Difference between revisions of "Illinois Church Records"

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A bibliography of Illinois Lutheran Church Records and Histories can be found at  
A bibliography of Illinois Lutheran Church Records and Histories can be found at  
[http://www.genealoger.com/lutheran/church%20records/luth_chrec_illinois.htm '''The Genealoger.com Lutheran Genealogy.''']
[http://www.genealoger.com/lutheran/church%20records/luth_chrec_illinois.htm '''The Genealoger.com Lutheran Genealogy.''']
[http://imhgs.org/ Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society]<br>675 State Route 116<br>Metamora, IL 61548-7732<br>Phone: (309) 367-2551
The Library collection includes holdings in genealogy and Anabaptist history for research.

Revision as of 00:15, 1 July 2020

Illinois Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Illinois Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources
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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

In the decades following statehood, the largest religious groups in Illinois were the Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches. These groups came primarily from the southern states. At the same time, Congregationalists, Lutherans, and members of the Reformed faiths came from the eastern states. Roman Catholics became numerous in Illinois after 1860, especially in the northern industrial areas. Several counties in the northeastern part of the state became havens for Lutheran Scandinavians.[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!

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, Illinois.
b. Click on Places within United States, Illinois 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, Illinois [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.

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.

Baptist[edit | edit source]

American Baptist Historical Society
1106 South Goodman Street
Rochester, NY 14620
Phone: (716) 473-1740

The American Baptist Historical Society in Rochester, New York, is national in scope, though records in the archive cover primarily the eastern United States. The records are mostly statistical in nature. They may have some information about ministers and missionaries, but they may have little more than lists of lay members. Any records of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths were kept by the choice of the minister, not by mandate of the church. The departing minister may or may not have left his records with the church or a succeeding minister.

  • The Ministerial Directory of the Baptist Churches in the United States of America. Oxford, Ohio: Ministerial Directory Co., 1899. Digital version at Google Books.
    This 1899 directory of Baptist ministers lists biographical details about many ministers born or serving in the state:[2]
  • Smith, Justin A. A History of the Baptists in the Western States East of the Mississippi, Philadelphia : American Baptist Publication Society, 1896. Ancestry.com ($) Digital version at Google Books.

The website of Primitive Baptist Churches in Illinois have prepared guides for genealogists who wish to learn about their religious ancestors, see, for example: Church and Family History Research Assistance for Gallatin County, Illinois Primitive Baptists.

Disciples of Christ[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

A bibliography of Illinois Lutheran Church Records and Histories can be found at The Genealoger.com Lutheran Genealogy.

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference
United Methodist Church Historical Society
1211 North Park Street
Bloomington, Illinois 61701
Phone: (309) 828-5092, ext. 227

The Illinois Great Rivers Conference UMC Historical Society was recently created through the merger of the Southern and the Central conferences and its records cover central and southern Illinois as well as records of some disbanded congregations. Members of the staff will do some searching of those records for a small fee.

Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary
Attn: Archives
2121 Sheridan Road
Evanston, Illinois 60201
Phone: (847) 866-3909

The Archive of the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary houses the records of the Northern Illinois Conference of the Evangelical Methodist Church. In addition to records of disbanded churches, it has records of many Scandinavian congregations. The archive has no direct phone line, so you will need to make inquiries by mail. Selected records of the archive have been microfilmed and are in the Family History Library collection.

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Archdiocese of Chicago[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Archdiocese of Chicago
Ecclesiastical Province of Chicago map 1.png

Archives of the Archdiocese of Chicago
Joseph Cardinal Bernadine Archive and Record Center
Attn: Assistant Research Archivist
711 West Monroe
Chicago, Illinois 60661
Phone: (312) 831-0711

The diocese includes the counties of Cook and Lake

The telephone number of the Archive and Record Center accesses a voice mail menu. Selecting the "reference" option allows a caller to place a request for genealogical research.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of parish records from the Archdiocese of Chicago to 1915. These may be accessed by typing Chicago, Illinois at the Place-names Search of the library catalog. Once at the list of subjects for Chicago, choose "Church records."

Diocese of Belleville[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville

Diocese of Belleville
222 South Third Street
Belleville, IL 62220
Phone: (618) 277-8181

The diocese includes the counties of: Alexander, Clay, Clinton, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, St. Clair, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White, and Williamson[3]

Many of the Catholic Church records in the Belleville Diocese are available online through FamilySearch in the collection Illinois, Diocese of Belleville, Catholic Parish Records, 1729-1956. These records are also available at the St. Louis County Library and the Belleville Public Library.

The book A Time of Favor: The Story of the Catholic Family of Southern Illinois by Betty Burnett contains a great deal of historical context that will help genealogists better understand their ancestors' lives.

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Ilinios Belleville Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Diocese of Joliet[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet

 Diocese of Joliet
425 Summit St.
Joliet, IL 60435
Phone: (815) 722-6606

The diocese includes the counties of: DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall, and Will.[3] The 1859 records of St. Anne’s Church, which stood in what is now Richton Park, along with the two Mission churches of St. James in Strassburg and St. Boniface in Monee, are included in this Diocese's records.

Diocese of Peoria[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria

Catholic Diocese of Peoria
419 NE Madison Avenue
Peoria, IL 61603
Phone: (309) 671-1568

The diocese includes the following counties: Bureau, Champaign, DeWitt, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, Livingston, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Piatt, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Vermilion, Warren and Woodford.[3]

Diocese of Rockford[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford

 Diocese of Rockford
555 Colman Center Drive
P.O. Box 7044
Rockford, IL 61108
(815) 399-4300

The diocese includes the counties of:Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Kane, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago.[3]

Diocese of Springfield[edit | edit source]

Diocese of Springfield
Catholic Pastoral Center
1615 West Washington St.
P.O. Box 3187
Springfield, Illinois 62708-3187
Phone: (217) 698-8500

The diocese includes the counties of: Adams, Bond, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Jasper, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Menard, Moultrie, Pike, Sangamon, Scott, and Shelby.[3]

The Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954 ($) (Ancestry).

This database contains the French Catholic parish records from the United States. It is the U.S. part of the U.S. and French-Canadian Drouin Collection. It includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. For more details on these records and the rest of the Drouin Collection 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.

When searching this database, be creative in the spellings when searching for an ancestor. The French language has many possible spellings for names and there are always indexing errors as well.

Missions[edit | edit source]

Many early missions were established by religious denominations to serve the Indians, including:

Society of Friends - Quaker[edit | edit source]

University of Illinois University Library
Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
322 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Phone: (217) 333-1777
Email: ihlc@library.illinois.edu

The Illinois Historical Survey at the University of Illinois holds the main body of records for meetings in Illinois with the earliest records beginning in 1828.
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Records, 1828-2011.Includes 85 volumes. [4]

Records may also be found at the Lilly Library in Richmond, Indiana
Lilly Library, Earlham College Archives
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana 47374-4095
Phone: (765) 983-1287
Friends Collection and College Archives

Online database for Illinois Quaker records is found at Ancestry.com ($)

See Outfitters.com for further information on Quakers in Illinois.

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • Church Angel lists churches in Illinois by cities and towns.

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Illinois Belleville Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch HIstorical Records)

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. Illinois Genealogy Resources, Church and Religious Records www.genealoger.com/illinois/il_church_records.htm
  2. Davis points out that not all ministers participated, see: Robert S. Davis, "Some Baptist Ministers of South Carolina at the Turn of the Century," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Winter 2004):13-22. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 32
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.
  4. Ellen T. Berry, David A. Berry ‘’Our Quaker Ancestors’’ (Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1987)