Church Records & Hair Splitting


13 February 2014

Reseachers use the term "church records" quite loosely to refer to a wide variety of different materials. Yet minute books, vestry books, actes de fabrique, sacramental registers, family books, and certificates of all types—baptism, marriage, and death—offer significantly different materials. Each should be identified precisely for what it is. Then there's that issue of original registers vs. translations, transcriptions, abstracts and other derivatives—the dangers of which we all dealt with on January's Document Day.

Under the "Sample Text Pages" tab here at the website for Evidence Explained, you'll find discussions of several of these different types of church records and how they should be used and cited. Chapter 7 of EE itself offers 61 pages that span a mind-boggling array of ecclesiastical materials in the U.S. and nine other countries internationally. If you haven’t yet, you might take a gander at all those types of church records found in Sweden (EE 7.45). It’s enough to make a Hardshell Baptist deacon commit the sin of covetousness!