United States Church Records
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The Value of Church Records in U.S. Family History[edit | edit source]
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
- military service details
Carefully 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.
Follow 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
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:
|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: