Arkansas Church Records

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Arkansas Wiki Topics
Arkansas flag.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
Arkansas Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Arkansas, like most other Southern states, is part of the Bible Belt and is predominantly Protestant. The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Southern Baptist Convention with 661,382; the United Methodist Church with 158,574; non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 129,638; the Catholic Church with 122,662; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 31,254. [1]

Information Found in the Records[edit | edit source]

To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content. Click on these links to learn about a specific record type:

Finding the Records[edit | edit source]

Look for online records.[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Caution sign.png

Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available. Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, relationships, and other details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Other Collections[edit | edit source]

Look for digital copies of church records in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The Family History Library (FHL) has a substantial collection of original church records and transcripts on microfilm for churches in the United States.
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under the state, county, or town.
  • If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
  • Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
  • To find records:
a. Click on the records of United States, Arkansas.
b. Click on Places within United States, Arkansas and a list of counties will appear.
c. Click on your county if it appears.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Click on Places within United States, Arkansas [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
f. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
g. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
h. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Consult available finding aids.[edit | edit source]

These aids generally provide lists of records that are known to exist and information on their location.

Many denominations have collected their records into central repositories. You can write to the following addresses to learn where the records are located:

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]

Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.

  • Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
  • To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
  • Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
  • A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
  • If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
  • See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
  • Each denomination page offers an online address directory of local churches for that denomination.

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for

State Archives[edit | edit source]

Arkansas State Archives
One Capitol Mall, #215
Little Rock, AR 72201

Telephone: 501.682.6900
Fax: 802-000-0000

Baptist[edit | edit source]

First Methodist Episcopal Church, South.jpg

Arkansas Baptist State Convention Collection
Riley Library Special Collections
Ouachita Baptist University
410 Ouachita
Arkedelphia, AR 71998
Phone: (870) 245-5000
Fax: (870) 245-5500

"Special Collections at Ouachita Baptist University serves as the official repository for historical records of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and as such, has an unsurpassed collection of both archival materials and secondary resources on Arkansas Baptists. A large body of church records, association minutes, pastoral papers, recorded sermons, organizational records (like the Woman’s Missionary Union) and missionary papers document the history of the Baptist faith both in and outside of Arkansas, with a particular emphasis on Southern Baptists. Digital access to many issues of the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine is also available."[1]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod
4803 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa OK 74105

Phone:(918) 492-4288
E-mail:ida@arokoffice.org

  • Archives hold records for closed churches. For open churches write directly to the local church.

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Arkansas United Methodist Archives
Olin C. Bailey Library
Hendrix College
1600 Washington Street
Conway, AR 72032
Phone: (501) 336-9321
Fax: (501) 336-9001
E-mail: arkmethodist@hendrix.edu

"The Arkansas United Methodist Archives is located on the second floor of Bailey Library at Hendrix College. The collection includes records relevant to the history of Arkansas Methodism and its antecedent organizations. The archives collects materials in the following categories:
Records of the Little Rock and North Arkansas Annual Conferences and their antecedent organizations, including Annual Conference :::Journals and other historically significant materials.
Records of churches within the Conferences, specifically church histories, membership record books, property transactions, and photographs.
Biographical information of Conference clergy, diaconal ministers and missionaries.
General history of world, American, and Arkansas Methodism."[2]

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Diocese of Little Rock
2500 N. Tyler St.
Little Rock, AR 72207
Phone: (501) 664-0340


The diocese includes the counties of: Arkansas, Ashley, Baxter, Benton, Boone, Bradley, Calhoun, Carroll, Chicot, Clark, Clay, Cleburne, Cleveland, Columbia, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Crittenden, Cross, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Greene, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lee, Lincoln, Little River, Logan, Lonoke, Madison, Marion, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Phillips, Pike, Poinsett, Polk, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Scott, Searcy, Sevier, Sharp, St. Francis, Stone, Sebastian, Union, Van Buren, Washington, White, Woodruff and Yell.[2]

Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held. To find a society near you, consult these lists:

Next, go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination.[edit | edit source]

There are frequently additional, nationwide or regional archives and online collections for each denomination. Find the article for your ancestors' denomination and follow the instructions there to access these sources.

Wiki Articles for Records of Major Religious Denominations



Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details


Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Arkansas: Religion", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkansas#Religion, accessed 27 June 2020.
  2. Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.