Another underutilized genealogy resource is Church Records. We tend to focus our research on civil records, but need to be aware that often church records pre-dated civil records and are a great resource as well. In the BMD Records section of this website, there are about 15,000 collections of civil records that are available online. Yes, that’s a lot, but we need to also search church records as well.
What can we find in church or synagogue records? Here’s just a shortlist of what nuggets we can find:
- Baptisms and Christenings
- Membership lists
- Church Minutes
- Church Directories
- Transfer Letters
- Bar or Bat Mitzvahs
- Sunday School lists
- Church newsletters
In addition, many folks also documented important events in family bibles, so they need to be searched as well if the event information has been digitized.
Here are a couple of articles that you might find useful:
- U.S. Church Records Research Guide
- United States Church Records
- A Genealogist’s Guide to Using Catholic Records in Genealogy Research
There is a large number of Free Online Church Record collections; the links for the state are below:
Note: Some of the links listed below take you to a FamilySearch Collection of digital images. Near the bottom of the page under Film/Digital Notes is the name of each sub-collection. If there is a camera icon at the right of the name (in the Format column) then the collections’ images are browsable. If there is a camera with a key icon, it is only available at a Family History Center or affiliated library. If there is a film reel icon, then it is only available in microfilm format, not digital.
(Updated October 2021; recently added links are in BOLD):
- Lincoln County Miscellaneous Church Records
- North Yakima, First Baptist Church Directory 1906-1907
- Otis, Eden Evangelical Church Parish Register, 1907-1914
- Ritzville, Adams County, Philadelphia Congregational Church, 1909-1998
- Seattle, Greenwood Christian Church History
- Seattle, History of Greenwood Christian Church
- Spokane, First Evangelical Church Parish Register, 1905-1941
- Thurston County, Church Records : Zion Lutheran Church, 1893-1925
- Whatcom County Church Records
- Yakima County, Miscellaneous Church Records
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!
For other Free Washington Links, click on the category of interest:
Probate and Wills