Ohio Church Records

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

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

By 1900 the prominent denominations in Ohio were Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian. There were also groups of Baptists, Lutherans, and Society of Friends. [1][2] Religion in Ohio was an early and important factor in settlement. The first Moravian mission was established in 1772. Presbyterians and Quakers were in the state at an early date, the latter having established forty-three monthly meetings and settlements between 1801 and 1883. The Presbyterians founded seventeen towns between 1784 and 1799. Baptists, Congregationalists, several reformed groups, Lutherans, Disciples of Christ, United Brethren, Methodists, and Catholics arrived prior to 1850. By 1890 the latter two denominations were the largest in the state. The Methodist circuit in Ohio was organized in 1798, with circuit riders traveling from log cabins to camp meetings across the territory. In 1831 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints migrated from New York to Kirtland in Lake County. [3]

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]

Ancestry.com Indexes[edit | edit source]

Dutch Reformed[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

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

Shakers[edit | edit source]

Roman Catholic[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, Ohio.
b. Click on Places within United States, Ohio 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, Ohio [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]

  • The Records of American Baptists in Ohio, and Related Organizations. WorldCat[4]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

  • In Guide to the Manuscript Collection of Early Ohio Methodism: United Methodist Church of Ohio you will find additional help in locating Methodist records. FHL Book 977.1 K23h; fiche 6017063[5]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

  • Historical Records Survey (Ohio). Inventory of the Church Archives of Ohio Presbyterian Churches. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1972. Family History Library films 854488, 899320-22.

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.

Historical Societies[edit | edit source]

Ohio Historical Society
Ohio History Center
800 E. 17th Ave.
Columbus Ohio, 43211


Western Reserve Historical Society
10825 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Phone: (216) 721-5722
Email: info@wrhs.org

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
E-mail: reg6archives@capital.edu

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Methodist Historical Commission
L.A. Beeghly Library
Ohio Wesleyan University
43 Rowland Avenue
Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: (740) 368-3285

Moravian[edit | edit source]

  • The Northern Province Moravian Archives
41 West Locust Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Phone: 610.866.3255
E-mail: info@moravianchurcharchives.org

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archives
Chancery Office
100 E. Eighth Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: (513) 421-3131
Fax: (513) 421-6225
E-mail: commdir@archdiocese-cinti.org

  • Cincinnati Roman Catholic Parish Congregational Records Online
  • Catholic Heritage Archive Scroll down to Ohio listings. Dioceses of Cincinnati and Toledo.
  • Genealogy
    • Genealogical Online Request
    • The Archives holds copies of baptism, marriage, and burial registers of every open and closed parish in the Archdiocese. Please note that the Archives does not have the sacramental registers for parishes that were once in the territory of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati but are no longer. Please contact the current diocese the parish resides in. Telephone and email requests are not accepted and we are unable to host in-person researchers.

The dioces includes the counties of: Adams, Auglaize, Brown, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Darke, Greene, Hamilton, Highland, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby, Warren.[6]

Diocese of Cleveland Archives
1404 East 9th St.
Cleveland, OH 44114
Phone: (216) 696-6525
(800) 869-6525 (Ohio only)
Fax: (216) 621-7332

The diocese includes the counties of: Ashland, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Summit and Wayne.[6]

Diocese of Columbus Archives
198 E. Gay St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 228-2457
Catholic Record Society of the Diocese of Columbus

The Diocese of Columbus created the Catholic Record Society, a group that has published a monthly journal since 1975 called The Barquilla. This journal contains articles as well as transcriptions of records (e.g. baptisms, marriages, burial records). There is a subject index that allows users to identify which journal contains desired information, and an online issues listing, which provides links to free online issues of the journal from 1975 on.

The diocese includes the counties of: Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Hardin, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Knox, Licking, Madison, Marion, Morrow, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Tuscarawas, Union, Vinton, Washington.[6]

Diocese of Steubenville Archives
422 Washington Street
P.O. Box 969
Steubenville, OH 43952
Phone: (740) 282-3631 Ext.263
Fax: (740) 282-3327

The diocese includes the counties of: Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble and Washington.[6]

Diocese of Toledo Archives
Chancery Office
1933 Spielbusch Avenue
P.O. Box 985
Toledo, OH 43697-0985
Phone: (419) 244-6711
Fax: (419) 244-4791

The diocese includes the counties of: Allen, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot.[6]

Diocese of Youngstown
Chancery Office
144 West Wood Street
Youngstown, OH 44503
Phone: (330) 744-8451
Fax: (330) 742-6448
E-mail: chancery@youngstowndiocese.org

The diocese includes the counties of: Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark and Trumbull.[6]

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

Wilmington College
Watson Library

Pyle Center 1227
1870 Quaker Way
Wilmington, OH 45177

Phone: 937.481.2345
E-mail: library@wilmington.edu

Consult the PERSI index for records published in journals.[edit | edit source]

PERSI is the Periodical Source Index and is available at Findmypast.com:PERSI., ($). It can be searched for free at any Family History Center. PERSI is an index to family and local history periodicals from 1847 to the present. Many of these periodicals publish church records. If you locate an index entry for a church, you will then need to find the periodical. Use the WorldCat.org search engine to find a library near you that carries the periodical. Library reference desks can be contacted to request a copy of articles, or you may need to hire a researcher.

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. Charles Otis Gill and Gifford Pinchot, Six Thousand Country Churches (New York, New York: Macmillan, 1919). (Family History Library book 977.1 K2g; film 908228 item 2.)
  2. Ferne Reedy Lubbers and Margaret Dieringer, Advent of Religious Groups into Ohio (n.p., 1978). (Family History Library book 977.1 K2a; film 1033939 item 21.)
  3. Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill. "Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources", Ancestry Publishing, https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/3249/, accessed 16 July 2020.
  4. Eltscher, Susan M., comp. The Records of American Baptists in Ohio, and Related Organizations. Rochester, New York: American Baptist Historical Society, 1981. (Family History Library book 977.1 A1 number 239; fiche 6088732.) Cover title: A Basic Guide to Regional Baptist Archives and Historical Resources for Ohio: Baptist Archives and Records Survey.
  5. Harter, Frances D. Guide to the Manuscript Collection of Early Ohio Methodism: United Methodist Church of Ohio. Delaware, Ohio: United Methodist Archives Center, 1980. (Family History Library book 977.1 K23h; fiche 6017063.)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.