Iowa Church Records
Church Records and Archives
Church records have been kept in Iowa since the 1830s. Information from church records varies greatly, depending upon the denomination and the record keeper. Records may contain such information about members of the congregation as age, dates of baptism, christening, or birth, marriage information, wife’s maiden name, and death dates. Records may include names of other relatives who were witnesses at church events or members of the congregation. The members of some churches were predominately of one nationality or ethnic group. Knowing this may help you find the foreign town from which your ancestors immigrated.
Before 1900 the largest religious groups were the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran churches along with The Society of Friends (Quakers) and other small groups were also early settlers.
Iowa Published Church Records
Periodicals have published records of many Iowa churches. These are referenced in the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) described in the "Periodicals" page. Many denominations have collected and stored their records in central repositories. You can write to the following addresses to learn where their records are located:
North American Baptist Conference
1 South 210 Summit Avenue
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Internet: North American Baptist Conference
Trinity Episcopal Church, Muscatine IA, has Parish Baptism Records online.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Wartburg Theological Seminary
333 Wartburg Place
Dubuque, IA 52001
Internet: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Wartburg Theological Seminary has Lutheran records from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and upper Michigan. Many of the records in this repository can be borrowed for a small fee. For a list of some of the records, see:
- ALC Congregations on Microfilm. The list is alphabetical by state and then by city. Fiche 6330690 has records from Iowa.
- American Lutheran Church Shelf List Index to Their Church Records 
- St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Montpelier Twp, has Baptism and Death records online.
Iowa Wesleyan College Library
Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641
Internet address: Iowa Wesleyan College Library
You can find two of the library’s collections in:
- Iowa Churches: A File at the Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa This file consists of church histories, anniversary programs, and newspaper clippings. It is arranged by towns or by the name of the church.
- Ministerial Biographies: A File in the Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa These films contain biographies, mainly of Methodist ministers.
The Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Internet: The Presbyterian Historical Society
Many of the biographies and church records of this society have been microfilmed. The society and the Family History Library are continuing to collect Iowa Presbyterian church records.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
P. O. Box 1059
Independence, MO 64051
Internet address: Community of Christ
Records of most Iowa congregations of this church have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library.
Local Catholic Church History and Catholic Ancestors of Iowa
Diocese of Davenport
2706 N. Gaines Street
Davenport, IA 52804
Phone: (319) 324-1911
Fax: (319) 324-5842
The diocese includes the counties of: Appanoose, Cedar, Clinton, Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Mahaska, Marion, Monroe, Muscatine, Poweshiek, Scott, Van Buren, Wapello and Washington
Diocese of Sioux City
1821 Jackson Street
Sioux City, IA 51105
Phone: (712) 255-7933
Fax: (712) 233-7598
Internet: Diocese of Sioux City
The diocese includes the counties of: Boone, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Carroll, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Dickinson, Emmet, Greene, Humboldt, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon, Monona, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux, Webster, and Woodbury
Diocese of Des Moines
610 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: (515) 243-7653
Fax: (515) 237-5070
Internet: Diocese of Des Moines
The diocese includes the counties of: Adair, Adams, Audubon, Cass, Clarke, Dallas, Decatur, Fremont, Guthrie, Harrison, Lucas, Madison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Shelby, Taylor, Union, Warren and Wayne
Archdiocese of Dubuque
1229 Mt Loretta Ave.
Dubuque, IA 52004-0479
Phone: (563) 556-2580
The diocese includes the counties of: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Howard, Jackson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Mitchell, Story, Tama, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Worth, Wright
Society of Friends (Quaker)
Friends Historical Library
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
Internet address: Friends Historical Library
Haverford, PA 19041-1392
Internet address: Magill Library
Two collections of the Iowa Society of Friends records are:
- Index to Iowa Quaker Meeting Records 
- The William Wade Hinshaw Index to Quaker Meeting Records in the Friends Library in Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. has an index to surnames and indicates in which monthly meetings those surnames are found. These microfilms contain records of many Iowa monthly meetings.
Websites for Quaker Genealogy Helps:
- American Friend Obituary Index
- Friends Historical Library
- The Quaker Corner
- The Quaker Research Guide
Family History Library
The Family History Library has: While the majority of church records remain with the local churches, the Family History Library, and Iowa Historical Society Library, have copies of local records from some churches. See A Guide to Manuscripts at the Iowa Historical Society, described in Iowa Archives and Libraries.
Many of the local church records available at the Family History Library have been microfilmed at various archives and libraries. Whenever possible, these are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under IOWA, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - CHURCH RECORDS. While no listing of Family History Library films by repository is available, the Family History Library Catalog identifies when and where each record was microfilmed. Example: Family History Library List of Iowa Churches
- Records of churches, including Catholic, Presbyterian and the Society of Friends (see the Family History Library Catalog).
- Histories of denominations in Iowa, including Mennonite, Congregational, Quaker, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist-Episcopal.
A useful list of books and articles about the various religious groups of Iowa is found on pages 116–125 in:
- Iowa History Reference Guide. Iowa City, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa, 1952.This bibliography includes sections about American Indians, immigration, land, government, courts, military, schools, churches, businesses, history, and biographies. It is arranged by subject and has an index.
Iowa Church Locators
There are different websites that list churches in Iowa.
- ALC Archives. ALC Congregations on Microfilm. Dubuque, Iowa: The Archives, [197-?]. (Family History Library fiche 6330690–93.)
- American Lutheran Church Shelf List Index to Their Church Records Microfilmed as of 1987. N. p., 1988. (Family History Library book 973 K2aL)
- Iowa Churches: A File at the Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (Family History Library films 956387–417.)
- Ministerial Biographies: A File in the Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (Family History Library films 956418–42.)
- Hinshaw, William Wade. Index to Iowa Quaker Meeting Records. 11 vols. N.p., 19--? (Family History Library book 977.7 K28h; films 924025–27; fiche 6051154.)
- Hinshaw, William Wade. The William Wade Hinshaw Index to Quaker Meeting Records in the Friends Library in Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1957. (Family History Library films 002146–213, and 175409–13 and Film 002148
- William John. Iowa History Reference Guide. Iowa City, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa, 1952. (FHL book 977.7 A3p; computer number 241027.)