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CHURCHRECORDSKathy PetrasLibrary AssociateMedina County District Library
Church Records Church records can be a rich source of genealogical information, but they are under utilized because of the difficulties in locating them. Before the establishment of government vital records, churches recorded the deaths, births, marriages and baptisms of their members. Of course, they still do. Besides these life event records, churches also maintain records of confirmations, memberships, meeting minutes, and financial reports. From church records you can discover how important religion was to your ancestors. If your ancestor was a minister, rabbi, priest or nun, he/she might be listed in the church archives or history.
FIRST Determine what religion or denomination the family practiced. This information might be in the family Bible, published county history, a diary, on a tombstone, or mentioned in a will. Where your ancestors settled or where they came from can provide clues as to which denomination you need to look for. Also, investigate which churches were very near your ancestor’s home. People tended to attend churches that were nearby.
Detail from Revolutionary War Pensionfile that gives clues to possible religiousaffiliation…
Notes from The Uncompromising Sessionist byGeorge Knox Miller
National Geographic Historical Atlas of the United States, National Geographic, Washington,D.C., 2004. Page 72
SECOND Discover if that church or temple kept records and where those records are now. *Handout Some denominations kept great records, others did not. Check to see if churches melded together or split away from each other. And of course, like all records, they were subject to destruction by fires, floods or “a big wind”. Along with the handout of the location of church records, many church records can be ordered on microfilm from Family History Centers. www.familysearch.org and http://www.familysearch.org/eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.a (Library Catalog).
Example: Ohio Methodist records are kept inan archive at Ohio Wesleyan University. http://library.owu.edu/spuma.htm
Portrait of Rev. John H. Tagg found in the hallway of the UnitedMethodist Church in Pomfrey, New York.