church records

17 Sep 2014

Newly Discovered New England Church Records

Colonial-era New England church records are being gathered, transcribed, and digitized by the Congregational Church Library and Archives.

New England’s Hidden Histories: Colonial-Era Church Records are now being made available online by the Congregational Library, according to their website, History Matters. The New England church records include digital copies of microfilmed records already in the library archive, and other records discovered by project participants and often donated by individual congregations for safekeeping by the Congregational Library and research access.

According to History Matters:

Congregational church records are an unparalleled source of information about the religious activities of the early colonists, and about many other aspects of early American life as well. They provide a richly detailed view of town governments and social customs, data on births and marriages and deaths, and demonstrate the ways that ordinary people participated in community-wide decision-making — information that is simply not available in […]

30 Mar 2014

Some Thoughts on Reading German Parish Microfilm

Warning: genealogy whining ahead. I have some thoughts on reading German parish microfilm – a LOT of German parish microfilm that looked just like the screenshot on the right.

I was lucky to be at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, with every roll of microfilm available. So I did due diligence, reading German parish microfilm for five days for every village in my search area – but with no results.

Why did I pick genealogy? Why not something easier, like taking up home dentistry, a backyard moon launch, or counting grains of sand on the beach?

So after all those hours and rolls of German records, I have to say there are two people I dislike, however pointlessly retroactive.

The pastor:

Let’s leave handwriting and spelling out of it. Not fair to pick on the guy when that was his job to be the educated person in a village who was responsible for creating vital records, now is it?

But I’m so glad the pastor made sure write JOHANN GOTTFRIED and MARIA ANNA in letters two inches high and then write the surname in tiny tiny script buried somewhere in the record like it was a secret. And of course, the pastor made sure use a mix of Sütterlinschrift, Kurrentschrift, Roman letters, plus some Latin and Polish mixed in, just to keep things light.

And yes, some of that handwriting strongly resembles a chicken on acid who ran through an inkwell before it made a break for freedom running across the pages of the parish register.

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2 Nov 2012

Follow Friday: Free Quaker Genealogy Resources Online

Quakers in your family tree? The Quaker Information Center at the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana, can probably help. Their site has information on Quakerism, a resource list of printed publications, and this list of major collections of U.S. Quaker archives:

Following are some of the major collections of the records of U.S. Friends meetings. It would be helpful and appreciated if you would review the web pages of these collections before making inquiries to them:

  • Most archives of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Baltimore Yearly Meeting are stored with one or both of the two libraries listed below.
  • The records of New York Yearly Meeting are deposited in the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. Friends Historical Library Swarthmore College Phone: 610-328-8496 Email: friends@swarthmore.edu (See the link for “genealogy.”)
  • Archives for Indiana and Western and Northern Yearly Meetings are housed at
5 Oct 2012

Follow Friday: Evangelical Central Archive in Berlin

Today’s Follow Friday is the Evangelical Central Archive in Berlin, which has a great collection of German parish registers from the former Prussian church provinces beyond the Oder-Neisse border (Eastern Prussia, Western Prussia, Back Pomerania, Posen, eastern territories of Mark Brandenburg and Silesia) and some Protestant military church registers.

The repository has the following holdings:

  • About 7000 Parish Registers from Protestant parishes which belonged to the former eastern provinces of the Protestant Church of the Old Prussian Union. These areas today belong to Poland, Russia, and Lithuania. German Protestant parishes no longer exist in these areas.
  • About 763 military church records of the Military Church
  • About 70 Parish Registers from German-speaking congregations outside of Germany.
  • Personal records from Danish refugee camps (1943-1949) are available for official use only.

Click here to search for parish registers by village. The fee schedule for genealogical research is provided here. And here is a link to the search interface (with English translation by […]