Indiana Church Records

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Before 1900, the largest religious groups in Indiana were the Roman Catholic, Methodist Episcopal, Christian (Disciples of Christ), and Baptist churches.[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],, 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!

Dutch Reformed[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Quaker[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, Indiana.
b. Click on Places within United States, Indiana 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, Indiana [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.

Online[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • Rudolph, L. C. and Judith E. Endelman. Religion in Indiana: A Guide to Historical Resources. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press, 1986. FHL Collection book 977.2 K23r. This book contains an excellent bibliography of published works, a list of repositories for the different denominations, and histories of congregations.
  • Rudolph, L. C. Hoosier Faiths: A History of Indiana Churches and Religious Groups. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995. FHL Collection book 977.2 K2ru. This describes general history and Indiana history, and includes biographies of significant local leaders of 50 major religious groups. It is indexed.

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.

Indiana Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 10507
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46852-0507

Amish[edit | edit source]

Elkhart and Lagrange Counties in northeastern Indiana are home to the third largest concentration of Amish in North America.

Community Directories[edit | edit source]

The Amish in several communities in Indiana have published directories of their communities at regular intervals from the 1980s to the present, including Elkhart-Lagrange-Noble Counties, Adams-Jay Counties, Allen County and Vicinity', and Nappannee-Kokomo-Milroy. These volumes feature a wealth of information for each family, including husband’s name, wife’s maiden name, the names of each spouse’s parents, children’s names, dates of birth for each individual, children’s marriage partners, the family address, husband’s occupation, and notations of whether each child is living at home, married and living within the community, married and living in another Amish community, single and living outside the family home, or has left the Amish faith. The directories also include history of the communities and maps showing locations of Amish homesteads and schools.

Amish Archives[edit | edit source]

Mennonite Historical Library
Harold and Wilma Good Library
Goshen College
1700 South Main Street
Goshen, Indiana 46526

Phone: (574) 535-7418
Fax: (574) 535-7438

The archives houses the official records of the Mennonite Church and personal papers of Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish and other Anabaptist groups.

Mennonite Historical Library
Harold and Wilma Good Library
Goshen College
1700 South Main Street
Goshen, Indiana 46526

Phone: (574) 535-7418
Fax: (574) 535-7438
The collection of the Mennonite Historical Library includes genealogy resources, history books and Mennonite periodicals.

Mennonite Church USA Archives
3145 Benham Ave, Suite 1
Elkhart, IN 46517

Telephone: 574-523-3080

Baptist[edit | edit source]

Indiana Baptist Collection
Franklin College Library
101 Branigin Blvd
Franklin, IN 46131-2623
Phone: (317) 738-8162 or 1-(800) 852-0232
Fax: (317) 738-8787

Disciples of Christ[edit | edit source]

Christian Theological Seminary Library
1000 W. 42nd St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Phone: (317) 924-1331
Fax: (317) 923-1961

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

ELCA Region 6 Archives
Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University
2199 East Main Street
Columbus, OH 43209-2334

Phone: (614) 236-6855

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

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Archives of DePauw University and Indiana United Methodism
Roy O. West Library
11 E Larabee St
P.O. Box 37
Greencastle, IN 46135-0037
Phone: (765) 658-4406
Fax: (765) 658-4423

The Family History Library has some Indiana Methodist histories and church records. Try a title search in the FamilySearch Catalog for "Indiana Methodist"

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Archives of the Presbyterian Church of Indiana
Duggan Library
P.O. Box 287
Hanover, IN 47243-0287
Phone: (812) 866-7165
Fax: (812) 866-7172

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngThe records of all four Roman Catholic dioceses in Indiana are available on digitized microfilm at the Family History Library. These records include the dioceses of Evansville, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Gary, and Lafayette, plus the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, all to about 1916. They have been digitized and can be used at a Family History Center near you.

Archdiocese of Indianapolis Archives
1400 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

The Archives can respond to genealogical research requests that take less than 1 hour to complete, with a maximum of 6 requests permitted each year. The archives has some older sacramental records, but it is not a complete listing for each parish. There is no single database containing sacramental records that is searchable by name. The archives can provide copies of available sacramental records originating prior to 1930. Sacramental records for individuals who are or may still be living are considered confidential; requests for these records must be directed to the parish and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Parke, Perry, Putnam, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Switzerland, Union, Vermillion, Washington, and Wayne.[3]

Diocese of Evansville
4200 N. Kentucky Ave.
P.O. Box 4169
Evansville, IN 47724-0169
Phone: (812) 424-5536

The diocese includes the counties of: Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, and Warrick.[3]

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Archbishop Noll Catholic Center,
915 South Clinton
P.O. Box 390
Fort Wayne, IN 46801
Phone: (260) 422-4611

The diocese includes the counties of: Adams, Allen, Dekalb, Elkhart, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, Steuben, St. Joseph, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.[3]

Diocese of Gary
9292 Broadway
Merrillville, IN 46410
Phone: (219) 769-9292

The diocese includes the counties of: Lake, LaPorte, Porter and Starke.[3]

Diocese of Lafayette
P.O. Box 260
Lafayette, IN 47902-0260
Phone: (765) 742-4852

  • Records for the Diocese of Lafayette have been digitized and can be used at a Family History Center near you. For recent records not digitized, contact each local parish.
The diocese includes the counties of: Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Delaware, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Howard,Jasper, Jay, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Newton, Pulaski, Randolph, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Warren, and White.[3]

University of Notre Dame Archives Repository
607 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

Phone: (574) 631-6448

Catholic Church records collected by Francis P. Clark of Catholic parishes that closed during the 1950s and following Vatican II throughout Kentucky and the Ohio Valley. During this era, when many Catholic parishes would close, the priests would throw out their old record books. Patrick developed relationships with priests throughout the region and personally visited closing parishes and collected record books, ephemera, and photographs which he later donated to the Notre Dame University Archives where he worked as supervisor of the microfilm department.

Society of Friends (Quakers)[edit | edit source]

Lily Library
  • Friends Collection
    Earlham College
    Lilly Library
    801 National Road West
    Richmond, Indiana 47374-4095
    Phone: 765 983-1743
Covers Indiana and Western and Northern Yearly Meetings

  • Heiss, Willard. Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana, 6 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana Historical Society, 1962-1977. FHL Collection book 977.2 K28h; FHL Collection fiche 6051380-386. This includes records of births, marriages, deaths, removals, dismissals, and memberships. Another source
  • Nelson, Jacquelyn S. Indiana Quakers Confront the Civil War. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 1991. FHL Collection book 977.2 H2n. Appendix C lists Indiana Friends (Quakers) who served in the Civil War. For each man, it generally lists birth date, parents’ names, monthly meeting and county thereof, company, regiment, rank, and death date.

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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. William Chamberlin Hunt and United States Bureau of the Census, Religious Bodies: 1906 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), Vol. 1:309-311. Digital version at Google Books.
  2. Davis points out that not all ministers participated, see: Robert S. Davis, "Some Baptist Ministers of South Carolina at the Turn of the Century," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Winter 2004):13-22. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 32
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.