Massachusetts Church Records
Before 1900 the major religious groups in Massachusetts were:
- Roman Catholics
The Congregational Church was the predominant church until the end of the 18th century. Many church records were published with the town vital records.
1889 Church Records. There is a list of the churches in each town, the date of organization, kinds of records kept, years covered, and condition of the records as of 1889 in Wright's Report on the Custody and Condition of the Public Records (see Massachusetts Archives and Libraries).
The Family History Library has many published and manuscript records of Baptist, Congregational, and Society of Friends congregations. A useful index of marriages recorded by early churches is:
Bailey, Frederic W. Early Massachusetts Marriages Prior to 1800. Three Volumes in one, 1897–1914. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. (Family History Library book 974.4 V2b; film 874200; fiche 6051393.) This book has records of marriages for more than 111 towns.
Many denominations have collected their records into central repositories. You can write to the following addresses to learn where their records are located:
American Baptist Historical Society
The Library in Rochester is now closed to researchers, with interim director Betsy Dunbar working full-time, preparing collections for packing. We are not accepting any more research requests "by mail" in 2007 nor are we scheduling appointments to our Rochester Library at this time. We will also close the Valley Forge Archives Center to visitors beginning in mid-June. We are inviting researchers to plan to visit us in 2008 at our new location on the Atlanta campus of Mercer University.
An informative history is:
Brush, John Woolman. Baptists in Massachusetts. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 1970. (Family History Library book 974.4 K2bj.)
A historical perspective is found in:
Goodwin, John A. The Pilgrim Republic: An Historical Review of the Colony of New Plymouth, with Sketches of Other New England Settlements, the History of Congregationalism, and the Creeds of the Period. Boston, Massachusetts: Tickner, 1888. (Family History Library film 1465570.)
The Diocesan Library and Archives
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
138 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02111
Telephone: 617–482–4826, ext. 504
For histories of the Episcopal church see:
Duffy, Mark J., ed. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts 1784-1984. [Boston, Massachusetts]: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 1984. (Family History Library book 974.4 K2e.)
Tyng, Dudley. Massachusetts Episcopalians, 1607-1957. [Boston, Massachusetts]: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, . (Family History Library book 974.4 K2t.)
Society of Friends (Quakers)
Rhode Island Historical Society
121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906
An informative history of Quakers in Massachusetts is:
Hallowell, Richard P. The Quaker Invasion of Massachusetts. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1883. (Family Hisory Library book 974.4 K2h.) Illustrates the persecution the Quakers received from colonial authorities. Has examples of the strength and conviction of the Quakers' religious beliefs.
American Jewish Historical Society
160 Herrick Road
Newton Centre, MA 02459
Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia
The Krauth Memorial Library
7301 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119-1794
Tel. (215) 248-4616 (800) 286-4616
Fax. (215) 248-4577
Boston University School of Theology Library
745 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Archdiocese of Boston
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184-3839
Phone: (617) 254-0100
Diocese of Fall River Archives
362 Highland Avenue
P.O. Box 2577
Fall River, MA 02722
Phone: (508) 675-1311
Diocese of Springfield
P.O. Box 1730
Springfield, MA 01102
Phone: (413) 732-3175
Diocese of Worcester
49 Elm Street
Worcester, MA 01609
Phone: (508) 791-7171
The diocese includes the county of: Worcester
THE DROUIN COLLECTION:
Drouin Collection 1621-1967 at Ancestry.ca. When searching these databases, be creative in the spellings as well as the various focuses in searching for an ancestor. The French language has many possible spellings for a name, as well as there are errors in the indexing.
This French-Canadian collection has over 15 million genealogical and vital records entries; they were microfilmed by the Institut Généalogique Drouin. In Quebec, under the French Regime, there were two sets of records kept: a copy for the civil government archives and a copy for the ecclesiastical church archives. The Drouin collection is a civil copy of these entries. Please note that the cutoff date of this collection is in the early 1940s; only a small percentage of entries were covered from 1948 to 1967.
This collection is divided into six databases: 1. Quebec Vital and Church Records, 1621-1967 2. Ontario French Catholic Church Records, 1747-1967, 3. Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954, 4. Acadia French Catholic Church Records, 1670-1946, 5. Quebec Notarial Records, 1647-1942, and 6. Miscellaneous French Records, 1651-1941. For details about these six databases, see "The Drouin Collection: Six Databases" at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/The_Drouin_Collection:_Six_databases .
Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954: This database only contains the French Catholic parish records from the United States; in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church, and so on. They are written mainly in French, as well as English, Latin, and Italian.
Archives of the Archdiocese of Boston
2121 Commonwealth Avenue
Brighton, MA 02135-3193
Telephone: 617–254–0100, ext. 108
Unitarian/UniversalistAndover-Harvard Theological Library
Harvard Divinity School
45 Francis Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138