Florida Church Records

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Before 1900 the largest religious groups in Florida were the Baptist, Methodist-Episcopal (now United Methodist) and Roman Catholic.[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]

Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com 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!

FamilySearch[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com[edit | edit source]

Dutch Reformed[edit | edit source]
Lutheran[edit | edit source]
Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Catholic: Other Collections[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, Florida.
b. Click on Places within United States, Florida 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, Florida [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[edit | edit source]

Catholic[edit | edit source]

  • McAvoy, Thomas T. Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Records of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas, 1576-1803. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Archives, 1976. FHL Book 973 K23m.

Methodist[edit | edit source]

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.

Baptist[edit | edit source]

Florida Baptist Historical Society
5400 College Drive
Graceville, FL 32440
Phone: (800) 328-2660, x-480

The Florida Baptist Historical Society has secured and developed nearly 970 histories of active and deactivated congregations. The Church Histories Collection runs the gamut of published works to file folders with information gleaned from a variety of sources.
This collection contains biographical information and photographs of select Florida Baptist pastors and significant laity leaders. These files consist of information gleaned from actual biographical sketches prepared by the respective individual to information gleaned from back issues of the Florida Baptist Witness and other publications or documented sources. These biographical files, which number nearly 2,500 records, have become an invaluable source of information for use in historical research and to respond to inquiries from churches and individuals.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

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

Phone: 803-461-3234
E-mail: crumleyarchivist@gmail.com

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

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Florida United Methodist Archives
Roux Library - Florida Southern College
111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive
P.O. Box 3767
Lakeland, FL 33801-5698
Phone: (863) 680-4164

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

  • 1576-1803 - Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas 1576-1803 Searchable Database
    • Letters and other records (1576–1803) of this Roman Catholic jurisdiction before the purchase of Louisiana by the United States. Items include a 1793 dossier containing royal instructions regarding marriages between Protestants and between Protestants and Catholics, a 1795 copy of Governor Carondelet’s report to Spain giving an account of parishes in Louisiana, parish census reports, and dossiers pertaining to the disposal of slaves by the Ursulines.
    • McAvoy, Thomas T. Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Records of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas, 1576-1803. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Archives, 1976. FHL Book 973 K23m.

Most records are maintained in the local parishes, not the diocese archives.

Archdiocese of Miami

9401 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami Shores, FL 33138
Telephone: (305) 757-6241
Fax: (305) 754-1797

  • Records are maintained in the local parishes, not the diocese archives. Click on "Parishes" in the top menu bar.

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe.[2]

Diocese of Orlando Archives

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1800
Orlando, Florida 32802-1800

Physical Address:
50 East Robinson
Orlando, Florida 32801

Telephone: 407-246-4800
Fax: 407-246-4942
E-mail: cbrinati@orlandodiocese.org

The diocese includes the counties of: Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia.[2]

Diocese of Palm Beach

9995 N. Military Trail
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Phone: (561) 775-9500

The diocese includes the counties of: Indian River , Martin , Okeechobee , Palm Beach and St. Lucie . [2]

Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Office of the Chancellor

11 North B St.
Pensacola, FL 32502
Phone: (850) 435-3500

The diocese includes the counties of: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.[2]

Diocese of St. Augustine Archives

P.O. Box 3506
St. Augustine, FL 32085
Phone: (904) 823-8707 or (904) 806-2131

The diocese includes the counties of: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee and Union.[2]

Diocese of St. Petersburg

6363 9th Ave. N
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Phone: (727) 344-1611

The diocese includes the counties of: Citrus, Hernondo, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas.[2]

Diocese of Venice
1000 Pinebrook Road
Venice, FL 34285
Phone: (941) 484-9543

The diocese includes the counties of: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota.[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.

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References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972). FHL Book 973 K2ah.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.