Alaska Church Records

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Alaska Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
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Local Research Resources

History[edit | edit source]

The largest religious denominations in Alaska as of 2010 were the Catholic Church with 50,866 adherents, non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 38,070 adherents, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 32,170 adherents, and the Southern Baptist Convention with 19,891 adherents. In 1795, the First Russian Orthodox Church was established in Kodiak. Intermarriage with Alaskan Natives helped the Russian immigrants integrate into society. As a result, an increasing number of Russian Orthodox churches gradually became established within Alaska. Alaska also has the largest Quaker population (by percentage) of any state. Source: Wikipedia

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],, and can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Caution sign.png

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!

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngThe early government birth, marriage, and death records of Alaska were reconstituted from church records:

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Other Collections[edit | edit source]

Look for digital copies of church records listed 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, Alaska.
b. Click on Places within United States, Alaska 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, Alaska [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.

Russian Orthodox Church[edit | edit source]

Before 1900 the largest religious group in Alaska was the Russian Orthodox Church, which was introduced to the Alaskan natives in the eighteenth century by Russian fur traders.[1]

The early records of this church are the single most important source of vital records information for the state.

Bureau of Vital Statistics[edit | edit source]

Moravian, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and other denominations have more recently established missions, schools, and hospitals in Alaska. The Moravians, the second largest denomination in Alaska, settled predominantly in Bethel and along the Kuskokwim River.

  • Records for all of these groups are at the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The Bureau of Vital Statistics collects church records in order to create delayed birth certificates for individuals whose births were not officially recorded. They borrow the original church records to microfilm and return the originals to the church. The staff will do research and make copies for a fee, but requests may be denied if the information is needed for genealogical purposes.
    • A person may obtain only his or her own birth certificate, except for parents who may obtain their own child's certificate. Access to birth records becomes available to the public 100 years after the event.
    • Access to death records filed in the Bureau of Vital Statistics office is restricted for 50 years after the date of the event to family members, their legal representatives, and persons who can prove they are legally entitled.
    • Access to marriage records filed in the Bureau of Vital Statistics office is restricted for 50 years after the date of the event to the persons named on the certificate, their legal representatives, and persons who can prove they are legally entitled.
  • For Catholic and Presbyterian information, write to the local church instead because the Bureau's records are restricted.
  • Most Methodist records are also at the local churches.
  • The Family History Library has a few Presbyterian records.

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.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

ELCA Region 1 Archives
Archives and Special Collections
Mortvedt Library
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447

(253) 535-7586

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

Moravian[edit | edit source]

Alaska Moravian Church
P.O. Box 312
Bethel, AK 99559
Phone:(907) 543-2478

For Aleknagik and Dillingham:
Dillingham Moravian Church
P.O. Box 203
Dillingham, AK 99576
Phon: 907-842-5477

  • More recent church records are held by the pastor in charge of a district within the church.

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau
225 Cordova Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 258-7898
Fax: (907) 279-3885

The Archdiocese includes the geographic areas of: Aleutians East, Aleutians West, Anchorage, Bristol Bay, Dillingham, Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island, Lake and Peninsula, Matanuska Susitna and Valdez Cordova.[2]

Diocese of Juneau
419 Sixth Street
Juneau, AK 99801
Phone: (907) 586-2227
Fax: (907) 463-3237
Archives and Special Projects

The diocese includes the geographic areas of: Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan Gateway, Prince of Wales Outer Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway Yakutat-Angoon and Wrangell Petersburg.[2]

Diocese of Fairbanks
Chancery Office
1316 Peger Road
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone: (907) 474-0753
Fax: (907) 474-8009
Sacramental Archive keeps birth, marriage, and death records.
Online Sacramental Record Request Form

The diocese includes the geographic areas of: Bethel, Fairbanks North Star, Nome, North Slope, North West Artic, Southeast Fairbanks, Wade Hampton, Yukon-Koyukuk.[2]

The Sisters of Providence Archives
(Hospital Records)
4800 37th Avenue S.W.
Seattle, WA 98126
Phone: (206) 937-4600
Fax: (206) 938-6193

Russian Orthodox[edit | edit source]

St. Herman's Theological Seminary
414 Mission Road
Kodiak, AK 99615
Phone: (907) 486-3524
Fax: (907) 486-5935

Missions[edit | edit source]

Iqurmuit Traditional Council (Russian)
PO Box 9
Russian Mission, AK 99657
Phone:(907) 584-5511
Fax: (907) 584-5593

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. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 K2ah.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wikipedia article, "List of Catholic Diocese of the United States.