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Church and Synagogue Records for Genealogy

LC Catalog Search Strategies

The Library of Congress has a rich collection of materials relating to churches and synagogues in the U.S., which can help you verify the vital facts about your family members and reveal new information about their lives and times. The search strategies below will help you to perform effective searches in the Library of Congress Online Catalog using subjects headings along with geographical locations and material types.

Works in the Library of Congress on baptismal records may be identified by browsing the Library of Congress Online Catalog using appropriate Library of Congress subject headings, including the following:

  • Baptismal records [state] [city]
  • Registers of births, etc. [state] [city]
  • Keyword searches for these terms will also work.

Examples of the subject heading format:

Examples of what you may find:

  • St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Baltimore, Maryland : baptisms, 1825-1871 / Edward Patrick Arthur. Lewes, Del. : Colonial Roots, c2011
  • Records of the First and Second Churches of Berwick, Maine : Maine Genealogical Society special publication no. 33 / edited by Joseph Crook Anderson II. Rockport, Me. : Picton Press, c1999.

Works in the Library of Congress on marriage records may be identified by browsing the Library of Congress Online Catalog using appropriate Library of Congress subject headings, including the following:

  • Marriage records [state] [city]  AND Church records and registers
  • Marriage records AND Jews

Examples of the subject heading format:

Examples of what you may find:

  • Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam and New York : marriages from 11 December, 1639, to 26 August, 1801 / [edited, with an introduction] by Samuel S. Purple.Bowie, MD. : Heritage Books, 1997.
  • Great synagogue marriage records : 1791-1850 / Angela Shire.Crediton, Devon : Frank J. Gent, 2001.
     

Works in the Library of Congress on cemetery records may be identified by browsing the Library of Congress Online Catalog using appropriate Library of Congress subject headings, including the following:

  • Cemeteries [state] [county]
  • Inscriptions [state] [county]
  • Epitaphs [state] [county]
  • [specific cemetery name] [city] [state]
  • Jewish cemeteries [state] [county]
  • [city] [country] Memorial books
  • Keyword searches for these terms will also work.

Examples of the subject heading format:

Examples of what you may find:

  • Cemetery records of Smith County, Tennessee / [by Louise Gillespie Lynch]. Franklin, Tenn. : L.G. Lynch, 1978.
  • Texas Jewish burials, alphabetically by name / compiled and edited by Gertrude M. and Donald L. Teter. Austin, Tex.] : Texas Jewish Historical Society, 1997.
  • Burial records, 1717-1962, of the Eastern Cemetery, Portland, Maine / compiled by William B. Jordan, Jr. Bowie, Md. : Heritage Books, 1987.
  • Memorial book of Goniadz Poland : translation of Sefer Yizkor Goniadz / edited by Moshe Shlomo Ben-Meir (I. Treshansky). New York, N.Y. : JewishGen Inc., [2016]

Works in the Library of Congress relating to the records of a specific church or synagogue may be identified by browsing the Library of Congress Online Catalog using appropriate Library of Congress subject headings, including the following:

  • [church name] [city][state] Registers
  • [church name] [city][state] Records and Correspondence
  • [synagogue name] [city] [state] History.  
  • Keyword searches for these terms will also work.

Examples of the subject heading format:

Examples of what you may find:

  • Sinai Temple : a centennial history, 1906-2006 / written by Florie Brizel. Los Angeles, Calif. : Sinai Temple, c2007.t.
  • Saint Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church, Baltimore, Maryland, 1912-2012 : a centennial history / editor-in-chief Andrij W. Chornodolsky.Baltimore : Published by the Centennial Committee, [2012]

Works in the Library of Congress relating to the records of churches or synagogues in a particular geographic region may be identified by browsing the Library of Congress Online Catalog using appropriate Library of Congress subject headings, including the following:

  • church records and registers [state] [county]
  • synagogues [state] [county]
  • Jews [state] [county].
  • Keyword searches for these terms will also work. You may also add the terms genealogy, history or sources.

Examples of the subject heading format:

Examples of what you may find:

  • New Mexico marriages, church in San Juan Pueblo, 1726-1776, 1831-1855 and church in Santa Clara Pueblo, 1726-1832 / extracted by Eloise Arellanes ; compiled by Margaret Leonard Windham and Evelyn Lujan Baca. Albuquerque, N.M. : New Mexico Genealogical Society, c1998.
  • Inventory of the church and synagogue archives of Tennessee. Jewish congregations. Prepared by the Tennessee Historical records survey, Division of community service programs, Work projects administration. Sponsored by Tennessee State planning commission. Nashville, Tenn., The Tennessee Historical records survey, 1941.

Geographic Searching Tip

  • The Library of Congress may not have church records for every area.  You can do a search for a geographic area [state] [county] [city] as a "subject containing" browse search.  Then pick out the subject headings that most interest you, including church records.

Works in the Library of Congress relating to church or synagogue clergy may be identified by browsing the Library of Congress Online Catalog using appropriate Library of Congress subject headings, including the following:

  • [denomination] Clergy Biography
  • [denomination] Biography
  • Deacons [denomination] Directories
  • Rabbis Directories
  • Keyword searches for these terms will also work.

Examples of the subject heading format:

Examples of what you may find:

  • Biographical directory of clergymen of The American Lutheran Church. Arnold R. Mickelson, editor; Robert C. Wiederaenders, associate editor.Minneapolis, Augsburg Pub. House, 1972.
  • Rabbinic alumni directory. Cincinnati, OH : Rabbinic Alumni Association : Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Periodicals may include denominational journals or annual reports, church yearbooks and missionary journals, all of which may contain names and events of help to the genealogist. Works in the Library of Congress relating to the Christian or Jewish periodicals may be identified by browsing the Library of Congress Online Catalog using appropriate Library of Congress subject headings, including the following:

  • [denomination] Periodicals
  • [denomination] [state] [city] Periodicals
  • [denomination] [country] Periodicals
  • [church/synagogue name] [state] [city] Periodicals
  • Jews [state] [city] Periodicals
  • Keyword searches for these terms will also work.

Examples of the subject heading format:

Examples of what you may find:

  • Bulletin / Congregation Shearith Israel in the City of New York, the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue. New York : Congregation Shearith Israel
  • Church times, a weekly journal of religious news.Utica, N.Y., Presbyterian colleagues, inc.] 1940-

WorldCat - or looking beyond the Library of Congress collections