New York Church Records
The first churches established in New York during the seventeenth century were the Dutch Reformed, French Protestant (Huguenot), and Lutheran churches. As New Englanders continued to migrate to New York, the Congregational Church (Puritans) and Society of Friends (Quakers) grew. Many New Yorkers joined both the Baptists and Presbyterians. By 1775 the Presbyterian Church was the largest denomination in New York.
In the mid-1800s, the Methodist Church was the largest, followed by the Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Dutch Reformed, Congregational, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends (Quakers), Universalist, Lutheran, Union, Christian, Unitarian, and Jewish.
Since then, the Roman Catholic Church has been the largest denomination (particularly in the large cities) due to the large number of immigrants from Ireland and eastern and southern Europe.
The Family History Library has several important collections of church records which are described below under the denominational headings. The names of individuals in many of these records are indexed in the International Genealogical Index. Many church records have been copied and filed with the Daughters of the American Revolution Cemetery, Church, and Town Records, described in New York Genealogy
The following guides describe the towns, denominations, record types, and years available:
- Historical Records Survey. Guide to Vital Statistics Records of Churches in New York State (Exclusive of New York City.) This two volume set is available in the FHL Collection. To locate a copy nearest you, use WorldCat.
- Historical Records Survey. (New York City.) Guide to Vital Statistics in the City of New York, Borough of [Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, or Richmond] Churches. 5 vols. New York, N.Y.: Historical Records Survey, Work Projects Administration, 1942. To locate a copy nearest you, search WorldCat. The links listed below (Bronx and Richmond) are available at the Family History Library.
- Historical Records Survey. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City [various denominations]. New York, N.Y.: Historical Records Survey, 1939–1941. These volumes, available at the Family History Library are:
Some 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
3001 Mercer University Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30341
Phone: (678) 547-6680
For information about the availability of records, see:
- Eltscher, Susan M. The Records of American Baptists in New York and Related Organizations. The book is available in the FHL Collection. For a copy nearest you, use WorldCat.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
Early church records, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for New York 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 Family History Library 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; fiche 6031507). These volumes contain the film numbers for many (but not all) membership and temple record films.
The Congregational Library
14 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone: (617) 523-0470
The Archives of the Reformed Church in America
New Brunswick Theological Seminary
Gardner A. Sage Library
21 Seminary Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1159
Phone: (732) 246-1779
The Family History Library has microfilm copies for many of the Dutch Reformed Church records at the above named archive. The collection is described in Melody Takken Meeter, compiler and Russell L. Gasero, editor, and is available in the FHL Collection. To check for a book copy nearest you, use WorldCat.
Commission on History, Reformed Church in America
122 E. 58th Street
New York, NY 10022
Telephone: (212) 758-1871
The Year Book of the Holland Society of New York, available in the FHL Collection, contains historical material as well as church record abstracts and passenger lists. To use the year books, first consult the Index to Publications listed under the periodical De Halve Maen described in the "Periodicals" section. It indexes publications by name, subject, and locality. Most of the church records in these year books have been extracted for the International Genealogical Index (IGI).
The Family History Library has the Holland Society's 128 volume Holland Society of New York Church Record Collection. The records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Author/Title Search under the title mentioned above and are also listed in the Locality Search under the individual cities or towns. This includes some German Reformed, French Reformed, Lutheran, and Episcopal records. For an inventory of this collection, see:
- Pierre, Marie J., comp. Index to LDS Microfilms of the Church Record Collection of the Holland Society of New York. New York, N.Y.: The Holland Society of New York, 1990. FHL Collection
An index to original baptismal records, transcripts, microfilm, and published works of 17 congregations from 24 volumes of the aforementioned Dutch Reformed Church Record Collection is Wilson Ledley, compiler, Index to Baptismal Surnames in the Reformed Churches of Claverack, Cortlandt, Fishkill, Gallatin/Ancram, Gravesend, Hillsdale/Krum, Kaatsbaan/Saugerties, Kinderhook. (New York, N.Y.: The Holland Society of New York, 1990; available in the FHL Collection.
The Family History Library also has many volumes of Hudson and Mohawk Valley Reformed and Lutheran records transcribed by Arthur C. M. Kelly, Gertrude Barber, and others. Many New York Dutch Reformed church records have also been published in periodicals such as the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.
The FHL Collection has 99 of the 101 volumes of the Royden Woodward Vosburgh, New York Church Records: Vosburgh Collection. Included in the collection are Dutch Reformed, Lutheran, and some Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Congregational, and German Reformed records for Hudson Valley and Mohawk Valley churches (transcribed between 1913 and 1921). Two helpful lists of the churches, first by county and then by town, are at the beginning of the FHL Collectionfilm 017441.
