United States Church Records

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How do I research United States Church Records?
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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

The Value of Church Records in U.S. Family History[edit | edit source]

  • Church records are a valuable source for proving the dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths and the identity and relationships of family members.
  • They are particularly important prior to the start of each state government keeping birth, marriage, and death certificates.
  • To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content by reading the Wiki article, What Can I Find in U.S. Church Records? An understanding of content will guide your research strategy.
Old Stone Church
West Boylston, Massachusetts
Photo by Richard B. Johnson.

Prepare by Collecting Background Information[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 gathering 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.

Where Did Your Ancestors Worship?[edit | edit source]

The United States is a country of diverse denominations. Knowing the denomination of your ancestor is an important part of church records research. Start by learning how to search a variety of records for clues to the denomination, locality, and possibly even the specific names of churches where your ancestors worshipped.
Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngFollow the tips in the Wiki article, Determining the Church Your Ancestor Attended.

How to Find Church Records in the U.S.[edit | edit source]

Because of separation of church and state in the United States, there are no central government repositories for church records. Some will be digitized and available online. Others may be deposited in

  • state, college, or ecclesiastical archives;
  • with historical or genealogical societies;
  • local libraries; or
  • still at the local church itself.


Basic Strategies for Finding Church Records[edit | edit source]

  • For a thorough list of strategies, go to the Wiki article, How to Find Church Records in the United States. Learn the many different sources to locate church records with helpful links for each source.
  • Then come back to this page to choose an article on searching for records of a particular denomination and an article for records available for the state where your ancestors resided.

Two Important Ways to Search for Church Records[edit | edit source]

Searching for Church Records by Denomination[edit | edit source]

The links below for each denomination will take you to a Wiki articles with:
  • Lists of online record collections
  • Descriptions of typical records for that denomination
  • Directories for addresses and instructions for writing to local ministers
  • Addresses for denomination archives, with
    • collection descriptions,
    • notes on services available,
    • finding aids, and
    • search engine links.
Presbyterian Historical Society
Wiki Articles for Records of Major Religious Denominations

Searching for Church Records by U.S. State[edit | edit source]

These links will take you to Wiki articles for each U.S state, where you will find:

  • Lists of online record collections
  • A brief history of major religions in the state
  • Instructions and links to the FamilySearch Library catalog to search by locality for records
  • Contact information, website links, collection descriptions, and services available for
    state, university, society, and local church archives within the state

Alabama Department of Archives and History
Montgomery, Alabama
Wiki Articles for Church Records for Each U.S. State
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming