Massachusetts Church Records
Before 1900 the major religious groups in Massachusetts were:
Perry Miller's classic book The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (New York: Macmillan, 1939), provoked a great deal of interest in the religious origins of the Massachusetts colony.
1889 Church Records. There is a list of the churches in each town, the date of organization, kinds of records kept, years covered, and condition of the records as of 1889 in Wright's Report on the Custody and Condition of the Public Records (see Massachusetts Archives and Libraries).
The Family History Library has many published and manuscript records of Baptist, Congregational, and Society of Friends congregations. A useful index of marriages recorded by early churches is:
- Bailey, Frederic W. Early Massachusetts Marriages Prior to 1800. Three Volumes in one, 1897–1914. 1968 Reprint: FHL Collection 974.4 V2b; film 874200; fiche 6051393. 1991 Reprint: FHL Collection 974.4 V2b 1991. This book has records of marriages for more than 111 towns. Digital versions:
Many denominations have collected their records into central repositories. You can write to the following addresses to learn where their records are located:
American Baptist Historical Society
The Library in Rochester is now closed to researchers, with interim director Betsy Dunbar working full-time, preparing collections for packing. We are not accepting any more research requests "by mail" in 2007 nor are we scheduling appointments to our Rochester Library at this time. We will also close the Valley Forge Archives Center to visitors beginning in mid-June. We are inviting researchers to plan to visit us in 2008 at our new location on the Atlanta campus of Mercer University.
An informative history is:
- Brush, John Woolman. Baptists in Massachusetts. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 1970. FHL Collection 974.4 K2bj
A historical perspective is found in:
- Goodwin, John A. The Pilgrim Republic: An Historical Review of the Colony of New Plymouth, with Sketches of Other New England Settlements, the History of Congregationalism, and the Creeds of the Period. Boston, Mass.: Tickner, 1888. FHL Collection 1465570
For histories of the Episcopal Church see:
- Duffy, Mark J., ed. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts 1784-1984. [Boston, Mass.]: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 1984. FHL Collection 974.4 K2e
- Tyng, Dudley. Massachusetts Episcopalians, 1607-1957. [Boston, Massachusetts]: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, . FHL Collection 974.4 K2t
Society of Friends (Quakers)
Rhode Island Historical Society
121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906
Phone: (401) 273–8107
Fax: (401) 751–7930
Informative history of Massachusetts Quakers include:
- Bowden, James. The History of the Society of Friends in America. 2 vols. London: W. & F.G. Cash, 1850-1854. Digital version of Vol. 1 at Google Books; FHL Collection 973 F2bj v. 1 [Volume 1 includes New England.]
- Hallowell, Richard P. The Quaker Invasion of Massachusetts. Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1883. FHL Collection 974.4 K2h; digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books. Illustrates the persecution the Quakers received from colonial authorities. Has examples of the strength and conviction of the Quakers' religious beliefs.
American Jewish Historical Society
160 Herrick Road
Newton Centre, MA 02459
Phone: (617) 559-8880
Fax: (617) 559-8881
Boston University School of Theology Library
745 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: (617) 353–3034
Fax: (617) 358–0699
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: (215) 627–1852
Fax: (215) 627–0509
Archdiocese of Boston
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184-3839
Phone: (617) 254-0100
Diocese of Fall River Archives
362 Highland Avenue
P.O. Box 2577
Fall River, MA 02722
Phone: (508) 675-1311
Diocese of Springfield
65 Elliott St.
P.O. Box 1730
Springfield, MA 01102
Phone: (413) 732-3175
Diocese of Worcester
49 Elm Street
Worcester, MA 01609
Phone: (508) 791-7171
The diocese includes the county of: Worcester
THE DROUIN COLLECTION:
Drouin Collection 1621-1967 at Ancestry.ca. When searching these databases, be creative in the spellings as well as the various focuses in searching for an ancestor. The French language has many possible spellings for a name, as well as there are errors in the indexing.
This French-Canadian collection has over 15 million genealogical and vital records entries; they were microfilmed by the Institut Généalogique Drouin. In Quebec, under the French Regime, there were two sets of records kept: a copy for the civil government archives and a copy for the ecclesiastical church archives. The Drouin collection is a civil copy of these entries. Please note that the cutoff date of this collection is in the early 1940s; only a small percentage of entries were covered from 1948 to 1967.
This collection is divided into six databases: 1. Quebec Vital and Church Records, 1621-1967 2. Ontario French Catholic Church Records, 1747-1967, 3. Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954, 4. Acadia French Catholic Church Records, 1670-1946, 5. Quebec Notarial Records, 1647-1942, and 6. Miscellaneous French Records, 1651-1941. For details about these six databases, see "The Drouin Collection: Six Databases" at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/The_Drouin_Collection:_Six_databases .
Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954: 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. 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.
Unitarian/UniversalistAndover-Harvard Theological Library
Harvard Divinity School
45 Francis Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138