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Disciples of Christ Church in the United States

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History in the United States

Chrisitian Church
Disciples of Christ
Millersburg, Ohio
  • The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)is a Mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States and Canada.The denomination started with the Restoration Movement during the Second Great Awakening. It is often referred to as The Christian Church, The Disciples of Christ, The Disciples, or the D.O.C.
  • In 2008 there were 679,563 members in 3,714 congregations in North America.
  • The name "Disciples of Christ" is shared by three other groups: the Churches of Christ, the Independent Christian churches and churches of Christ, and the Christian Congregation. They emerged from the same roots.
  • The Stone-Campbell movement began as two separate threads, each without knowledge of the other, during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. The first of these two groups, led by Barton W. Stone began at Cane Ridge, Bourbon County, Kentucky. The group called themselves simply Christians. The second, began in western Pennsylvania and Virginia (now West Virginia), led by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell.
  • The two groups united at High Street Meeting House, Lexington, Kentucky, with a handshake between Barton W. Stone and "Raccoon" John Smith, on Saturday, December 31, 1831. Source: Wikipedia

Restoration Movement Family Tree

This Restoration Movement Family Tree diagrams the affiliated branches of this religion.

Finding Records

Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • There are some entries of Disciples of Christ church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog state-wide, county-wide, or for a 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 statewide records:
a. Enter your state name in the "Place" search field of FamilySearch Catalog. You will see a list of topics and, at the top, the phrase "Places within United States, [STATE]".
b. Click on "Church records" in the topic list. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
  • To find county-wide records:
c. From the original page, click on Places within United States, [STATE] and a list of counties will appear.
d. Click on your county.
e. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
  • To find town records:
f. From the list of counties, click on Places within United States, [STATE], [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
g. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
h. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
i. 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.

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.

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.

Addresses:

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.

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.

Disciples of Christ Historical Society

Disciples of Christ Historical Society
7229 Main Street
P.O. Box D
Bethany, WV 26032

Phone: (615) 327-1444
E-mail: info@discipleshistory.org

Disciples of Christ Historical Society is the official archives for congregations of the Stone-Campbell tradition, also known as the Restoration Movement. The Society is incorporated as a general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and serves the three branches (called "streams") of the Stone-Campbell tradition: the Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Society holds the historic records of approximately 23,000 congregations, 40,000 bibliographic files, as well as personal papers of 35,000 members of the denomination, such as Ronald Reagan and Janice Joplin. Source: Wikipedia

Information in the Records

Births and Baptisms: Births were not recorded always and baptisms could be adult or child. Children's baptisms might name just the father. Adult baptisms might mention married couples. Occasionally, an entire family joined the church and were all baptized at once. Baptism was not required, so your ancestor might not show up at all.

Marriages: Name of bride and groom, residences, date of marriage, officiator's name.

Deaths: Mentioned on membership lists.

Membership Lists: Name, maybe maiden name, spouse's name, date joining church, prior congregation, and where moved to when leaving, death date and age at death.

Conversion Stories: Early on, members had to explain how they became converted, in order to join the church.

Other Records: Minute bools, disciplinary actions, financial records, church histories, obituaries of ministers.

Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor

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 gathering 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.