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Genealogy

A guide to selected genealogical resources at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

    Introduction

Church records include parish registers, recorded marriages, baptisms, christenings, confirmations, and burials. Other church records document the church history - its organizational structure, the clergy, meeting minutes, financial records, and membership lists (including admissions and dismissals).

Church records are especially important because they "provide the best source of vital records information" from the earliest times, before civil (county and city) records existed. Church records are often more complete and accurate than civil records. For example, baptism and christening records may include the date and place of birth, the parents' names and residence, the sponsors'/godparents' names, the officiating clergy, and the mother's maiden name. In some cases church records are the only place wives' names appear.

"Church records are among the earliest evidence of ethnic groups in a particular locale." As in their native countries, immigrants' lives "centered upon their religious activities" and they depended on their churches to record "the vital records of their lives." "Church death registers have been the single most valuable source for tracing an immigrant's place of birth."

Genealogical researchers should also check this website's Vital Records and Marriage Records sections. The compilers of these sources and of town histories frequently used church records for their work.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Library's rich historical collections include a number of published church records and histories as well as an interesting selection of assorted sources.

 

    Introduction

Church records include parish registers, recorded marriages, baptisms, christenings, confirmations, and burials. Other church records document the church history - its organizational structure, the clergy, meeting minutes, financial records, and membership lists (including admissions and dismissals).

Church records are especially important because they "provide the best source of vital records information" from the earliest times, before civil (county and city) records existed. Church records are often more complete and accurate than civil records. For example, baptism and christening records may include the date and place of birth, the parents' names and residence, the sponsors'/godparents' names, the officiating clergy, and the mother's maiden name. In some cases church records are the only place wives' names appear.

"Church records are among the earliest evidence of ethnic groups in a particular locale." As in their native countries, immigrants' lives "centered upon their religious activities" and they depended on their churches to record "the vital records of their lives." "Church death registers have been the single most valuable source for tracing an immigrant's place of birth."

Genealogical researchers should also check this website's Vital Records and Marriage Records sections. The compilers of these sources and of town histories frequently used church records for their work.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Library's rich historical collections include a number of published church records and histories as well as an interesting selection of assorted sources.

 

Selective List of Materials in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library

American Episcopal clergy; registers of ordinations in the Episcopal Church in the United States from 1785 through 1904, with indexes - Cameron, Kenneth Walter
Call Number; BX 5965 C35

American Jewish year book.
Call Number: E 184 J5 A6  1899- latest in Reference
Earliest volumes list multiple officers of local organizations and congregations.

Annals of the American pulpit, or, Commemorative notices of distinguished American clergymen of various denominations: from the early settlement of the country to the close of the year eighteen hundred and fifty-five: with historical introductions - Sprague, William Buell
Call Number: BR 569 S7                                                                                                                                                                              A biographical dictionary of leading American Protestant clergymen who died before 1850. Names appear chronologically by denomination and there is a name index fro each denomination. Biographies include lists of the subject's publications. 
Volume I
Volume II
Volume III

Volume IV
Volume V

Volume VI
Volume VII
Volume VIII
Volume IX

Baptisms from 1639 to 1730 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York.
Call Number: Cd 3408.5 C64 C64 1968
Records of the earliest settlers of the City of New York. These New Amsterdam Church baptismal records usually include the name of the child and the father, the mother's maiden name, and names of "getuygen" (witnesses). Each volume is arranged chronologically and has a name index.

The Brethren encyclopedia.
Call Number: BX 7821.2 B74 1983
"Provides concise and relatively complete information on those religious bodies that trace their origin to the Brethren movement which began at Schwarzenau/Eder, Germany, in 1708." "Particular attention is given to the biographies of men and women who played significant roles in shaping the course of Brethren history." Includes genealogical information in entries by family name (Etter Family, Pfautz Family, Snell Family, etc.), a "List of ordained ministers and elders (1708-1980)," and a "List of missionaries by denomination."

Catholic Church records of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon City register (1842-1890), Salem register (1864-1885), Jacksonville register (1854-1885) - Munnick, Harriet Duncan
Call Number: F 875 M86 1984
Contains records of births, marriages, and deaths of "the earliest settlers in the Oregon Country." Includes name indexes.

The earliest registers of the parish of Liverpool (St. Nicholas's church): christenings, marriages and burials, 1660 to 1704, with some of the earlier Episcopal transcripts, commencing in 1604.
Call Number: CS 436 L6
Includes name and place indexes.

Encyclopedia of American Quaker genealogy - Hinshaw, William Wade
Call Number: E 184 F89 H5 1936a
                    Volume 1 North Carolina
                    Volume 2 Pennsylvania and New Jersey
                    Volume 3 New York
                    Volulmes 4 and 5 Ohio
                    Volume 6 Virginia
"Quakers kept some of the best church records of any church in England or America." "The records kept by Friends Monthly Meetings during the eigthteenth and nineteenth centuries usually consisted of a record of births and deaths, a record of marriage certificates, and minutes covering all proceedings and discussions coming before the monthly meetings. As men and women met separately, two set of minutes were kept." Termed "the most valuable printed source" for Quaker genealogical research, this set groups the records by the name of the monthly meeting. Each volume contains a separate surname only index.

Handbook of denominations in the United States - Mead, Frank Spencer
Call Number: Reference BR 516.5 M38 1985
Brief overviews of more than 200 religious bodies. Includes historical background, doctrines, and organization.

History and annotated bibliography of American religious periodicals and newspapers established from 1730 through 1830: with library locations and microform sources - Albaugh, Gaylord P.
Call Number: PN 4888 R4 A43 1994
An alphabetical title arrangement of 590 distrinct religious periodicals and newspapers. Includes appendices with chronological, geographical, and interest group listings of titles.

Index to Encyclopedia of American Quaker genealogy.
Call Number: E 184 F89 H52 Index
Single alphabetical name index to the 600,000 names in all six volumes of the encyclopedia. Includes surname and given name plus volume and page number.

Inventory of the church archives in New York city...Prepared by the New York city WPA, Historical records survey, Division of community service projects.
Call Number: CD 3409 N5 R6
Volume 2 covers the Bronx, Manhattan, and Richmond. "Includes every known Roman Catholic parish within that portion of the Archdiocese of New York which lies within the City of New York." Has indexes of churches and priests. Another example of the Historical Records Survey WPA project.

Inventory of the church archives of Wisconsin. Moravian Church/ prepared by the Historical Records Survey, Division of Women's and Professional Projects, Works Progress Administration.
Call Number: CD 3590 H48 M6
Another example of a WPA/Historical Records Survey project. Includes chronological and place name indexes.

Inventory of unpublished material for American religious history in Protestant church archives and other repositories - Allison, William Henry
Call Number: BR 514 A4 (1910)
Often displays a detailed list of records found "especially in the Archives of the Governing bodies of the Various Protestant Churches and of their Missionary Societies and in the Libraries of their Theological Seminaries, Colleges, and Historical Societies." Contains indexes of names, cities, and organizations.

The Mennonite encyclopedia; a comprehensive reference work on the Anabaptist-Mennonite movement.
Call Number: BX 8106 M37
Includes individual and family names and church histories.

The New England historical & genealogical register.
Call Number F1 N56 Per
Journal of the esteemed New England Historic Genealogical Society. Published quarterly since 1847. Includes assorted church and Bible records. For example, "A complete List of the Ministers of Boston of all Denominations, From 1630 to 1842" appeared in Volume 1. Note the Index of Subjects for Volumes 1-50 and 51-112.

The Official Catholic directory.
Call Number: BX 845 O32 +  1947, 1964-1984, 1988-1997, 1999-  Latest volume in Reference
Contains lists of clergy, religious institutes of men and women, diocesan information, schools, etc. Earliest year included Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cuba, and Mexico.

Old churches, ministers, and families of Virginia. Reprinted, with digested index and genealogical guide - Meade, William
Call Number: F 225 M4913 1966  Volume I  Volume II
                   Microfilm A 81 Reel 532.4
Episcopal church information was gathered from vestry books, state records, family records, parishes, graveyards, Parliamentary archives, etc. Contains family histories and lists of church officials for the Colonial period. Volume 2 includes a name and subject index to both volumes.

Old Kent: the Eastern Shore of Maryland; notes illustrative of the most ancient records of Kent County, Maryland, and of the parishes of St. Paul's, Shrewsbury, and I.U., and genealogical histories of old and distinguished families of Maryland, and their connections by marriage, & c. - Hanson, George Adolphus
Call Number: F 187 K3 H2
Kent County was "the most ancient settlement in Maryland." Includes a name index.

The parish registers of Garstang Church.
Call Number: CS 436 G35
                   Volume I  1567-1658
                   Volume II  1660-1734
Includes christenings, marriages, burials, and a name index. Covers 1567-1734.

Parish records: 19th century ecclesiastical registers - Jeub, Ulla Nilsdotter
Call Number: CS 927 J48 1993
Offers brief descriptions and examples of what is included in Swedish parish records. Covers birth and baptismal registers, registers of banns and marriages, registers of deaths and burials, migration lists, and catechetical lists.

Pennsylvania Archives.
Call Number: F 146 P41
A multi-volume set of assorted important documents transcribed and printed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Note especially:

Series 2  Volume II  Names of persons for whom marriage lilcenses were issued in the Province of Pennsylvania previous to 1790

Series 2 Volume VIII and Volume IX  Record of Pennsylvania marriages prior to 1810

Series 6  Volume VI  Records of Egypt Reformed Church, Lehigh County 1734-1834

Polish parish records of the Roman Catholic Church: their use and understanding in genealogical research - Ortell, Gerald A.
Call Number: CS 873 O77 1984
"Designed to help the novice researcher readily comprehend...the information contained in the primary Polish records."

The records of a church of Christ in Bristol, 1640-1687 - Terrill, Edward
Call Number: BX 6490 B75 B767 1974
Records of the Broadmead Baptist Church in Bristol, England.

Register of baptisms in the Dutch Church at Colchester from 1645 to 1728.
Call Number: BX 9450 H8 v. 11-13

Register of baptisms of the French protestant refugees settled at thorney, Cambridgeshire, 1654-1727 - Peet, Henry
Call Number: BX 9450 H8 v. 17-20
The Thorney dregister "contains almost the only record of a colony of French or Walloon Protestant refugees." Records include the maiden name of every married woman, whether the woman were a wife or a widow, the child's date of birth and date of baptism, and the names of the godparents, sponsors, or witnesses. Entries appear chronologically and there are indexes of parents and sponsors.

Register of St. Philip's Parish, Charles Town, South Carolina, 1720-1758.
Call Number: F 279 C453 A23 1971
St. Philip's Parish, "The Westminster Abbey of South Carolina," included the entire town of Charleston. "These are the vital statistics for the most important center in the early history of South Carolina." Contains name indexes.

Registers of the church known as La Patente in Spittlefields, from 1689to 1785.
Call Number: BX 9450 H8 v. 11-13

Registers of the French churches of Bristol, Stonehouse, and Plymouth - Lart, Charles Edmund
Call Number: Bx 9450 H8 v. 17-20
"The majority of the refugee congregations of these churches came from...the most Protestant districts of France." a chronological list of baptisms, marriages, and burials which includes a name index to all 3 churches.

The registers of the Parish Church of Blackburn in the County of Lancaster.
Call Number: CS 436 B52
Contains chronological lists of marriages, births, baptisms, and burials for 1600-1680. Includes name indexes.

 

  Also of Interest

The Special Collections and University Archives Department of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library houses a collection of more than 7,500 community cookbooks. The Beatrice McIntosh Cookery Collection includes cookbooks prepared by a variety of churches and synagogues from the 1880s to the present. "These cookbooks document important aspects of the lives of families and women in the region, as well as ethnic groups and their adaptation of traditional foods to New England. The collection is focused primarily on New England, but includes cookbooks from other states for comparative purposes." Many of the community cookbooks offer an historical introduction to the organization and most of the recipes are signed by the contributing members. A partial listing of the church cookbooks is available at http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/cookbooks/

    Find More

Search the Library Catalog by Subject. Examples of subject searches:

Church records and registers - England

Church records and registers - United States

Congregational churches - Sermons

Huguenots - Ireland

Mennonites - Dictionaries

United States - Church history - Bibliography

United States - Church history - Sources

Virginia - Church history

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