Recently, because of an assignment in a course I was taking (Religious Records Part 2), I needed to create a listing of repositories containing religious records that resided within a 60-mile radius of my location.
General Research Resources
By far, my favorite and most visited repository is the Ohio Historical Society Library and Archives. Among other records, they have a wonderful collection of records related to religious research: photograph collections, church records, newspapers, periodicals, and more. Don’t forget to check your newspapers for mention of your relatives in relation to a congregation. I’ve stumbled upon short meeting minutes and Sunday school reports from vintage newspapers that placed my family within a congregation previously unidentified.
The Local History and Genealogy Department at the Columbus Metropolitan Library (Main branch) also contains related record sets. In the stacks sit a variety of church member listings, cemetery indexes, and newspaper transcriptions. Free research hours seven days a week make this an easy location to dive into family history. And, they have an excellent staff who offers assistance to patrons researching on site.
Looking for family Bibles? The Ohio Genealogical Society Library has a wonderful collection of family Bible records. They also hold religious community indexes. Truthfully, I haven’t had time to explore all it holds. (This repository isn’t something that you learn each piece in one visit!) Members can research for free, and non-members can visit for $5 per day.
Don’t forget about your local Family History Center! Various records are available on microfilm for a variety of locations. Hours and assistance varies by location, so be sure to locate yours. I’m lucky to have not one but three locations that are available within a 20-mile range of my home. Tip: Search for your record set using the “Catalog” search option at the top of the FamilySearch.org home page. Using the Place-names search, you can discover what church records exist for your chosen location. It’s amazing what you can find on microfilm in their catalog.
Catalog > Place-names > Ohio > 148 records!
Catholic, Mennonite, and Quaker Records
Are you looking for Catholic records? The Catholic Record Society of the Diocese of Columbus gives access to parish records such as records for baptism, cemetery, marriage, as well as family histories. With this group you’re going to find online records access only. On-site research is not permitted but you can reach out to their staff. The good news is that they are attempting to list all documents and records online so hopefully the collection will grown.
Several repositories are just slightly outside a 60-mile radius of my home base but are worth noting if you are interested in Ohio religious records. I haven’t had the opportunity to research at these locations just yet, but hope to soon. I suspect (or wish!) that the Wilmington location will help me with my personal Quaker line.
Bluffton University is home to the Mennonite Historical Collection. This collection includes family histories with supporting texts, periodicals, local newspapers, and other books related to Mennonite heritage and ancestry in the state. (The bonus of the trip is that the campus is absolutely beautiful, especially in the fall!) This collection is accessible by appointment only, so check out the website and make arrangements before heading in for a day of research.
Wilmington College is the place to visit if you have Quaker ancestors. The collection of Quaker records held by the college’s Special Collections Department include meeting records, periodicals, photograph collections, manuscripts, record abstracts, and genealogy collections. There are other smaller repositories and libraries near this area that could also help expand your family history knowledge.
Do you have any resources for Ohio religious records research that you’d add to the list?
I’d love to hear about them! They might just help me with my own research or could unlock a brick wall for someone else.
© 2012, Stephanie Pitcher Fishman. All rights reserved.