overlook the importance of searching church records for their ancestors.
All of the denominations keep records and there are genealogical treasures
awaiting the researcher.
The Baptist Church has many
denominations all of which baptize adults or mature children rather than
infants. Baptismal records may or may not have been kept by the minister
of the church. In the membership records as kept by local congregations,
you usually will not find the ages or parentage although the church
minutes may record a transfer of a member, giving the name of the former
There were many Baptists in
our Southern States, there were also many Baptists in New England and
One of the standard works
on the movement of the Baptist church is The Baptist Heritage: Four
Centuries of Baptist Witness by Leon H. McBeth.
There's a wonderful article
in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly by Wilbur F. Helmbold that
gives the genealogical perspective of using Baptist records.
In Baptist research you
should search baptismal records of adults, minutes of the congregation and
"transfers of letter" into or out of the congregation. You can use those
transfer records to trace the migration paths of families. There are also
journals, periodicals and histories published by either the local
congregation or the general denomination. There are two very good
repositories of Baptist materials at The American Baptist Historical
Society in Rochester, New York (1106 South Goodman St., Rochester, NY
14620. Call 716-473-1740 or use
http://www.crds.edu/aghs.htm or email
[email protected]) and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and
Archives in Nashville, Tennessee. Both of these libraries accept
The Episcopal Church in the
United States is part of the Anglican communion, which have their roots in
the Church of England. Members of the Church of England, as well as
members of the Church of Ireland brought their religion with them to
British North American colonies. The Church of England was the established
religion in many of the colonies before the Revolution.
Members of other churches,
such as Roman Catholic, are often found in the records of the Church of
England during this time.
After the War of
Independence, the congregations of the Church of England were reorganized
as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. It was
not until 1967 that the alternate name, The Episcopal Church, came into
You will find that The
Episcopal Church is organized on a parish and diocesan basis. Each parish
has a rector or parish priest and each diocese is administered by a
In Episcopal records you'll
fine baptisms, marriages, burials, confirmations and communicants.
Marriage and burial records can include important details like parents'
names with mother's maiden name and even occupations and birth places. The
Communicant Rolls may indicate when and from where a member transferred
into the parish and when and to where a member transferred out.
The individual parishes
retain custody of many of the original parish records. Some of the
diocesan archives contain original parish registers or microfilm copies.
You might find copies of the early registers of parishes in state
libraries or archives.
If you wish to contact the
Archives of the Episcopal Church: Research Office, 606 Rathervue Pl., PO
Box 2207, Austin, TX 78768 or call 512-472-6816 or
http://episcopalarchives.org/ or email
The Methodist Church has
had various denominations over the centuries. They all trace their
heritage back to John Wesley, a priest of the Church of England who
started Methodist societies in the1740s in England and Ireland as
supplementary organizations for members of the Church of England and the
Church of Ireland. The earliest Methodist societies in North America began
in the colonies of New York and Maryland in the 1760s.
We'll finish our little
talk about using church records next time.