New York Church Records

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Old Dutch Church

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The first churches established in New York during the seventeenth century were the Dutch Reformed, French Protestant (Huguenot), and Lutheran churches. As New Englanders continued to migrate to New York, the Congregational Church (Puritans) and Society of Friends (Quakers) grew. Many New Yorkers joined both the Baptists and Presbyterians. By 1775 the Presbyterian Church was the largest denomination in New York.

In the mid-1800s, the Methodist Church was the largest, followed by the Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Dutch Reformed, Congregational, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends (Quakers), Universalist, Lutheran, Union, Christian, Unitarian, and Jewish.

Since then, the Roman Catholic Church has been the largest denomination (particularly in the larger cities) due to the large number of immigrants from Ireland and eastern and southern Europe.[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.

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]

MyHeritage Indexes[edit | edit source]

FindMyPast[edit | edit source]

Catholic Heritage Archive

Catholic[edit | edit source]

The Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

Dutch Reformed[edit | edit source]

Episcopal[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Quaker (Society of Friends)[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, New York.
b. Click on Places within United States, New York 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, New York [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.


Ann Mensch's Local Catholic Church and Family History Genealogical Research Guide is a free online resource that identifies the parishes of many New York counties, years when parishes were created, contact information, as well as links to online records and research tips. New York City has exceptional coverage.




The locations of records in these guides are as of 1940 and probably have changed if they were a private party.



The locations of records in these guides are as of 1940 and probably have changed if they were a private party.


Quakers (Society of Friends)[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.

American-Canadian Genealogical Society Library[edit | edit source]

American-Canadian Genealogical Society Library
1 Sundial Avenue, Suite 317N
Manchester, New Hampshire 03103

Tel: (603) 622-1554

Dutch Reformed[edit | edit source]

Commission on History, Reformed Church in America
Gardner A. Sage Library

New Brunswick Theological Seminary
21 Seminary Place
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Telephone: (732) 246-1779

  • Sage Library is also home to the official Archives of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). If you are looking for archival records from an RCA church, genealogical information, or documentation about RCA policies and actions, please directly contact the RCA archivist, Matthew Gasero at mgasero@rca.org.
  • Online Catalog
  • The FamilySearch collection has microfilmed and digitized copies of many of the Dutch Reformed church records from the above listed archive. The records are described in:


The Holland Society of New York Library
20 West 44th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Telephone: (212) 758-1675

An index to original baptismal records, transcripts, microfilm, and published works of 17 congregations from 24 volumes of the aforementioned Dutch Reformed Church Record Collection is Wilson Ledley, compiler, Index to Baptismal Surnames in the Reformed Churches of Claverack, Cortlandt, Fishkill, Gallatin/Ancram, Gravesend, Hillsdale/Krum, Kaatsbaan/Saugerties, Kinderhook. (New York, N.Y.: The Holland Society of New York, 1990; available in the FHL Collection.


Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Ann Mensch's Local Catholic Church and Family History Genealogical Research Guide is a free online resource that identifies the parishes of many New York counties, years when parishes were created, contact information, as well as links to online records and research tips. New York City has exceptional coverage.

Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954 ($) (Ancestry). This database contains the French Catholic parish records from New York. It is the U.S. part of the U.S. and French-Canadian Drouin Collection. For more details see "The Drouin Collection: Six Databases" The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church, and so on. They are written mainly in French, as well as English, Latin, and Italian.

Saint Patricks, NYC
Diocesan Archives[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngMost Catholic records have not been gathered to central repositories. You must determine the town where your ancestors lived and the parish they most likely attended and then write to that parish. If a parish has closed, the records may have been sent to the diocesan archives or a nearby parish. If the diocese does not have an archives, the diocese chancellor usually knows where the records are.


Diocese of Albany Archives
40 North Main Ave.
Albany, New York 12203
Phone: (518) 453-6633

  • Parish Finder Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.
  • Institutional Records Search here for location of records for closed and merged parishes.

The Albany Diocese includes the counties of: Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton(part), Herkimer (part), Montgomery, Otsego, RensselaerSaratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington.[2]


Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens Archives
310 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, New York 11215
Phone: (718) 965-7300

  • Parish Locator Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.
  • Genealogical FAQ's

The Brooklyn Diocese includes the counties of: Brooklyn and Queens.


Diocese of Buffalo
795 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 847-8700

  • Directory of Parishes Parishes are listed at the end after all the offices and departments. Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.

The Buffalo Diocese includes the counties of: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming.


Archdiocese of New York Archives
1011 First Avenue
New York City, New York 10022
Phone: (212) 371-1000

"The most frequent reference requests we get here at the Archives are of a genealogical nature. Until now, the Archives did not hold any sacramental requests and had to direct researchers to parishes throughout the Archdiocese. We are delighted to announce the first stage in making these records more readily available for all researchers. We have worked with Find My Past, a family history company, to digitize and make searchable all baptismal and marriage records of the Archdiocese prior to 1918. To explore the records, visit the Catholic Heritage Archive. A list of all of the parishes included in the project can be found here.
  • Parish Finder Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.

The New York Diocese includes the counties of: Bronx, Dutchess, Manhattan, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Staten Island, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.


Diocese of Ogdensburg
PO Box 369
622 Washington Street
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
Phone: (315) 393-2920

  • Churches Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.

The Ogdensburg Diocese includes the counties of: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton (part), Herkimer(part), Jefferson, Lewis (part) and St. Lawrence.


Diocese of Rochester
1150 Buffalo Rd.
Rochester, New York 14624
Phone: (585) 328-3210

  • Parish Locator Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.

The Rochester Diocese includes the counties of: Cayuga, Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne and Yates.


Diocese of Rockville Centre Archives
PO Box 9023
Rockville Centre, New York 11571-9023
Phone: (516) 678-5800
Email: archives@drvc.org

  • Parish Finder Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.

The Diocese includes the counties of: Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island. 


Diocese of Syracuse Archives
240 East Onondaga St.
Syracuse, New York 13201
Phone: (315) 422-7203

  • Find-a-Parish Each individual parish keeps records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. Contact the parish to obtain these records.

The Syracuse Diocese includes the counties of: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Lewis (part), Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego.


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


  • Quaker Census of 1828: Members of the New York Yearly Meeting, the Religious Society of Friends of New York, Ontario, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Quebec, at the Time of the Separation of 1828 Fay, Loren V., editor. Rhinebeck, N.Y.: Knshp, 1989 and is available in the FHL Collection. Use this to determine the monthly meeting a person attended. It includes name, age, and family group.
    • To locate a copy nearest you, use WorldCat.

  • Marriages of some early New York Quakers are found in Philadelphia registers:

  • "Quakers and Moravians in New York in 1755 and 1756," Scott, Kenneth. in National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 58 (1970):253-257. FHL Book 973 B2ng v. 58 (1970).

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:

Many church records have been copied and filed with the Daughters of the American Revolution Cemetery, Church, and Town Records, described in New York Genealogy.

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. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972). FHL Book 973 K2ah.
  2. Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.