Delaware Church Records

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Delaware Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Delaware Background
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Local Research Resources

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

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As of 2014, Delaware is mostly Christian. Although Protestants account for almost half of the population, the Catholic Church is the largest single denomination in the state. The Association of Religion Data Archives reported in 2010 that the three largest denominational groups in Delaware by number of adherents are the Catholic Church at 182,532 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 53,656 members reported, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with 22,973 adherents reported. The religious body with the largest number of congregations is the United Methodist Church (with 158 congregations) followed by non-denominational Evangelical Protestant (with 106 congregations), then the Catholic Church (with 45 congregations).

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware oversee the parishes within their denominations. The A.U.M.P. Church, the oldest African-American denomination in the nation, was founded in Wilmington. It still has a substantial presence in the state.

Delaware is home to an Amish community that resides west of Dover in Kent County, consisting of nine church districts and about 1,650 people. The Amish first settled in Kent County in 1915. In recent years, increasing development has led to the decline in the number of Amish living in the community.[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]

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.

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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[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com[edit | edit source]

Other Collections[edit | edit source]

Catholic[edit | edit source]

Community of Christ, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Quaker Society of Friends[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • Raymond B. Clark's, Delaware Church Records, contains baptisms, marriages, deaths, and tombstone inscriptions from several churches including Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Quaker churches for the period 1686-1880. A copy of the book can be found in the FHL Collection. purchase options. For a copy nearest you, check WorldCat.
  • Frederick Lewis Weis's The Colonial Clergy of Maryland, Delaware, and Georgia, is an alphabetical listing of the clergy in Delaware from 1638-1776, and includes names, dates, and places. A copy of the book is located in the FHL Collection. For a copy nearest you, check WorldCat.

Amish[edit | edit source]

Allen B. Clark's, This Is Good Country: A History of the Amish of Delaware, 1915-1988, has information about the European beginnings of the Mennonite and Amish groups, their migration, and settlement in Delaware. It also includes traditions, names and dates. A copy of the book can be found in the FHL Collection. To locate the copy nearest you, try WorldCat

Look for digital copies of church records listed 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, Delaware.
b. Click on Places within United States, Delaware 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, Delaware [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.

Lutheran and Protestant Episcopal[edit | edit source]


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.


Delaware Public Archives
121 Duke of York Street
Dover, DE 19901

Telephone: 302-744-5000
Fax: 302-739-2578
E-mail

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Diocese of Wilmington Archives
P.O. Box 2030
Greenville, DE 19899
Telephone: (302) 655-0597
E-mail: skirkryan@cdow.org

The Diocese of Wilmington consists of the Delaware counties of Kent, New Castle and Sussex. The diocese also covers the following counties in Maryland: Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, KentQueen Anne, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester.[2] 

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:

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. "Delaware:Religion", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delaware#Religion, accessed 29 June 2020.
  2. Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.