Adventures in Genealogy Adventures in Genealogy

Church Records

Or "Rednecks, Missed Opportunities and Tons of Records"

by Uncle Hiram

One of the least used of the many avenues of research, available to the genealogist, is church records. This is probably because most folks don't realize what a treasure trove of info is hidden in these records.

Let's take a few moments and examine some of the documents and information that you might find in the church. There are six major types of records available. I would like to briefly touch on each of these six types of documents.

  1. Baptism and Christening Records - You can use these to find the names of a person's parents, date of birth and you can document the person's religious affiliation.

  2. Marriage Records - Aside from the obvious information, you want to pay attention to the witnesses which are frequently relatives.

  3. Death Records - Again, aside from the obvious information you can mine, these records for additional vital info. For Example: the cemetery the person was buried in, spouses name, list of pallbearers (Frequently family) and possibly a list of survivors.

  4. Confirmation records - You can get the person's full name from this document, date of birth, parents name and more.

  5. Membership records - You can use these records to track your family's participation. Look for family members dropping off and joining. This could indicate that they moved or died, when new family members are added it could give a clue on a marriage or birth.

  6. Miscellaneous records -- such as committee's, deacons and religious classes can be used to track your family.

In closing I want to remind you that the Churches don't have to share these records with us, so be polite and make sure you thank the church secretary.

I want to thank Taz EQ@aol.com for the research that went into this column. For more reading on this subject I wanna suggest the following URLs:

  • http://www.bhocutt.com/Genealogy/Talks/church_records.htm
  • http://www.cyndislist.com/religion.htm
  • http://www.graonline.com/cgi-bin/gra/getlesson?-1+0+English+C3L2P1+graheader+gratrailer
  • http://www.rootsweb.com/~rwguide/lesson17.htm

    -Adios and Keep Smiling!

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    About the Author
    "I am not rich or famous so I don't have a pre-prepared Bio written by some high paid ghost rider. So I will just give Yall the relevant facts."

    - Bill Hocutt (Uncle Hiram)

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