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 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 accessible by state 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 March, 2020; recently added links are in BOLD):
- Billings, Baptisms up to 1907 copied from the Records of the three oldest churches in Billings
- Bozeman, Christening Records from First Presbyterian Church, 1872-1897
- Bozeman, First Presbyterian Church Records from the Church Register, 1872-1897
- Cascade County, First Methodist Church Marriages of Cascade, Deer Lodge and Yellowstone Counties
- Chouteau County, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Records
- Chouteau County, St Paul's Episcopal Church Records
- Glasgow, Marriage, Cemetery and Bible Records
- Havre, Early Church and Cemetery Records of Montana
- Helena, First Baptist Church Church Record, 1886-1898
- Madison County, Church Records, 1874-1904
- Missoula, Catholic Church. Missoula Mission Church Records, 1877-1907
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!