North Carolina Church Records
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IntroductionChurch records and the information they provide vary greatly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. Records may include names of other relatives who were witnesses or members of the congregation. The members of some churches were predominantly of one nationality or ethnic group.
Major religious denominations were established in North Carolina in the following years: Society of Friends (Quakers) (1672), Anglican (1700), Baptist (1727), Presbyterian (1730), Lutheran (1740), Moravian (1753), and Methodist (1772). The Baptist church was dominant by 1860 and remains so today.
The Family History Library has some church records for the Baptists, Society of Friends, and other groups. The library also has histories of the Baptist, Christian, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Society of Friends, Methodist, Moravian, and Protestant Episcopal denominations.
The Moravians, Lutherans, and Society of Friends kept detailed records, and some of these have been published. Many denominations have collected their records into central repositories. You can write to the following addresses to learn where their records are located:
Baptist Historical Collection
Z. Smith Reynolds Library
Wake Forest University
P.O. Box 7777
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7777 Telephone: 336-758-5089
Free Will Baptist Historical Collection
Mount Olive College
634 Henderson St.
Mount Olive, NC 28365-1699 Telephone: 919-658-7827
Toll Free: 1-800-653-0854
The Primitive Baptist Library
4057 N NC Highway 87
Elon, NC 27244
Library Contact Information:
Phillip Glenn Berry
(An appointment should be made before visiting.)
For a history of the Baptist churches, see:
- Paschal, George Washington. History of the North Carolina Baptists. 2 vols. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Baptist State Convention, 1930–55. FHL Collection 975.6 K2p. There are useful chapters in these volumes concerning the various Baptist associations and groups from the 1600s to about 1860. Mention is made of the various ministers.
There are several inventories that describe the churches and records of Southern Baptist associations, such as:
- Alleghany Association FHL Collection Book 975.6 K2ha; Film 1320847 item 11
- Brunswick Association FHL Collection Film 1036844 item 28
- Central Association FHL Collection Book 975.6 K2hc; Film 1320847 item 4
- Flat River Association FHL Collection Book 975.6 K2hf; Film 1320847 item 1
- Raleigh Association FHL Collection Book 975.6 K2hr; Film 1320847 item 5
- Yancey Association FHL Collection Book 975.6 K2hy; Film 1320847 item 3
A two-volume collection of biographies is:
- Hamby, Robert P. Brief Baptist Biographies, 1707–1982. 2 vols. Greenville, S.C.: A Press, 1982. FHL Collection 975.6 K2h. The Family History Library has volume 2 only.
- The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research has an article "Some Baptist Ministers of South Carolina at the Turn of the Century" which is an 1899 directory of Baptist ministers. It lists biographical details about many ministers born or serving in the state.FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 32
- The Ministerial Directory of the Baptist Churches in the United States of America. Oxford, Ohio: Ministerial Directory Co., 1899. Digital version at Google Books.
Church of England (Anglican, Episcopal)
Diocese of North Carolina
200 West Morgan Street
Raleigh, NC 27619
Diocese of Western North Carolina
900-B Central Park Drive
Asheville, NC 28805
Diocese of East Carolina
705 Doctors Drive
P. O. Box 1336
Kingston, NC 28503
For a history, see:
- London, Lawrence Foushee and Sarah McCulloh Lemmon. The Episcopal Church in North Carolina, 1701-1959. Raleigh, N.C.: The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, 1987. FHL Book 975.6 K2e.
- Fothergill, Gerald. A List of Emigrant Ministers to America, 1690-1811. London: E. Stock, 1904. Digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books; Internet Archive, 1965 reprint: FHL Book 973 W2f 1965
- Weis, Frederick Lewis. The Colonial Clergy of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Boston, Mass.: Society of the Descendants of Colonial Clergy, 1955. FHL Book 975 D3wc; digital version at World Vital Records ($).
Society of the Descendants of the Colonial Clergy points researchers to many valuable resources.
Church of England ministers sent to North Carolina were often educated at the English universities of Cambridge and Oxford. The website Expert Links: English Family History and Genealogy contains links to many of these university's records available online under the "Occupations" section.
