24 January 2022

Pure Michigan Genealogy: Churches and Cemeteries

Pure Michigan Genealogy

There is no one source or repository for church records in Michigan.  Most church records are held by the church, their archives, or sometimes the parish minister or priest.  Occasionally, one will find church records in their local library, or a historical or genealogical society.  Once I found a list of the founders of a church in a local history, so don't forget to check those out.  Local histories are a good resource to find what churches were established at that time.  Check Google Books or Hathi Trust for local histories.  If you are really lucky you may find a published church history of your ancestors' church.

A Roman Catholic mission was in Sault Saint Marie in 1668.  St. Anne's was founded in 1701 in Detroit.  The first Protestant Church was Moravian, in Mount Clemens.  They were worshiping during the Revolutionary War. Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Lutherans soon followed.  By 1865, the Methodist Church was the largest Protestant denomination in Michigan.

Church Record Sources
  1. Michigan Historical Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor-a large collection of religious records are held here.
  2. Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, Detroit-many early Detroit church records.  Additionally, Catholic Mission Records, 1720-1772 are here.  A map of Detroit Catholic churches is available as well.
  3. Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan has vertical files finding aids for 48 Michigan religions.
  4. WPA's Michigan Historical Records Survey Inventory of the Church Archives of Michigan-a series of records published and available at Family Search and Bentley Historical Library.
  5. Western Michigan Genealogical Society Church Records Collection at the Grand Rapids Public Library.
  6. Family Search Michigan Church Records Wiki is a resource too.
Additional denomination specific resources are available for church record research:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 

Congregational/United Church of Christ
Disciples of Christ
Seventh Day Adventist

Cemetery Resources
Pure Michigan Genealogy is a series of posts on researching in Michigan.  Churches and Cemeteries is part four in the series.  Other posts in this series include:

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