Kentucky Church Records

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Kentucky Wiki Topics
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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Before 1900 the largest religious groups in Kentucky were the Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian 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.

Online Books[edit | edit source]

Baptist[edit | edit source]
Catholic[edit | edit source]
Olson, Mary M. A Complete Index to Webb’s Centenary of Catholicity in Kentucky: Including an Appendix on All Catholic Churches and Missions in Kentucky. Rineyville, Ky.: M.M. Olson, 1983. FHL book 976.9 K2w index
Methodist[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, Kentucky.
b. Click on Places within United States, Kentucky 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, Kentucky [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.

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]

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Archives and Special Collections
Boyce Centennial Library
2825 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40280

It has Baptist Church histories and Southern Seminary information and photographs. It also has minutes from Baptist Churches and Baptist Church associations. Mostly the records are from Southern Baptists, but there are also records from American, "colored," and Primitive Baptist congregations. Minute books do not contain birth, marriage, or death information. They may, however, help to verify the membership of an individual, tell if someone was disciplined for offenses, or track the movement of a minister.

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]

The state of Kentucky is covered by two Methodist conferences that oversee the missions and business of the church. The Kentucky Annual Conference oversees the majority of the churches in Kentucky, while the Redbird Missionary Conference oversees the state’s Southeastern counties. The conferences have collected records from churches that have closed. Records of existing congregations are generally still in the churches.

Kentucky Annual Conference
2000 Warrington Way
Browenton Building, Suite 28
Louisville, KY 40222-340
Telephone: 1-502-425-388
Fax: 1-502-426-5181

Redbird Mission Conference
6 Queendale Center
Beverley, KY 40913
Telephone: 1-606-598-5915
Fax: 1-606-598-6405

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

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.

Records of existing Catholic parishes are generally kept in the individual churches, though copies of the sacramental records are sent to the appropriate diocese.

Diocese of Covington

Records are maintained at the parish level.
The Diocese of Covington serves the following Kentucky counties: Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Fleming, Gallatin, Grant, HarrisonKenton, Lewis, Mason, Owen, Pendleton.[2]

Diocese of Lexington

Records are maintained at the parish level.
The Diocese of Lexington serves the following Kentucky counties: Anderson, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Bourbon, Boyle, BreathittCarter, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Estill, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Garrard, Greenup, Harlan, Harrison, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Scott, Wayne, Whitley, Wolfe, Woodford.

Archdiocese of Louisville

Records are maintained at the parish level.
The Archdiocese of Louisville serves the following Kentucky counties: Barren, Bullitt, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, Hardin, Hart, Henry, Jefferson, Larue, Marion, Meade, Metcalfe, Monroe, Nelson, Oldham, Russell, Shelby, Spencer, Taylor, Trimble, Washington.

Diocese of Owensboro

Office of Archives and Records
McRaith Catholic Center
600 Locust Street
Owensboro, KY 42301


The Archives currently holds registers that contain sacramental records dating from 1868 to 1996 for approximately 23 parishes, missions, and religious communities within the current boundaries of the Diocese of Owensboro. The bulk of these records date from the mid-1870s through the 1940s, and most were created by parishes that are now closed or merged with other parishes. This link has a complete browsable list of records available.

The Diocese of Owensboro serves the following Kentucky counties: Allen, Ballard, Breckinridge, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Daviess, Edmonson, Fulton, Graves, Grayson, Hancock, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, McCracken, McLean, Marshall, Meade, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Simpson, Todd, Trigg, Union, Warren, Webster.

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