Alabama Church Records

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Alabama Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Alabama Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources
First Presbyterian
Birmingham, Alabama

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Alabama is located in the middle of the Bible Belt, a region of numerous Protestant Christians. A majority of people in the state identify as Evangelical Protestant. As of 2010, the three largest denominational groups in Alabama are the Southern Baptist Convention, The United Methodist Church, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant. Many Baptist and Methodist congregations became established in the Great Awakening of the early 19th century, when preachers proselytized across the South. The Presbyterian churches were strongly associated with Scots-Irish immigrants of the 18th century and their descendants.[1]

Information Found in the Records[edit | edit source]

To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content. Click on these links to learn about a specific record type:

Finding the Records[edit | edit source]

Look for online records.[edit | edit source]

Some records have been digitized and posted online, where they are easily searched. These are listed at the top of this page and on the Alabama Online Genealogy Records page.,, and can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available. Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, relationships, and other details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

Anglican/Episcopal Collections[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Methodist Collections[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Other Collections[edit | edit source]

Look for digital copies of church records in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The Family History Library (FHL) has a substantial collection of original church records and transcripts on microfilm for churches in the United States.
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under the state, county, or town.
  • If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
  • Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
  • To find records:
a. Click on the records of United States, Alabama.
b. Click on Places within United States, Alabama and a list of counties will appear.
c. Click on your county if it appears.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Click on Places within United States, Alabama [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
f. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
g. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
h. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Consult available finding aids.[edit | edit source]

These aids generally provide lists of records that are known to exist and information on their location.

Baptist Records[edit | edit source]

Episcopal/Anglican Records[edit | edit source]

  • Inventory of the Church Archives of Alabama: Protestant Episcopal Church. Birmingham, Alabama: Alabama Historical Records Survey Project, 1939. This gives the location of each church with a brief history and describes the types and years of records that existed for each congregation in 1939. Information on record location usually gives the name and address of the 1939 rector, though it no longer applies. Generally, the records are stored with the current rector; so if the address given is the church itself, it still applies.

Presbyterian Records[edit | edit source]

  • Hall, James H.B. The History of the Cumberland, Presbyterian Church in Alabama Prior to 1826 - Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 4 (1904):365-394. Digital version at Internet Archive. Identifies "minute books" available for early Presbyteries. The early Presbyteries did not keep records of baptisms, marriages, and burials.

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]

Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.

  • Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
  • To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
  • Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
  • A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
  • If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
  • See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
  • Each denomination page offers an online address directory of local churches for that denomination.

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.

Here you will find archive information unique to the state. Many more archives are kept by denomination. For denominational archives, go to Searching for Church Records by Denomination.

Birmingham Public Library[edit | edit source]

Birmingham Public Library
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
Phone:(205) 226-3600

  • Alabama Episcopal Church Records. 1830's to 1970's. Index. The original parish registers are preserved in the Archives of the Birmingham Public Library as part of the records of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. This database includes all information found in the registers. The registers are available to the public, but because of their age and fragility, it is not possible to make copies of pages from the registers.

University Archives[edit | edit source]

Samford University Library
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229


State Archives[edit | edit source]

Alabama Department of Archives and History
Montgomery, Alabama

Alabama Department of Archives and History
P.O. Box 300100
624 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36130


Collection includes: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile; family records 1700-1860, some Catholic school records, some Catholic newspapers, Catholic cemetery records, and funeral home records.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

James R. Crumley Jr. Archives
4201 Main St.
Columbia, SC 29203

Phone: 803-461-3234

  • Archives hold records for closed churches. For open churches write directly to the local church.

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

All records are maintained in the local parishes.

The diocese includes the counties of: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman , DeKalb, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston.[2]

Cathedral Basilica
of the Immaculate Conception
Mobile, Alabama

"The records for the Cathedral parish from 1704-1739 have been published and are available for purchase by mail. Until more of our records are published, the archives will try to honor requests for individual sacramental information as staff/volunteer time is available.

  • Make each request in writing using this form. Print it, fill out as completely as possible for each record requested, and mail.
  • There is a $10 fee to search for each sacramental record requested. This is for the search, so it is payable regardless of whether we are able to find the record.
  • Please mail all forms with payment for the total number of requests.
  • We can only supply the information contained in the sacramental record (translated where applicable), not an official certificate and not a copy of the original entry.
  • We will not honor requests for research of general family lines." (In other words, request a specific event, but don't ask them to find everything about a family at once.)

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Russell, Washington and Wilcox.[2]

Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held. To find a society near you, consult these lists:

Next, go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination.[edit | edit source]

There are frequently additional, nationwide or regional archives and online collections for each denomination. Find the article for your ancestors' denomination and follow the instructions there to access these sources.

Wiki Articles for Records of Major Religious Denominations

Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Alabama", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed May 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.