How to Find Your Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide, by Sunny Jane Morton and Harold A. Henderson has been one of our best-selling books since its appearance in 2019. At least three factors account for this development: The Morton and Henderson book is the first one to cover the major religious denominations having a presence in the U.S. prior to 1900. Church records are a vastly underused and/or misunderstood source of vital information about our families, in part because they are hard to track down. The authors are distinguished genealogists in their own right, and they ran their manuscript past denominational scholars prior to publication.
A fourth factor that contributed to the book’s, likely, word-of-mouth popularity is the range of information that may be found in church records. When one considers that many denominations kept records on a regular basis even before local governments did so, it’s easier to appreciate their potential importance to the researcher. In these records, you may find ancestors’ births, maiden or married names, marriage details, deaths, family relationships, other residences, and possibly immigrants’ birthplaces abroad.
To further illustrate how genealogists can use church records to change course and reach their destination–after having come to an apparent dead end in their research—please listen to the following presentation by co-author Sunny Jane Morton as she describes three instances when church records came to the rescue.