Alabama Church Records 1

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alabama Wiki Topics
Alabama flag.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
Alabama Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources
Moderator
The FamilySearch moderator for Alabama is Dwsmith2.

Contents


Methods and Tips for Finding Church Records[edit | edit source]

For tips on locating church records, see Locating Church Records, by Val D. Greenwood.

Online Resources[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.

Baptist Collections[edit | edit source]

Catholic Collections[edit | edit source]

The Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

Community of Christ (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) Collections[edit | edit source]

Anglican/Episcopal Collections[edit | edit source]

Methodist Collections[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian Collections[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Alabama is located in the middle of the Bible Belt, a region of numerous Protestant Christians. Alabama has been identified as one of the most religious states in the United States, with about 58% of the population attending church regularly. A majority of people in the state identify as Evangelical Protestant. As of 2010, the three largest denominational groups in Alabama are the Southern Baptist Convention, The United Methodist Church, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant. Many Baptist and Methodist congregations became established in the Great Awakening of the early 19th century, when preachers proselytized across the South. The Presbyterian churches, were strongly associated with Scots-Irish immigrants of the 18th century and their descendants.[1]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. Sometimes, you will only find a simple membership list. This outline will show the types of details which might be found in the best case scenario. Denominations following practices learned in Europe, where there are state churches (such as the Anglican/Episcopal, Catholic, and Lutheran), are more likely to have full records.

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Step 1: Look for Online Records Both in the Listing at the Top of This Page and Under Individual Archives and Religions.[edit | edit source]

Many records have been digitized and posted online, where they are easily searched. These are listed at the top of the page and on the Alabama Online Genealogy Records page. Archives will sometimes post online databases of records.

Step 2: Look for Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog state-wide, county-wide, or for a town.
  • Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library.
  • 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, Alabama.
b. Click on Places within United States, Alabama 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, Alabama [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.

Step 3: Research Church Record Holdings in Person or by Correspondence in Government/Educational/Denominational Archives.[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.

State Archives[edit | edit source]

Alabama Department of Archives and History
P.O. Box 300100
624 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36130

Telephone:334-242-4435


University Archives[edit | edit source]

Samford University Library
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229

Telephone:205-726-2196
E-mail: referenc@samford.edu

Denominational Archives[edit | edit source]

For archives of a particular religion, go to Major Religious Denominations and Their Archives.

Step 4: 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 this list:

Step 5: Correspond With or Visit Local Churches.[edit | edit source]

  • Some denominations centralize storage of church records in archives.
  • The most recent records are still held in the local churches. For addresses for these, see listings under each denomination.
  • See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.

Denominations[edit | edit source]

Anglican/Episcopal Church Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

St. Mary's on the Highland Episcopal Church
Episcopal Statistics in Alabama 1830 to 1898[2]
Baptisms Confirmations Marriages Burials Deacons Made Priests Ordained Churches Consecrated
24,921
15,402
5,574
11,184
75
65
30

A list of the Episcopal congregations in Alabama before 1939 is:

  • Inventory of the Church Archives of Alabama: Protestant Episcopal Church. Birmingham, Alabama: Alabama Historical Records Survey Project, 1939. FHL book 976.1 K2h; film 897366 item 3; digital version at FamilySearch Books. This gives the location of each church with a brief history and describes the types and years of records that existed for each congregation in 1939.

For a history, consult:

  • Whitaker, Walter C. History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Alabama 1763-1891. Birmingham, Ala.: Roberts & Son, 1898. Digital version at FamilySearch Books - free.

Baptist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Archives[edit | edit source]

First Baptist Church, Montgomery

Special Collection, Samford University Library
Samford University
Harwell Goodwin Davis Library
800 Lakeshore Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35229-0001
Phone: (205)726-2748

See Alabama Archives and Libraries. The Samford University Library Website has an inventory of their records and contains many different Alabama denominations in their collection besides Baptist. Also included are microfilmed records of the American Missionary Association, a interdenominational missionary society devoted to abolitionist principles beginning in 1846.

