Mississippi Church Records

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mississippi Wiki Topics
Beginning Research
Record Types
Mississippi Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Under French and Spanish rule beginning in the 17th century, European colonists were mostly Roman Catholics. The growth of the cotton culture after 1815 brought in tens of thousands of Anglo-American settlers each year, most of whom were Protestants from Southeastern states. Due to such migration, there was rapid growth in the number of Protestant churches, especially Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist.

The revivals of the Great Awakening in the late 18th and early 19th centuries initially attracted the "plain folk" by reaching out to all members of society, including women and blacks. Both slaves and free blacks were welcomed into Methodist and Baptist churches. Independent black Baptist churches were established before 1800 in Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia, and later developed in Mississippi as well.

In the post-Civil War years, religion became more influential as the South became known as the "Bible Belt".

Since the 1970s, fundamentalist conservative churches have grown rapidly, fueling Mississippi's conservative political trends among whites. In 1973 the Presbyterian Church in America attracted numerous conservative congregations. As of 2010, Mississippi remained a stronghold of the denomination, which originally was brought by Scots immigrants.

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010 the Southern Baptist Convention had 907,384 adherents and was the largest religious denomination in the state, followed by the United Methodist Church with 204,165, and the Roman Catholic Church with 112,488. Other religions have a small presence in Mississippi; as of 2010, there were 5,012 Muslims; 4,389 Hindus; and 816 Bahá'í.[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!

Dutch Reformed[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, Mississippi.
b. Click on Places within United States, Mississippi 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, Mississippi [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.


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 a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.

Here you will find archive information unique to the state. Many more archives are kept by denomination. For denominational archives, go to Searching for Church Records by Denomination.

Baptist[edit | edit source]

Mississippi Baptist Historical Collection
Leland Speed Library
Mississippi College
200 S. Capitol Street
P.O. Box 4024
Clinton, MS 39060
Phone: (601)-925-3434

  • Genealogy Go to "What We Have" and click on the link "Church records held at MBHC" to download this list.

Histories of the Baptists include:


Lutheran[edit | edit source]

James R. Crumley Jr. Archives
4201 Main St.
Columbia, SC 29203

Phone: 803-461-3234
E-mail: crumleyarchivist@gmail.com

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

Methodist[edit | edit source]

J.B. Cain Archives of Mississippi Methodism
Millsaps-Wilson Library
Millsaps College
1701 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39210
Phone: (601) 974-1073
Fax: (601) 974-1082

  • Active churches hold their own records. Records of discontinued churches are transferred to the Archives by the District Superintendent's Office.

Genealogists are welcome to use the collections in the Archives during regular hours, and the College Archivist will assist. Prior arrangements are strongly encouraged, due to schedule variations. For a fee of $20 per name, the College Archivist will conduct a general search of basic resources in the collection and advise on the likelihood of further information, providing photocopies when appropriate and possible. Requests of this nature may be by U.S. Mail, using a Genealogy Request Form.


Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Diocese of Biloxi
1790 Popps Ferry Road
Biloxi, MS 39532
Phone: (228) 702-2100


The diocese includes the counties of: Covington, Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion, Pearl River, Perry, Stone, Walthall and Wayne.[2]


Diocese of Jackson Archives
237 East Amite
P.O. Box 2248
Jackson, MS 39225
Phone: (601) 969-1880

  • Genealogy – The diocese does not provide genealogical research in the archives. Those tracing a family history will be referred to an independent researcher approved by the archivist and bishop. To open the records there is an initial $25 fee payable to the Diocese of Jackson Archives. Please note: Current records are not accessible, only records prior to 1918 are available for search by our approved researcher. All requests for genealogical information must be submitted in writing along with the $25 fee to: Archives, Diocese of Jackson, P.O. Box 2248, Jackson, MS 39225-2248. We do not accept telephone inquiries for genealogy.


Requests are handled in the order in which they arrive. Please allow at least 12 weeks for completed requests. The diocese includes the counties of: Adams, Alcorn, Amite, Attala, Bolivar, Benton, Calhoun, Carroll, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Claiborne, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, Copiah, DeSoto, Franklin, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Itawamba, Jasper, Jefferson, Kemper, Lafayette, Lauderdale, Leake, Lee, Leflore, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Panola, Pike, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Simpson, Smith, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Tunica, Union, Warren, Washington, Webster, Wilkinson, Winston, Yalobusha and Yazoo.[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. "Mississippi: Religion" in Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi#Religion. Accessed 9 July 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.