Indiana Church Records
Church records and the information they provide vary greatly, depending upon the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members (age; dates of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information; maiden name of wife; and death date), names of other relatives who were witnesses, or names of members of the congregation. The members of some churches were predominately of one nationality or ethnic group.
Before 1900, the largest religious groups in Indiana were the Roman Catholic, Methodist Episcopal, Christian (Disciples of Christ), and Baptist churches.
For the historical background of religious groups in Indiana, see:
- Rudolph, L. C. Hoosier Faiths: A History of Indiana Churches and Religious Groups. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995. FHL Collection book 977.2 K2ru. This describes general history and Indiana history, and includes biographies of significant local leaders of 50 major religious groups. It is indexed.
Transcripts of many Indiana church records, including over 175,000 indexed names, are published in:
- Heiss, Willard et al. Indiana Source Book: Genealogical Material from the Hoosier Genealogist. 10 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana Historical Society, Family History Section, 1977-. FHL Collection book 977.2 D29h v. 1
Protestant church records are a prime source for identifying the German hometowns and villages of American immigrants, see:
- Minert, Roger P. et al. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Rockport, Maine: Picton Press, 2005. FHL Collection book 973 W23g v. 1. Volume 1 covers Indiana Protestant records (primarily Lutheran records).
The Family History Library has some church records and published histories. These include “pastor pocket records” kept by early circuit riders, and abstracts of numerous records of the Society of Friends. The following directories may help you find church records.
- A Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations in Indiana. 3 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: Historical Records Survey, 1941. FHL Collection book 977.2 K24d; vols. 2 & 3 on filmFHL Collection film 1036694. The Family History Library does not have volume one, which pertains to Marion County. Volume two is for the Calumet Region (Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties). Volume three pertains to Northern Indiana, part one: Adventist Bodies-Mennonite Bodies; part two: Methodist- Y.W.C.A. In addition to an index to churches in Indiana, there is an index of denominations that includes the name and location of the churches.
- Rudolph, L. C. and Judith E. Endelman. Religion in Indiana: A Guide to Historical Resources. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press, 1986. FHL Collection book 977.2 K23r. This book contains an excellent bibliography of published works, a list of repositories for the different denominations, and histories of congregations.
For brief histories and addresses of the various church denominations in Indiana, see pages 76–89 of:
- Robinson, Mona Robinson. Who’s Your Hoosier Ancestor?: Genealogy For Beginners. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1992. FHL Collection book 977.2 D27r
Elkhart and Lagrange Counties in northeastern Indiana are home to the third largest concentration of Amish in North America. The Amish, or “plain people,” are a derivative of the Anabaptist heritage resulting from a division in the Mennonite churches of Europe in the 17th century. The Mennof-Hof Amish and Mennonite Information Center (510 S. Van Buren St., Shipshewana, 46565-8983; 260-768-4117) tells the history of the Amish and Mennonite people.
The Amish in several communities in Indiana have published directories of their communities at regular intervals from the 1980s to the present, including Elkhart-Lagrange-Noble Counties, Adams-Jay Counties, and Nappannee-Kokomo-Milroy. These volumes feature a wealth of information for each family, including husband’s name, wife’s maiden name, the names of each spouse’s parents, children’s names, dates of birth for each individual, children’s marriage partners, the family address, husband’s occupation, and notations of whether each child is living at home, married and living within the community, married and living in another Amish community, single and living outside the family home, or has left the Amish faith. The directories also include history of the communities and maps showing locations of Amish homesteads and schools.
Goshen College (1700 S. Main St., Goshen 46526) is home to the Mennonite Church USA Archives-Goshen (Newcomer Center; 574-523-3080; toll-free 866-866-2872 ext. 23080; email History@MennoniteUSA.org) The archives houses the official records of the Mennonite Church and personal papers of Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish and other Anabaptist groups. Complementing the Archives is the Mennonite Historical Library (Good Library, third floor; 574-535-7418; email firstname.lastname@example.org). The collection of the Mennonite Historical Library includes genealogy resources, history books and Mennonite periodicals.
Two colleges that participate in the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) have Mennonite-Anabaptist tradition and may be resources for records of or about these denominations in Indiana. These are Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (3003 Benham Ave., Elkhart, 46517; phone 574-296-6253) and Goshen College (1700 S. Main St., Goshen, 46256; 574-535-7427). Their catalogs may be searched collectively by using the PALNI online catalog.
An 1899 directory of Baptist ministers lists biographical details about many ministers born or serving in the state:
- The Ministerial Directory of the Baptist Churches in the United States of America. Oxford, Ohio: Ministerial Directory Co., 1899. Digital version at Google Books.
Church of Christ
- Indiana Delegates to Church of Christ Convention, Danville (1916) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
Early church records, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for Indiana Wards and Branches can be found on film and are located at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The film numbers, for each ward, can be locate through the Family History Library Catalog . Or by refering to Jaussi, Laureen R., and Gloria D. Chaston. Register of Genealogical Society Call Numbers. 2 vols. Provo, Utah: Genealogy Tree, 1982. (FHL book 979.2258 A3j; fiche 6031507). These volumes contain the film numbers for many (but not all) membership and temple record films.
