Church records

SCCGS has made great strides publishing and preserving records of major denominational churches, many translated from German into English, others rescued from obscurity.

Church records are great substitutes for missing vital records, particularly before county-level records were recorded.

  • Read the genealogical value of church records (below).
  • Search surname indexes for your family name among church records published in our books.
  • Find your ancestor’s surname published in Quarterly articles about churches and their records.
  • Use the site search to find Quarterly articles about churches and the records, e.g., keywords st. paul or catholic or methodist. Tap or click Search on the main menu.
  • The Research Guide details on 17 pages the pre-1920 religious records available throughout the county. Read its table of contents on our book page.

Available on our websites

At each link below, a sidebar provides direct links to each of the resources below; the Church home link returns to this page.

Bethel Baptist Church Minutes Index 1809-1909.

Catholic parish records. A finding aid to microfilmed records of 140 parishes in 28 southern Illinois counties.

Belleville’s Methodist church histories with surname index to baptisms, marriage, and death registers, 1840-1998.

St. John United Church of Christ – Smithton Online index to baptisms 1869-1986 and complete surname index.

Genealogical value of church records

  • The baptism, marriage, death, or confirmation is recorded at or very close to the time of the event and written by the officiant who was present at the event. The information then scores as highly reliable and less likely to contain errors.
  • Baptisms often cite a birth date and parental names. With a few exceptions, county-level birth certificates were first recorded in 1878. Prior to that an affidavit called a “proof of birth” could be recorded.
  • Sponsors and witnesses are named. These people are often related to the recipient.
  • Marriages provide parental information for the bridal couple and occasionally provide the age and place of residence, some from other counties or states. It wasn’t until circa 1878 that county marriages named the parents.
  • Death and burial registers often record both of these dates as well as the decedent’s age and spouse.

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