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • Holcombe, Hosea. A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Alabama. 1840. Reprint, Bessemer, Alabama: West Jefferson County Historical Society, 1974. FHL book 976.1 K21h This history of the Baptist Church to 1840 is indexed.
  • Flynt, F. Wayne. Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998.
  • Bledsoe, W.C. History of the Liberty (East) Baptist Association of Alabama. Atlanta, Ga.: Constitution Job Office, 1886. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.
  • Riley, B.F. A Memorial History of the Baptists of Alabama: Being an Account of the Struggles and Achievements of the Denomination from 1808 to 1923. Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1923. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.

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

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Community of Christ Church Records (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

More records of the Community of Christ are available on the FamilySearch Catalog. Search for places within Alabama.

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Community of Christ Church Finder

Congregational Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Jehovah's Witnesses Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Lutheran Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Methodist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Fort Deposit, Alabama United Methodist Church

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Writing to Archives[edit | edit source]

Houghton Memorial Library
Huntingdon College
1500 E. Fairview Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36106-2148
Phone: (334) 833-4421
Fax: (334) 263-4465
E-mail: edidwell@huntingdon.edu

Charles Andrew Rush Library
Birmingham-Southern College
900 Arkadelphia Road
P.O. Box 549020
Birmingham, AL 35254-9990
Phone: (205) 226-4740
Fax: (205) 226-4743

Histories of the Methodist Church in Alabama include:

  • Lazenby, Marion Elias, History of Methodism in Alabama and West Florida. N.p., 1960. FHL book 976.1 K2L. This book includes a list of deceased ministers and a name and subject index.
  • West, Anson. A History of Methodism in Alabama. Nashville, Tenn.: Pub. House, Methodist Episcopal Church South, 1893. Digital version at FamilySearch Books - free.

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Pentecostal/Evangelical Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian Church Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

More Presbyterian church records are available on the FamilySearch Catalog. Search for places within Alabama.

Writing to Archives[edit | edit source]

First Presbyterian Huntsville

Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: (215) 627-1852
Fax: (215) 627-0509

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Early Presbyteries (with years organized): Alabama Presbytery (1821), Elyton Presbytery (1831), Birmingham Presbytery (1896), Talladega Presbytery (1836), Springville Presbytery (1880), Robert Donnell Presbytery (1890), The New Hope Presbytery(1838), and The McGready Presbytery (1840/1).[3]

Histories of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church include:

  • Hall, James H.B. "The History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Alabama Prior to 1826," Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 4 (1904):365-394. Digital version at Internet Archive - free. Identifies minute books available for early Presbyteries. The early Presbyteries did not keep records of baptisms, marriages, and burials.

Quaker/Society of Friends Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Roman Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

The Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

  • Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954  Ancestry ($). This database only contains the French Catholic parish records from the United States includong Alabama. It is the U.S. part of the U.S. and French-Canadian Drouin Collection. For more details see The Drouin Collection: Six Databases The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church, and so on. They are written mainly in French, as well as English, Latin, and Italian.

More Catholic church records are available on the FamilySearch Catalog. Search for places within Alabama.


Writing to Archives[edit | edit source]

The diocese includes the counties of: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman , DeKalb, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston.[4]

Archdiocese of Mobile Archives
14 S. Franklin St.
Mobile, AL 36602
Phone: (251) 415-3850

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Russell, Washington and Wilcox.[4]

St. Leo's Catholic Church Demopolis

State of Alabama[edit | edit source]

Alabama Department of Archives and History
624 Washington Ave.
P.O. Box3 00100
Montgomery, AL 36130-3601

Telephone:(334) 242-4435

Collection includes Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Mobile, Alabama)

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Seventh-Day Adventist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Unitarian Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Other Independent Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

  • This page covers the major Christian denominations. Your ancestors may have belonged to an independent local church that was not affiliated with any of these larger bodies. To find these smaller churches in Google Maps, search the name of your ancestors's town using the keywords "churches near [TOWN NAME]."
  • It is also possible to find some churches with immigrant-based congregations, such as Armenian, Latvian, Lithuanian, by using Google.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Alabama", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama#Religion, accessed May 2020.
  2. R.H. Cobbs and W.C. Whitaker, "Statistics of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama," Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 2 (1898):83-89. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.
  3. James H.B. Hall, "The History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Alabama Prior to 1826," Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 4 (1904):392-394. Digital version at Internet Archive - free.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.