Tracing Immigrants Arrival Church Records

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While church record-keeping practices varied greatly, many denominations (particularly Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman Catholic) kept excellent records. Marriage and death records are the most likely to mention the town where an immigrant was born. Monthly Meeting Records of the Quakers (Society of Friends) in the country of arrival sometimes name the Monthly Meeting in England a new member came from. Early Dutch and German Reformed Church records often refer to overseas origins.

Roman Catholic marriage records, especially French Canadian records, often give brides' and grooms' places of origin. The brides' and grooms' parents are often listed in records of Acadia and Quebec along with the parish they were from. The parents were sometimes residents of a parish in France.

Members of smaller religious bodies, such as the Mennonites and Doukhobors, moved in large groups from specific locations in Europe to new countries. When original church records are not available, encyclopedias and history books about such groups often contain valuable clues on the overseas origins of these people.

The Family History Library has religious records from many parts of the world. They are usually listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under the name of the city where the congregation or parish was located. A few are listed under the name of the state or province.

Some church records must be examined at the parish or the church archives where the records are stored. See the state, provincial, and national portals and research outlines for addresses of major church archives and for more information about church records.