Genealogy Resources

Finding NC Baptist Church Records

Small log chapel nestled in trees.

Do you find yourself researching your ancestors in a burned county? (A “burned county” is a county where a significant loss of records has occurred due to courthouse fire(s). ) Unfortunately, this is something the researcher often encounter when researching North Carolina research.

Church records can be a rich source of genealogical information in counties where many local records have been lost.

But…..where do you find these records?

This is the question I have encountered several times in the past year, and thought I would share with you the locations of various denominations’ church records in North Carolina.  While I share with you North Carolina examples, the process of finding the records applies to any state.

Today let’s focus on finding Baptist records.

1. The Individual Church  If you know where your ancestor attended church, check to see if that church is still in existence.  If so, contact the church to see what type of records they may have. (Don’t forget to ask about church directories and church histories unique to that church!)

If your ancestor’s church no longer exist, check with other local Baptist churches in the area and see if the church merged with another. The records may be housed in the “new” church. Historical societies are another place to look for church histories, directories, etc for small local churches no longer in existence.

2. The Baptist Historical Collection The Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina houses this collection of Baptist church records.  The collection contains mostly church minutes, membership lists and financial records of churches.  Typically, the birth, baptism and marriage records were kept my the minister. Other records pertaining to Baptist church life include the Women’s Missionary Union of North Carolina records and searchable issues of The Biblical Recorder .

3. The Ministerial Directory of Baptist Churches in the United States of America, edited by George William Lasher Published in 1899, this book is available on Google Books. Was your ancestor a Baptist minister?

4. The Primitive Baptist Library in Elon, North Carolina houses a variety of records for the primitive Baptist community.

5. The Special Collections of Joyner Library at East Carolina University (Greenville, North Carolina) houses a variety of Baptist church records including some records of individual churches. Type “Baptist” into the search box to start your research.

6. NCpedia provides excellent articles on the history of the Baptists in North Carolina. Learn more about the general history of North Carolina Baptists here and gain insight into your ancestors’ religious life.

Have you used church records in your genealogy research?

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