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Massachusetts Church Records

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Massachusetts Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Massachusetts Background
Local Research Resources
The FamilySearch moderator for Massachusetts is Lee Drew.
For detailed information about Massachusetts church research,
see the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide page.

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Before 1900 the major religious groups in Massachusetts were:

The Congregational Church was the predominant church until the end of the 18th century. Many church records were published with the town vital records.

Perry Miller's classic book The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (New York: Macmillan, 1939), provoked a great deal of interest in the religious origins of the Massachusetts colony.

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).

Dunham-Wilcox-Trott-Kirk indexes church, cemetery, probate and other early New England, New York and New Jersey records with links to abstracts of the records.

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:

Many denominations have collected their records into central repositories. You can write to the following addresses to learn where their records are located:

Baptist[edit | edit source]

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. FHL book 974.4 K2bj

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)[edit | edit source]

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

Early church records, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for Massachusetts Wards and Branches can be found on film and are located at the 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 and FHL fiche 6031507. These volumes contain the film numbers for many (but not all) membership and temple record films.

Congregational[edit | edit source]

The Congregational Library
14 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 523–0470
Fax: (617) 523–0491

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, Mass.: Tickner, 1888. FHL film 1465570

Episcopal[edit | edit source]

The Diocesan Library and Archives
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
138 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: (617) 482–5800; (800) 696-6079
Fax: (617) 482–8431

For histories of the Episcopal Church see:

  • Duffy, Mark J., ed. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts 1784-1984. [Boston, Mass.]: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 1984. FHL book 974.4 K2e
  • Tyng, Dudley. Massachusetts Episcopalians, 1607-1957. [Boston, Massachusetts]: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, [1960]. FHL book 974.4 K2t

Society of Friends (Quakers)[edit | edit source]

Rhode Island Historical Society
121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906
Phone: (401) 273–8107
Fax: (401) 751–7930

Informative history of Massachusetts Quakers include:

  • 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 book 973 F2bj v. 1 [Volume 1 includes New England.]
  • Hallowell, Richard P. The Quaker Invasion of Massachusetts. Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1883. FHL book 974.4 K2h; digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books. Illustrates the persecution the Quakers received from colonial authorities. Has examples of the strength and conviction of the Quakers' religious beliefs.

Jewish[edit | edit source]

American Jewish Historical Society
160 Herrick Road
Newton Centre, MA 02459
Phone: (617) 559-8880
Fax: (617) 559-8881

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia
The Krauth Memorial Library
7301 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119-1794
Phone: (215) 248-6383
Fax: (215) 248-6327

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Boston University School of Theology Library
745 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: (617) 353–3034
Fax: (617) 358–0699

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: (215) 627–1852
Fax: (215) 627–0509

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

Archdiocese of Boston
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184-3839
Phone: (617) 254-0100

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk

Diocese of Fall River Archives
362 Highland Avenue
P.O. Box 2577
Fall River, MA 02722
Phone: (508) 675-1311

The diocese includes the counties of: Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes and Nantucket

Diocese of Springfield
65 Elliott St.
P.O. Box 1730
Springfield, MA 01102
Phone: (413) 732-3175

The diocese includes the counties of: Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire

Diocese of Worcester
49 Elm Street
Worcester, MA 01609
Phone: (508) 791-7171

The diocese includes the county of: Worcester

The Drouin Collection

Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954 ($) (Ancestry). 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. It is the U.S. part of the U.S. and French-Canadian Drouin Collection. For more details see "The Drouin Collection: Six Databases"

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.

Unitarian/Universalist[edit | edit source]

Andover-Harvard Theological Library
Harvard Divinity School
45 Francis Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: (617) 495–5788
Fax: (617) 496–4111