Missouri Church Records

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Missouri Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Missouri Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Roman Catholic churches were established in Missouri in the colonial era. Records for St. Louis, for example, date from 1765. Many other denominations came after 1800 with the arrival of various immigrant groups. By 1900 the largest religious groups in Missouri were the Roman Catholic, Baptist, Christian (Disciples of Christ), and Methodist Episcopal (now United Methodist).

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 Indexes[edit | edit source]

Catholic[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Quaker (Society of Friends)[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, Missouri.
b. Click on Places within United States, Missouri 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, Missouri [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]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

  • Seaton, Richard A. History of the United Methodist Churches of Missouri. Missouri Methodist Historical Society, 1984; FHL Book 977.8 K2hs

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.

Non-Denominational[edit | edit source]

Ruth E. Browning abstracted names and events from The Christian Messenger and created an every name index. The Christian Messenger was a religious newspaper during the 1800's which included "letters with information about the churches, obituaries, death notices, names of subscribers, letters from preachers, etc."[1]  The information abstracted from this newspaper came from several counties in Missouri.

St. Louis County Library[edit | edit source]

History & Genealogy
St. Louis County Library

1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63131

Phone: 314-994-3300

Baptist[edit | edit source]

Missouri Baptist Historical Society
William E. Partee Center
William Jewell College Archives
500 College Hill
Liberty, MO 64068
Phone: (816) 781-7700 ext.5468
Fax: (816) 415-5027

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Genealoger: Missouri Lutheran Church Records

History & Genealogy
St. Louis County Library

1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63131

Phone: 314-994-3300

Bethany College Archives
Wallerstedt Library
335 E. Swensson Street
Lindsborg , Kansas 67456-1897

Phone: (785) 227-3311, Ext. 8342
E-mail: carsond@bethanylb.edu

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

Some materials related to the current Central States Synod territory of Kansas and Missouri may also be found in the archives of the Nebraska Synod, which are located at Midland Lutheran College, Fremont, Neb. That collection has both Augustana materials and recordsfrom the German Nebraska Synod, part of the former United Lutheran Church in America.
Luther Library
Midland Lutheran College
900 North Clarkson
Fremont, Nebraska 68025
Email: hinmanl@midlandu.edu
Phone: (402) 941-6252

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Missouri United Methodist Historical Society
Central Methodist College Library
411 Central Methodist Square
Fayette, MO 65248
Phone: (816) 248-3391 ext. 292
Fax: (816) 248-3045

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

The Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954 ($) (Ancestry). This database only contains the French Catholic parish records from the United States in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. It is the U.S. part of the U.S. and French-Canadian Drouin Collection. For more details see "The Drouin Collection: Six Databases"

Diocesan Archives[edit | edit source]

The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church, and so on. They are written mainly in French, as well as English, Latin, and Italian.

Archdiocese of St. Louis Archives
4445 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108-2497
Phone: (314) 533-1887
Fax: (314) 533-1889

  • A very small number of records were not microfilmed and must be obtained through the Archives of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Perry, St. Charles, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, St. Louis City (Independent), St. Louis County, Warren and Washington

Diocese of Jefferson City
2207 West Main Street
P.O. Box 104900
Jefferson City, MO 65110-4900
Phone: (573) 635-9127

The diocese includes the counties of: Adair, Audrain, Benton, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Chariton, Clark, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Gasconade, Hickory, Howard, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon, Maries, Marion, Miller, Moniteau, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Osage, Pettis, Phelps, Pike, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby and Sullivan

Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Archives
300 East 36th
Kansas City, MO 64111
Phone: (816) 756-1850

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 419037
Kansas City, MO 64141-6037

The diocese includes the counties of: Andrew, Atchison, Bates, Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Holt, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Platte, Ray, St. Clair, Vernon and Worth

Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
601 S. Jefferson Ave.
Springfield, MO 65806
Phone: (417) 866-0841

The diocese includes the counties of: Barry, Barton, Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Cedar, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Dent, Douglas, Dunklin, Greene Howell, Iron, Jasper, Laclede, Lawrence, Madison, McDonald, Mississippi, New Madrid, Newton, Oregon, Ozark, Pemiscot, Polk, Reynolds, Ripley, Scott, Shannon, Stoddard, Stone, Taney, Texas, Wayne, Webster and Wright

United Church of Christ[edit | edit source]

History & Genealogy
St. Louis County Library

1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63131

Phone: 314-994-3300

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. Ruth E. Browning, Name Index to the Christian Messenger at http://sherrysharp.com/genealogy/documents/christian-messenger.pdf