Episcopal Church in the United States

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History in the United States[edit | edit source]

Saint John’s Episcopal Church
Wilmington, California

The Episcopal Church is the United States version  of the Anglican Church  or Church of England. It is also known as Protestant Episcopal Church. It was well-established in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and a few other English colonies in North America in the 1600s. It was very strong in colonial times, especially in the Southern states, even to functioning as a state church.

The Reformed Episcopal Church broke off from the main church in 1874. The Anglican Catholic Church broke off from the main church in 1977. The Anglican Church in North America was formed in 2000.

Anglican Religion Family Tree[edit | edit source]

This Anglican Family Tree diagrams the relationship of different offshoots of the church.

Finding Records[edit | edit source]

Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • There are thousands of entries of digitized Episcopal church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog state-wide, county-wide, or for a 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 statewide records:
a. Enter your state name in the "Place" search field of FamilySearch Catalog. You will see a list of topics and, at the top, the phrase "Places within United States, [STATE]".
b. Click on "Church records" in the topic list. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
  • To find county-wide records:
c. From the original page, click on Places within United States, [STATE] and a list of counties will appear.
d. Click on your county.
e. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
  • To find town records:
f. From the list of counties, click on Places within United States, [STATE], [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
g. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
h. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
i. 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.

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriage, and death registers are kept at the current individual 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.

Addresses:

Records of defunct churches are kept in each diocese archives.

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]

  • Archives of the Episcopal Church
606 Rathervue Place (P.O. Box 2247)
Austin, Texas 78768
Telephone: 512-472-6816
Fax: 512-480-0437
E-mail: research@episcopalarchives.org
Website

Virginia Theological Seminary
  • Virginia Theological Seminary
Archives of the Bishop Payne Library
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304
Telephone: 703-461-1731
E-mail: AskArchives@vts.edu
Websites

Houses many of the original Church of England (now Episcopalian Church) parish registers, vestry books, and manuscripts of colonial Virginia, as well as photos, and the African American Episcopal Historical Collection.[1] Formerly known as the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia.

Suite 406
2296 Henderson Mill Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30345-2739
Telephone: 800-914-2000
Voice: 770-414-1515
Fax: 770-414-1518
List of parishes and other affiliates

800 Maplewood Avenue (P.O. Box 447)
Ambridge, PA 15003-0447
Telephone: 724-266-9400
Fax: 724-266-1129
Email: admin@anglicanchurch.net

Information in Records[edit | edit source]

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • fathers' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence

Ministers[edit | edit source]

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 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.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Archives in Virginia Theological Seminary (accessed 5 January 2014).