Disciples of Christ
Christian Theological Seminary Library
1000 W. 42nd St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Phone: (317) 924-1331
Fax: (317) 923-1961
- Clergy of Indiana Diocese, Episcopal Church (1838-1888) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
- Ministers of Indiana Conference, Episcopal Church (1888) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
321 Bonnie Lane,
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Alternate mailing address:
8765 W. Higgins Rd.
Chicago, IL 60631
(Appointments in advance of visits is advised)
Phone: (847) 690-9410
Fax: (847) 690-9502
This archive has microfilms of German, Danish, and Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran congregations. Many of their records can be borrowed on microfilm for a small fee. You can write to ask if they have records of a specific congregation. For information about lists of some of the church records in their collection, see United States Church Records.
- Ministers of Indiana Conference, Evangelical Church (1915) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
Archives of DePauw University and Indiana United Methodism
Roy O. West Library
11 E Larabee St
P.O. Box 37
Greencastle, IN 46135-0037
Phone: (765) 658-4406
Fax: (765) 658-4423
The Family History Library has some Indiana Methodist histories and church records. Try a title search in the FHL Catalog for "Indiana Methodist"
- Deceased Ministers of Norwest Indiana Conference, Methodist Church (1854-1898) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
- Deceased Ministers of Northern Indiana Conference, Methodist Church (1844-1916) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
The Moravian Archives
41 West Locust Street
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18018
United States of America
Phone: (610) 866-3255
Fax: (610) 866-9210
For information concerning missions to the American Indians visit Moravian Missions Among American Indians. For a map and list of missions visit Early Moravian Missions in Eastern Pennsylvania and Surrounding Areas 1740-1773.
Archives of the Presbyterian Church of Indiana
P.O. Box 287
Hanover, IN 47243-0287
Phone: (812) 866-7165
Fax: (812) 866-7172
The records of all four Roman Catholic dioceses in Indiana are available on microfilm at the Family History Library. These records include the dioceses of Evansville, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Gary, and Lafayette, plus the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, all to about 1916. The early church records of Vincennes, in what is now Knox County, have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library.
Diocese of Evansville
4200 N. Kentucky Ave.
P.O. Box 4169
Evansville, IN 47724-0169
Phone: (812) 424-5536
Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Archbishop Noll Catholic Center,
915 South Clinton
P.O. Box 390
Fort Wayne, IN 46801
Phone: (260) 422-4611
Diocese of Gary
Merrillville, IN 46410
Phone: (219) 769-9292
Archdiocese of Indianaplolis
1400 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Phone: (800) 382-9836
The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Parke, Perry, Putnam, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Switzerland, Union, Vermillion, Washington, and Wayne
Diocese of Lafayette
P.O. Box 260
Lafayette, IN 47902-0260
Phone: (765) 742-4852
The diocese includes the counties of: Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Delaware, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Howard,Jasper, Jay, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Newton, Pulaski, Randolph, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Warren, and White
St. Francis Xavier (Vincennes, Indiana). Parish Registers, 1780–1960. Microfilmed 1985. FHL Collectionfilm 1433361-65. The original records are at St. Francis Xavier Church, Vincennes, Indiana. They list baptisms, confirmations, communions, marriages, deaths, and graves of soldiers who served in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War (1835), the Mexican War, and the Civil War. These records may have information about persons from various parts of what is now Indiana and persons traveling through Vincennes.
Other microfilmed Roman Catholic records for Vincennes are also listed in the Family History Library Catalog, such as St. Thomas (1865–1984) and St. John the Baptist (1847–1947).
The Drouin Collection
Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954 ($) (Ancestry). This database only contains the French Catholic parish records from the United States in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. 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.
Society of Friends (Quakers)
Another library with Quaker records is:
801 National Road West
Richmond, IN 47374-4095
Phone: (765) 983-1511
Fax: (765) 983-1304
An important source for information about Indiana Quakers is:
- Heiss, Willard. Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana, 6 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana Historical Society, 1962-1977. FHL Collection book 977.2 K28h; FHL Collection fiche 6051380-386. This includes records of births, marriages, deaths, removals, dismissals, and memberships.
A unique source listing many Indiana Quakers is:
- Nelson, Jacquelyn S. Indiana Quakers Confront the Civil War. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 1991. FHL Collection book 977.2 H2n. Appendix C lists Indiana Friends (Quakers) who served in the Civil War. For each man, it generally lists birth date, parents’ names, monthly meeting and county thereof, company, regiment, rank, and death date.
The Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog lists church records under:
INDIANA, [COUNTY]- CHURCH RECORDS INDIANA, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- CHURCH RECORDS
- Francis Godfroy (trading house-St. Joseph)
- Carey Mission
- Miami Union Baptist Church
- Wahcaconah Church
- 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