Episcopal Diocese of New York
1047 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025
Phone: (212) 316-7400
Fax: (212) 932-7345
There are also dioceses of Albany, Central New York, Long Island, Rochester, and Western New York. The Family History Library has acquired many Episcopal records for Western New York. The names in many of these records are indexed in the International Genealogical Index.
In 1816 Eleazor WIlliams, an Episcopalian missionary began serving the Oneida Indians. In 1823 the first group of Oneida were removed from New York to Wisconsin. The removal continued for twenty years.
Most synagogue records have not been centralized, so you must write to the local congregation. Addresses are listed in Sidney Lightman, editor, The Jewish Travel Guide (London, England: Jewish Chronicle Publications, 1990; and is available in the FHL Collection). For a copy nearest you, serach WorldCat.
American Jewish Historical Society Library
2 Thornton Road
Waltham, MA 02154
Telephone: (617) 891-8110
Fax: (617) 899-9208
Philadelphia Jewish Archives Centre at the Balch Institute
18 South 7th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1423
Telephone: (215) 925-8090
This archives has the Philadelphia Hebrew Immigrant Society records, which include ship passenger lists, passage order books, and Lipschutz Steamship record books. These are on microfilm in the FHL Collection.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
200 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 967-4100
More New York Jewish records, sources, and archives are described in Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area, mentioned in New York Archives and Libraries.
Library of the Council National Lutheran
50 Madison Avenue
New York City, NY 10010
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
321 Bonnie Lane
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Phone: (847) 690-9410
The Atlantic Distirct-Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
171 White Plains Road
Bronxville, NY 10708
Phone: (914) 337-5700
Fax: (914) 337-7471
For family history research visit the Concordia Historical Institue.
United Methodist Archives Center
General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church
Drew University Library
P.O. Box 127
Madison, NJ 07940
Phone: (201) 408-3189
Fax: (201) 408-3909
The Moravian Archives
41 West Locust Street
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18018
United States of America
Phone: (610) 866-3255
Fax: (610) 866-9210
For information concerning missions to the American Indians visit Moravian Missions Among American Indians. For a map and list of missions visit Early Moravian Missions in Eastern Pennsylvania and Surrounding Areas 1740-1773.
Presbyterian Historical Society and Department of History
United Presbyterian Church in the USA
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147-1516
Most Catholic records have not been gathered to central repositories. You must determine the town where your ancestors lived and the parish they most likely attended and then write to that parish.
If a parish has closed, the records may have been sent to the diocesan archives or a nearby parish. If the diocese does not have an archives, the diocese chancellor usually knows where the records are.
New York is divided into eight dioceses:
Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
40 North Main Ave.
Albany, New York 12203
Phone: (518) 453-6600
The Albany Diocese includes the counties of: Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton(part), Herkimer (part), Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn
310 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, New York 11215
Phone: (718) 399-5900 or (718) 965-7300
Diocese of Buffalo
795 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 847-8700
Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Avenue
New York City, New York 10022
Phone: (212) 371-1000
According to their website, the archives does not hold genealogical records.
Diocese of Ogdensburg
PO Box 369
622 Washington Street
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
Phone: (315) 393-2920
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester
1150 Buffalo Rd.
Rochester, NY 14624
Phone: (585) 328-3210
Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse
240 East Onondaga St.
Syracuse, NY (315) 422-7203
To learn more about the Diocese records contact the Vicar for Parishes Office.
The Family History Library has many Roman Catholic records for Western (filmed at Canisius College, Buffalo) and Northern New York. It has very few Roman Catholic records for the City of New York.
Catholic Church Records Online
Early United States French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954: Found in the Drouin Collection on www.Ancestry.ca.
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.
Society of Friends (Quakers)
New York Yearly Meeting Archives
Haviland Records Room
15 Rutherford Place
New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 777-8866
Many of the records in the archives are on microfilm at the Family History Library. The New York City and Long Island Quaker Records, 1657–1940, transcribed by John Cox, are published in:
- Hinshaw, William Wade. Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy. 6 Vols. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Edwards Brothers, 1936-1950. Volume III covers New York Monthly Meetings. FHL Collection 973 D2he 1969; digital version at Ancestry ($). To locate copies nearest you, use WorldCat.
A useful guide to New York Quaker records and research is:
- Cox, John, Jr. New York City Church Archives, Religious Society of Friends Catalogue. New York, N.Y.: Historical Records Survey, 1938 and is available in the FHL Collection. To locate a copy nearest you, use WorldCat.
A helpful 1828 census was taken:
- Fay, Loren V., editor. Quaker Census of 1828: Members of the New York Yearly Meeting, the Religious Society of Friends of New York, Ontario, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Quebec, at the Time of the Separation of 1828. Rhinebeck, N.Y.: Knshp, 1989 and is available in the FHL Collection. Use this to determine the monthly meeting a person attended. It includes name, age, and family group. To locate a copy nearest you, use WorldCat.
For a history of New York Quakers, see:
- 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 New York.]
- Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.