Indiana Church Records
|Indiana Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
- 1 Historical Background
- 2 Information Found in the Records
- 3 Finding the Records
- 3.1 Look for online records.
- 3.2 Look for digital copies of church records in the FamilySearch Catalog.
- 3.3 Consult available finding aids.
- 3.4 Correspond with or visit the actual churches.
- 3.5 Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.
- 3.6 Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.
- 4 Next, go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination.
- 5 Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor
- 6 References
Information Found in the Records
To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content. Click on these links to learn about a specific record type:
Finding the Records
Look for online records.
Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:
- Church records found in State of Indiana, Daughters of the American Revolution
- 1743-1966 - Indiana, Church Records, 1743-1966, index, and some images. Incomplete.
- 1773-1933 - Indiana, births and christenings, 1773-1933, indes.
- 1780-1992 - Indiana, marriages, 1780-1992, indes.
- U.S., Dutch Christian Reformed Church Membership Records, 1856-1970, index and images, ($). Incomplete.
- U.S., Dutch Christian Reformed Church Vital Records, 1856-1970, index and images, ($). Incomplete.
- 1781-1969 - U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969, index and images, incomplete.($)
- 1837-1970 - Indiana, United Methodist Church Records, 1837-1970, index and images, ($) Card index to memoirs of Methodist ministers
- U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970, index and images, ($). Incomplete.
- Abstracts of the records of the Society of Friends in Indiana
- 1681-1935 - U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, index and images, ($). Incomplete.
- 1836-1921 - Indiana, Selected Quaker Meeting Directories, 1836-1921, ($), index/images.
Look for digital copies of church records in the FamilySearch Catalog.
- 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, Indiana.
- b. Click on Places within United States, Indiana 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, Indiana [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. . 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.
These aids generally provide lists of records that are known to exist and information on their location.
- Heiss, Willard et al. Indiana Source Book: Genealogical Material from the Hoosier Genealogist. 10 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana Historical Society, Family History Section, 1977-. FHL Collection book 977.2 D29h v. 1
- A Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations in Indiana. 3 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: Historical Records Survey, 1941. Volume one pertains to Marion County. Volume two is for the Calumet Region (Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties). Volume three pertains to Northern Indiana, part one: Adventist Bodies-Mennonite Bodies; part two: Methodist- Y.W.C.A. In addition to an index to churches in Indiana, there is an index of denominations that includes the name and location of the churches.
- 'A Roster of Baptist Associations in the State of Indiana
- Rudolph, L. C. and Judith E. Endelman. Religion in Indiana: A Guide to Historical Resources. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press, 1986. FHL Collection book 977.2 K23r. This book contains an excellent bibliography of published works, a list of repositories for the different denominations, and histories of congregations.
- Rudolph, L. C. Hoosier Faiths: A History of Indiana Churches and Religious Groups. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995. FHL Collection book 977.2 K2ru. This describes general history and Indiana history, and includes biographies of significant local leaders of 50 major religious groups. It is indexed.
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.
- Each denomination page offers an online address directory of local churches for that denomination.
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.
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.
Indiana Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 10507
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46852-0507
Elkhart and Lagrange Counties in northeastern Indiana are home to the third largest concentration of Amish in North America.
The Amish in several communities in Indiana have published directories of their communities at regular intervals from the 1980s to the present, including Elkhart-Lagrange-Noble Counties, Adams-Jay Counties, Allen County and Vicinity', and Nappannee-Kokomo-Milroy. These volumes feature a wealth of information for each family, including husband’s name, wife’s maiden name, the names of each spouse’s parents, children’s names, dates of birth for each individual, children’s marriage partners, the family address, husband’s occupation, and notations of whether each child is living at home, married and living within the community, married and living in another Amish community, single and living outside the family home, or has left the Amish faith. The directories also include history of the communities and maps showing locations of Amish homesteads and schools.
Mennonite Historical Library
Harold and Wilma Good Library
1700 South Main Street
Goshen, Indiana 46526
Phone: (574) 535-7418
Fax: (574) 535-7438
The archives houses the official records of the Mennonite Church and personal papers of Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish and other Anabaptist groups.
Mennonite Historical Library
Harold and Wilma Good Library
1700 South Main Street
Goshen, Indiana 46526
Phone: (574) 535-7418
Fax: (574) 535-7438
The collection of the Mennonite Historical Library includes genealogy resources, history books and Mennonite periodicals.
Mennonite Church USA Archives
3145 Benham Ave, Suite 1
Elkhart, IN 46517
- See also: The Ministerial Directory of the Baptist Churches in the United States of America. Oxford, Ohio: Ministerial Directory Co., 1899.
