Alabama Church History

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First Presbyterian Birmingham


Alabama Churches General Information[edit | edit source]

Church records and the information they provide vary greatly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age; dates of baptism, christening or birth; marriage information, such as the bride’s maiden name and the names of both sets of parents; death or burial date; admissions; and removals. Records may include names of other relatives who were witnesses or members of the congregation. The members of some churches were predominately of one nationality or ethnic group. Church records are important for Alabama family research because civil authorities in Alabama did not begin registering vital statistics until after 1908.

Roman Catholic church records for Mobile date from about 1700. In the 1800s, the largest religious groups in Alabama were the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches.[1][2]

To find information about churches up to 1870, such as when the churches were founded, names of ministers and early members, and associated cemeteries, see:

FamilySearch Library Online Church Histories[edit | edit source]

Many of the church histories for Alabama at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah have been digitized. See United States, Alabama - Church history.

Baptist[edit | edit source]

First Baptist Church, Montgomery

Special Collection, Samford University Library
Samford University
Harwell Goodwin Davis Library
800 Lakeshore Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35229-0001
Phone: (205)726-2748

See Alabama Archives and Libraries. The Samford University Library Website has an inventory of their records and contains many different Alabama denominations in their collection besides Baptist. Also included are microfilmed records of the American Missionary Association, a interdenominational missionary society devoted to abolitionist principles beginning in 1846.

For histories of the Baptist Church, see:

  • Holcombe, Hosea. A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Alabama. 1840. Reprint, Bessemer, Alabama: West Jefferson County Historical Society, 1974. FHL book 976.1 K21h This history of the Baptist Church to 1840 is indexed.
  • Flynt, F. Wayne. Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998.
  • Bledsoe, W.C. History of the Liberty (East) Baptist Association of Alabama. Atlanta, Ga.: Constitution Job Office, 1886. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.
  • Riley, B.F. A Memorial History of the Baptists of Alabama: Being an Account of the Struggles and Achievements of the Denomination from 1808 to 1923. Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1923. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.

An 1899 directory of Baptist ministers lists biographical details about many ministers born or serving in the state: [3]

  • The Ministerial Directory of the Baptist Churches in the United States of America. Oxford, Ohio: Ministerial Directory Co., 1899. Digital version at Google Books.

Episcopal[edit | edit source]

Episcopal Statistics in Alabama 1830 to 1898[4]
Baptisms Confirmations Marriages Burials Deacons Made Priests Ordained Churches Consecrated
24,921
15,402
5,574
11,184
75
65
30
St. Mary's on the Highland Episcopal Church

Episcopal Statistics in Alabama 1830 to 1898[5]

A list of the Episcopal congregations in Alabama before 1939 is:

  • Inventory of the Church Archives of Alabama: Protestant Episcopal Church. Birmingham, Alabama: Alabama Historical Records Survey Project, 1939. FHL book 976.1 K2h; film 897366 item 3; digital version at FamilySearch Books. This gives the location of each church with a brief history and describes the types and years of records that existed for each congregation in 1939.

For a history, consult:

  • Whitaker, Walter C. History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Alabama 1763-1891. Birmingham, Ala.: Roberts & Son, 1898. Digital version at FamilySearch Books - free.

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Fort Deposit, Alabama United Methodist Church

Houghton Memorial Library
Huntingdon College
1500 E. Fairview Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36106-2148
Phone: (334) 833-4421
Fax: (334) 263-4465
E-mail: edidwell@huntingdon.edu

Charles Andrew Rush Library
Birmingham-Southern College
900 Arkadelphia Road
P.O. Box 549020
Birmingham, AL 35254-9990
Phone: (205) 226-4740
Fax: (205) 226-4743

Histories of the Methodist Church in Alabama include:

  • Lazenby, Marion Elias, History of Methodism in Alabama and West Florida. N.p., 1960. FHL book 976.1 K2L. This book includes a list of deceased ministers and a name and subject index.
  • West, Anson. A History of Methodism in Alabama. Nashville, Tenn.: Pub. House, Methodist Episcopal Church South, 1893. Digital version at FamilySearch Books - free.

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

First Presbyterian Huntsville

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

Early Presbyteries (with years organized): Alabama Presbytery (1821), Elyton Presbytery (1831), Birmingham Presbytery (1896), Talladega Presbytery (1836), Springville Presbytery (1880), Robert Donnell Presbytery (1890), The New Hope Presbytery(1838), and The McGready Presbytery (1840/1).[6]

Histories of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church include:

  • Hall, James H.B. "The History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Alabama Prior to 1826," Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 4 (1904):365-394. Digital version at Internet Archive - free. Identifies minute books available for early Presbyteries. The early Presbyteries did not keep records of baptisms, marriages, and burials.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972). FHL book 973 K2ah.
  2. Association of Religion Data Archives)
  3. Davis points out that not all ministers participated, see: Robert S. Davis, "Some Baptist Ministers of South Carolina at the Turn of the Century," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Winter 2004):13-22. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 32
  4. R.H. Cobbs and W.C. Whitaker, "Statistics of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama," Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 2 (1898):83-89. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.
  5. R.H. Cobbs and W.C. Whitaker, "Statistics of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama," Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 2 (1898):83-89. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.
  6. James H.B. Hall, "The History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Alabama Prior to 1826," Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Vol. 4 (1904):392-394. Digital version at Internet Archive - free.