Bibliography: Religions and Records in America 1600-2000 (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course US: Religious Records - Part 2  by Beverly Whitaker, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
  • Carter, Fran. Searching American Church Records. Bountiful, Utah: AGLL, 1995. This book is intended to help persons locate the church records of early Americans. The author suggests what might be found in these records as well as how to use them in genealogical research. A glossary is included.
  • Dougherty, Richard W. “Church Sources.” In Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records. Kory L. Meyerink, editor. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Incorporated, 1998. This lengthy chapter is a comprehensive and current resource.
  • Gooldy, Ray. Researching Church Records in America. Indianapolis: Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe, 1993. This book suggests ways to locate church records. Focus is on American church records after the Revolutionary War: tithing, births, deaths, marriages, cemetery, and christening records, excommunications, membership lists, proceedings.
  • Gaustad, Edwin S. Historical Atlas of Religions in America. New York: Harper and Row, 1976. Its 72 maps and 62 charts and graphs make it an indispensable reference source for a study of any religious group in America.
  • Heisey, John W. Church and Tombstone Research. York, PA: J. W. Heisey, 1987. The author outlines what records can be found from churches and from undertakers, death certificates, coroners’ records, and tombstones. Addresses of denomination archives and a list of church record inventories are provided.
  • Jacquet, Constant H. ed. Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, annual. It lists all major current denominations in the United States and Canada with the names and addresses of current officers. It provides a capsule history of each denomination, its distinctive doctrinal position, main depositories of church historical material, and church-related colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.
  • Kirkham, E. Kay. A Survey of American Church Records. 4th Edition. Logan, UT: Everton Publishers, 1978. Several editions of this title have been published. The fourth edition, revised and enlarged, contains Volumes I and II. Kirkham dealt with both major and minor denominations before 1880-1890. He sketched the religious migrations of some of the major denominations. This book contains an excellent eight-page glossary of religious words and terms. It also provides a major survey of records by states (pp 59-320). However, many of the addresses are out of date since the book was copyrighted twenty-five years ago.
  • Mead, Frank S. Revised by Samuel S. Hill.Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 10th edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995. Most libraries will have a copy of this or an earlier edition on their reference shelves. This book is widely recognized as an objective and reliable source of information about religious bodies in the United States, with more than 200 groups discussed. It outlines historical background, doctrines, and governmental organization. This volume contains a list of addresses for denominational headquarters, bibliographies, and a glossary of terms.
  • Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992. The author provides an excellent historical overview of the evolution of Christianity in the United States and Canada from the early 17th century to the present. It includes five statistical tables which graphically show the denominational shares of religious adherents for various periods.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses US: Religious Records - Part 2 offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

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