The Clergy of the Church of England website (work in progress) also contains details of many of their ministerial careers before departing for America.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
Early church records, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for North Carolina Wards and Branches can be found on film and are located at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The film numbers, for each ward, can be locate through the FamilySearch Catalog . Or by refering to Jaussi, Laureen R., and Gloria D. Chaston. Register of Genealogical Society Call Numbers. 2 vols. Provo, Utah: Genealogy Tree, 1982. FHL Book 979.2258 A3j; FHL Fiche 6031507 (2 fiche). These volumes contain the film numbers for many (but not all) membership and temple record films.
Disciples of Christ
Wilson, NC 27893
Toll Free: 1-800-345-4973
(Call for an appointment.)
Archives, North Carolina Synod
Lutheran Church in America
1988 Lutheran Synod Dr.
Salisbury, NC 28144-5700
For historical background information, see:
- Bernheim, Gotthardt Dellmann, and George H. Cox. The History of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Ministerium of North Carolina: In Commemoration of the Completion of the First Century of Its Existence. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.: Published for the Synod by the Lutheran Publication Society, 1902. FHL Collection 975.6 K2b. The history of the various congregations is discussed. The ministers to about 1900 are listed with the dates when they served.
United Methodist Church Archives
P.O. Box 127 Drew University
36 Madison Ave.
Madison, NJ 07940-3189
Records of the Methodist Episcopal Church are at this archive. Searches are limited to obituaries of ordained clergy and can be conducted for a non-refundable fee.
Western N.C. Conference Archives
3400 Shamrock Drive
P. O. Box 18005
Charlotte, NC 28218
Telephone: 704-535-2260, ext. 44
Eastern North Carolina Conference Archives
1307 Glenwood Ave.
P.O. Box 10955
Raleigh, NC 27605
Southern North Carolina Conference Archives Heritage Center
710 N. Lakeshore Dr.
Lake Junaluska, NC 28745
Southern North Carolina Conference Archives
P. O. Box 1165
Lake Junaluska, NC 28745
457 South Church Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
An extensive set of books about the Moravians in North Carolina is:
- Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, 1752–1879. 11 vols. Raleigh, North Carolina: Edwards & Broughton, 1922–1969. FHL Collection Book 975.6 F2m; Films 1321198 and 1321210–1321211. Each volume is indexed.
- Clewell, John Henry. History of Wachovia in North Carolina; the Unitas Fratrum or Moravian Church in North Carolina During a Century and a Half, 1752-1902. New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1902. Digital version at Internet Archive.
Two Roman Catholic Dioceses serve North Carolina:
The Diocese of Raleigh serves the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Chatham, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilson.
- Archives of the Diocese of Raleigh
The Catholic Center
715 Nazareth Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
- Telephone: 919-821-9700
(call in advance for an appointment)
The Diocese of Charlotte serves the following North Carolina counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, McDowell, Macon, Madison, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, Yancey.
Archives of the Diocese of Charlotte
1524 East Morehead St.
P.O. Box 36776
Charlotte, NC 28236
- Telephone: 704-377-6871
(An appointment is required.)
Society of Friends (Quakers)
Friends Historical Collection
5800 West Friendly Ave.
Greensboro, NC 27410-4175
For histories of North Carolina Quakers, see:
- Anscombe, Francis Charles. I Have Called You Friends: The Story of Quakerism in North Carolina. Boston, Massachusetts: Christopher Publishing House, 1959. FHL Collection 975.6 K2a
- Bowden, James. The History of the Society of Friends in America. 2 vols. London: W. & F.G. Cash, 1850-1854. Digital version of Vol. 1 at Google Books; FHL Collection 973 F2bj v. 1 [Volume 1 includes Carolina.]
The records of the 33 oldest monthly meetings that belonged to the North Carolina yearly meeting of Friends (dating from the 1680s to as late as 1914 in some cases) are published in volume 1 of:
- Hinshaw, William Wade. Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy. 6 Vols. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Edwards Brothers, 1936-1950. Volume I covers North Carolina Monthly Meetings. FHL Collection 973 D2he 1969; digital version at Ancestry ($). To locate copies nearest you, use WorldCat.
Another source is:
- Bjorkman, Gwen Boyer. Quaker Marriage Certificates: Pasquotank, Perquimans, Piney Woods, and Suttons Creek Monthly Meetings, North Carolina, 1677–1800. Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage, 1988. FHL Collection 975.6 K2bg
- U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, (database), ancestry.com
Church records can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog by using a Place Search under:
NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY]- CHURCH RECORDS
NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- CHURCH RECORDS
- 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.