year duty of confidentiality. In addition, some priests may have entered additional information pertaining to children adopted up to the age of 5. This information would be added retroactively to the birth and baptisms lists as far back as 1930, which means these lists must remain restricted until 2030.

Information regarding adoptions from 1935 or later, has also been found to occur in births and baptisms lists prior to 1930. In such cases, the National Archives will restrict these individual pages of the births and baptisms lists prior to 1930.

The National Archives must restrict more pages than those with concrete adoption information. A child may have been adopted after a baptism, without the priest noting this in the church book, such that said child is recorded alongside its biological parents. It is impossible for us to discover this, but for individuals with knowledge of the child or its parents, it would be possible to identify when an adoption has taken place. The principle of restricting these lists from 1930 is therefore strictly enforced.

Confirmations has been blocked for 86 years due to the consideration of possible information about "strong" adoptions in particular and information about religious affiliation in general.

Marriages, Engagements and Banns/Proclamations is freely available until 1949. F.o.m. In 1950, these categories were blocked for 82 years. The fact that someone has married is not in itself sensitive, but the priests have in some cases noted information that cannot be freely published. Birth and social security numbers, as well as membership in religious communities, are examples of such information.

Deaths and burials, Cremated are restricted for 80 years. The reason for this is due to the nature of the death, which in a number of cases can be of a sensitive nature. This applies especially to information about inheritable illnesses that could indirectly infer health information about the descendents of the deceased. In addition, the National Archives must take into consideration information about suicides, stillbirths and other causes of death; the publication of which can be damaging to bereaved family members.

At the end of the 1930s, it ceased to be the priest's duty to record a cause of death, but many priests continued with this practice. As a result of this, it is possible for us to make later lists available, but it would require us to review all the church books to determine if cause of death has been recorded or not.

Still-borns are restricted for 80 years.

Restricted scans automatically released at new year

In the Digital Archives, each image of a spread in the church books is indexed by list type and year; e.g "Confirmations 1935". Also registered is the when the image should be made freely available, something which is automatically calculated, but can be overridden manually if required. This means that pages are controlled automatically, and when the clock strikes midnight on 31st December 2017, "Deaths and burials 1937" will be published automatically.

Enrolled/unenrolled by denominations are blocked for 100 years.

Dissenters, are blocked for 80 years (dead and stillborn), 82 years (married) and otherwise for 100 years. Information about religious beliefs is defined in the Personal Data Act as sensitive personal information and must not be published freely available on the Internet.

Additional attachments can contain information pertaining to adoption cases, and are thus treated in the same fashion as birth and baptism lists; i.e that such attachments are freely available up to, and including 1929. Such attachments from after 1930 can be opened manually, however this requires that the National Archives first check the content to ensure that the contained information can be made freely available. Such checks are however, not prioritized.

Other church book lists remain unrestricted.

The National Archives will periodically review their principles for restricting scanned church book content.