Disciples of Christ
Christian Theological Seminary Library
1000 W. 42nd St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Phone: (317) 924-1331
Fax: (317) 923-1961
ELCA Region 6 Archives
Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University
2199 East Main Street
Columbus, OH 43209-2334
Phone: (614) 236-6855
- Archives hold records for closed churches. For open churches write directly to the local church.
Archives of DePauw University and Indiana United Methodism
Roy O. West Library
11 E Larabee St
P.O. Box 37
Greencastle, IN 46135-0037
Phone: (765) 658-4406
Fax: (765) 658-4423
The Family History Library has some Indiana Methodist histories and church records. Try a title search in the FamilySearch Catalog for "Indiana Methodist"
- Deceased Ministers of Norwest Indiana Conference, Methodist Church (1854-1898) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
- Deceased Ministers of Northern Indiana Conference, Methodist Church (1844-1916) (members only database, Indiana Genealogical Society)
Archives of the Presbyterian Church of Indiana
P.O. Box 287
Hanover, IN 47243-0287
Phone: (812) 866-7165
Fax: (812) 866-7172
The records of all four Roman Catholic dioceses in Indiana are available on digitized microfilm at the Family History Library. These records include the dioceses of Evansville, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Gary, and Lafayette, plus the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, all to about 1916. They have been digitized and can be used at a Family History Center near you.
Archdiocese of Indianapolis Archives
1400 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
- The Archives can respond to genealogical research requests that take less than 1 hour to complete, with a maximum of 6 requests permitted each year. The archives has some older sacramental records, but it is not a complete listing for each parish. There is no single database containing sacramental records that is searchable by name. The archives can provide copies of available sacramental records originating prior to 1930. Sacramental records for individuals who are or may still be living are considered confidential; requests for these records must be directed to the parish and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Parke, Perry, Putnam, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Switzerland, Union, Vermillion, Washington, and Wayne.
Diocese of Evansville
4200 N. Kentucky Ave.
P.O. Box 4169
Evansville, IN 47724-0169
Phone: (812) 424-5536
- Records for the Diocese of Evansville have been digitized and can be used at a Family History Center near you. For recent records not digitized, contact each local parish.
- The diocese includes the counties of: Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, and Warrick.
Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Archbishop Noll Catholic Center,
915 South Clinton
P.O. Box 390
Fort Wayne, IN 46801
Phone: (260) 422-4611
- Records for the Dioceses of Fort Wayne-South Bend have been digitized and can be used at a Family History Center near you. For recent records not digitized, contact each local parish.
- The diocese includes the counties of: Adams, Allen, Dekalb, Elkhart, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, Steuben, St. Joseph, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.
Diocese of Gary
Merrillville, IN 46410
Phone: (219) 769-9292
- Records for the Dioceses of Gary have been digitized and can be used at a Family History Center near you. For recent records not digitized, contact each local parish.
Diocese of Lafayette
P.O. Box 260
Lafayette, IN 47902-0260
Phone: (765) 742-4852
- Records for the Diocese of Lafayette have been digitized and can be used at a Family History Center near you. For recent records not digitized, contact each local parish.
- The diocese includes the counties of: Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Delaware, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Howard,Jasper, Jay, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Newton, Pulaski, Randolph, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Warren, and White.
- Parish and Institutional Records Collection: Manuscripts and Microfilm This page lists the parish records held in the collection.
University of Notre Dame Archives Repository
607 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
Phone: (574) 631-6448
- Catholic Church records collected by Francis P. Clark of Catholic parishes that closed during the 1950s and following Vatican II throughout Kentucky and the Ohio Valley. During this era, when many Catholic parishes would close, the priests would throw out their old record books. Patrick developed relationships with priests throughout the region and personally visited closing parishes and collected record books, ephemera, and photographs which he later donated to the Notre Dame University Archives where he worked as supervisor of the microfilm department.
Society of Friends (Quakers)
- Friends Collection
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana 47374-4095
Phone: 765 983-1743
- Covers Indiana and Western and Northern Yearly Meetings
- Heiss, Willard. Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana, 6 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana Historical Society, 1962-1977. FHL Collection book 977.2 K28h; FHL Collection fiche 6051380-386. This includes records of births, marriages, deaths, removals, dismissals, and memberships. Another source
- Nelson, Jacquelyn S. Indiana Quakers Confront the Civil War. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 1991. FHL Collection book 977.2 H2n. Appendix C lists Indiana Friends (Quakers) who served in the Civil War. For each man, it generally lists birth date, parents’ names, monthly meeting and county thereof, company, regiment, rank, and death date.
Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.
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.
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
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
- military service details
Carefully 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.
- William Chamberlin Hunt and United States Bureau of the Census, Religious Bodies: 1906 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), Vol. 1:309-311. Digital version at Google Books.
- Davis points out that not all ministers participated, see: Robert S. Davis, "Some Baptist Ministers of South Carolina at the Turn of the Century," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Winter 2004):13-22. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 32
- Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.