Iowa Church Records

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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, and Lutheran churches.

The Society of Friends (Quakers) and other small groups were also early settlers.

The Family History Library has:

  • 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:

Petersen, William J. Iowa History Reference Guide.

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:

Baptist

North American Baptist Conference
1 South 210 Summit Avenue
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Telephone: 630-495-2000
Fax: 630-495-0333
Internet: http://www.nabconference.org/

Lutheran

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Wartburg Theological Seminary
333 Wartburg Place
Dubuque, IA 52001
Telephone: 319-589-0200
Fax: 319-589-0333
Internet: http://www.elca.org/

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 Archives. ALC Congregations on Microfilm. Dubuque, Iowa: The Archives, [197-?]. (FHL fiche 6330690–93.) 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 Microfilmed as of 1987. N. p., 1988. (FHL book 973 K2aL)

Methodist

Iowa Wesleyan College Library
Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641
Telephone: 319-385-6317
Fax: 319-385-6324
Internet address: Central/index.htm http://www.iwc.edu/Campus%20Central/index.htm  

You can find two of the library’s collections in:

Iowa Churches: A File at the Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (FHL films 956387–417.) 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. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (FHL films 956418–42.) These films contain biographies, mainly of Methodist ministers.

Presbyterian

The Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Telephone: 215-627-1852
Fax: 215-627-0509
Internet: http://www.history.pcusa.org/

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
World Headquarters
P. O. Box 1059
Independence, MO 64051
Telephone: 816-833-1000
Fax: 816-521-3089
Internet address: www.rlds.org

Records of most Iowa congregations of this church have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library.

Roman Catholic

Diocese of Davenport
2706 N. Gaines Street
Davenport, IA 52804
Telephone: 319-324-1911
Fax: 319-324-5842
Internet: http://www.davenportdiocese.org/

Diocese of Sioux City
1821 Jackson Street
Sioux City, IA 51105
Telephone: 712-255-7933
Fax: 712-233-7598
Internet: http://www.scdiocese.org/

Diocese of Des Moines
610 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309
Telephone: 515-243-7653
Fax: 515-237-5070
Internet: http://www.dmdiocese.org/

Society of Friends (Quaker)

Friends Historical Library
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
Telephone: 610-328-8496
Fax: 610-328-7329
Internet address:  http://www.swarthmore.edu/x6672.xml

Magill Library
Haverford College
Haverford, PA 19041-1392
Telephone: 610-896-1161
Fax: 610-896-1102
Internet address: http://www.haverford.edu/library/about/news/news30.html

Two collections of the Iowa Society of Friends records are:

Hinshaw, William Wade. Index to Iowa Quaker Meeting Records. 11 vols. N.p., 19--? (FHL 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. (FHL films 002146–213, and 175409–13.) Film 002148 has an index to surnames and indicates in which monthly meetings those surnames are found. These microfilms contain records of many Iowa monthly meetings.

The Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog lists church records under:

IOWA - CHURCH RECORDS

IOWA, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS

IOWA, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - CHURCH RECORDS