Another under utilized 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 Directories
- Transfer Letters
- Bar or Bat Mitzvahs
- Sunday School lists
- Church newsletters
- Church Minutes
I recently found a mention for one of my ancestors of date and location of death in a church newsletter in Berlin, Germany. What a find!
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 accessible by state below: