The Balaguer Parochial Archive is only open Monday and Tuesday from 12:00-14:00 and from 20:00-21:00. Come prepared and come on time.
That being said, the priest and parish archivist were extremely friendly and welcomed our visit. After meeting the priests, he brought us to the archive, where Juan, the archivist, listened to what we wished to research, then showed us the digitization project he’s been working on for the past several years.
Each of the parish birth, marriage, and death registers (they date back to the 1600s in some cases, so there are many) have a last name index. Although this is extremely helpful, the page numbers are frequently incorrect. There’s also the possibility that the priest forgot to include an ordinance in the index. To solve this problem, Juan is going through the books page-by-page and has created his own, more accurate index. He has it in a table-format for each book, and has then scanned all the pages for the book, naming them by the written page number. He has no plans to put these records online, but they are a great on-site resource, especially with the short amount of time the archive is open. This is still a work in progress, but he had already scanned all of the individuals we were seeking.
This ensures that a patron will be able to find their ancestor in the correct book, if they’ve been included, and keeps the original records better preserved. The index is easily searchable, and Juan has a background in genealogical research, and is very good at reading the records whether they be in Catalan or Latin.
Because there were three of us there, two worked out of the actual books, while the other worked with Juan at the computer. It was an amazing experience to be able to utilize the speedy electronic index as well as to flip through the original parish books. We were able to find the baptism, marriage, and death records for several members of our client’s families.
Juan is willing to do family history lookups, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write in Spanish or Catalan, and include the specific individuals and dates you wish to know.