North Carolina Church Records

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Major religious denominations were established in North Carolina in the following years: Society of Friends (Quakers) (1672), Anglican/Episcopal (1700), Baptist (1727), Presbyterian (1730), Lutheran (1740), Moravian (1753), and Methodist (1772). The Baptist church was dominant by 1860 and remains so today.
North Carolina residents, like those of other Southern states, since the colonial era have historically been overwhelmingly Protestant, first Anglican, then Baptist and Methodist. Before the Civil War, the Baptists split into regional associations of the North and South, over the issue of slavery.

By the late 19th century, the largest Protestant denomination in North Carolina was the Baptist, when both whites and blacks were considered, but the latter people had set up their own organizations. After emancipation, black Baptists quickly set up their own independent congregations in North Carolina and other states of the South, as they wanted to be free of white supervision. Black Baptists developed their own state and national associations, such as the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.

The state also has a special history with the Moravian Church, as settlers of this faith (largely of German origin) settled in the Winston-Salem area in the 18th and 19th centuries. Presbyterians, historically Scots-Irish, have had a strong presence in Charlotte and in Scotland County.

Currently, the rapid influx of northerners and immigrants from Latin America is steadily increasing ethnic and religious diversity: the number of Roman Catholics and Jews in the state has increased, as well as general religious diversity. The second-largest Protestant denomination in North Carolina after Baptist traditions is Methodism, which is strong in the northern Piedmont, especially in populous Guilford County. There are also a substantial number of Quakers in Guilford County and northeastern North Carolina. [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 Indexes[edit | edit source]

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Quakers (Society of Friends[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, North Carolina.
b. Click on Places within United States, North Carolina 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, North Carolina [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.

Southern Baptist Convention[edit | edit source]

Inventory of the church archives of North Carolina : sponsored by the North Carolina Historical Commission, Southern Baptist Convention:


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]

Baptist Historical Collection
Special Collections

Z. Smith Reynolds Library
Wake Forest University
P.O. Box 7777
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7777 Telephone: 336-758-5089
Fax: 336-758-5605 


Free Will Baptist Historical Collection
Moye Library
Mount Olive College
634 Henderson St.
Mount Olive, NC 28365-1699 Telephone: 919-658-7827
Toll Free: 1-800-653-0854
Fax: 919-658-8934


The Primitive Baptist Library
4057 N NC Highway 87
Elon, NC 27244 
Phone: 336-484-5503
E-mail: familyproviders@live.com
(An appointment should be made before visiting.)


Church of England (Anglican, Episcopal)[edit | edit source]

These churches maintain records in each individual church. Closed parishes are kept in the diocese listed below:

Diocese of North Carolina
200 West Morgan Street
Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27619

Telephone: 919-834-7474
or 1-800-448-8775
Fax: 919-834-7546


Diocese of Western North Carolina
900-B Central Park Drive
Asheville, NC 28805

Telephone: 828-225-6656
Fax 828-225-6657
E-mail: bishop@diocesewnc.org


Diocese of North Carolina
705 Doctors Drive
P. O. Box 1336
Kingston, NC 28503

Telephone: 252-522-0885
Fax 252-532-5272
E-mail: diocese@diocese-eastcarolina.org


Disciples of Christ[edit | edit source]

Discipliana Collections
Barton College
Wilson, NC 27893

Telephone: 252-399-6352
Toll Free:  1-800-345-4973
(Call for an appointment.)

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.

Moravian[edit | edit source]

  • The Southern Province Moravian Archives
457 S. Church Street
Winston-Salem, N.C. 27101
Phone: (336) 722-1742
Email: moravianarchives@mcsp.org


An extensive set of books about the Moravians in North Carolina is:

  • Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, 1752–1879. 11 vols. Raleigh, North Carolina: Edwards & Broughton, 1922–1969. FHL Collection Book 975.6 F2m; Films 1321198 and 1321210–1321211. Each volume is indexed.

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Archives of the Diocese of Raleigh
The Catholic Center
715 Nazareth Street
Raleigh, NC 27603y

Telephone: 919-821-9700
Fax: 919-821-9705
(call in advance for an appointment)

The Diocese of Raleigh serves the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Beaufort, BertieBladen, BrunswickCamden, Carteret, Caswell, Chatham, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, PamlicoPasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilson.[2]


Archives of the Diocese of Charlotte
1524 East Morehead St.
P.O. Box 36776
Charlotte, NC 28236
Telephone: 704-377-6871
Fax: 704-358-1208
(An appointment is required.)

The Diocese of Charlotte serves the following North Carolina counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Guilford, HaywoodHenderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, McDowell, Macon, Madison, Mecklenburg, MitchellMontgomery, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, Yancey.[2]

Society of Friends (Quakers)[edit | edit source]

  • HEGE Library and Learning Technologies
    Guilford College
    5800 West Friendly Ave
    Greensboro, NC 27410
E-mail: archives@guilford.edu
Covers North Carolina and the southeastern U.S., Baltimore, Philadelphia

Another source is:

  • Bjorkman, Gwen Boyer. Quaker Marriage Certificates: Pasquotank, Perquimans, Piney Woods, and Suttons Creek Monthly Meetings, North Carolina, 1677–1800. Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage, 1988. FHL Collection 975.6 K2bg

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. "North Carolina:Religion" in Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina#Religion. Accessed 15 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.