Advice for Researching Church Records

Baptist Churches

American Baptist Historical Society
1106 South Goodman St.
Rochester, NY 11620

Contributed 14 Dec 1998 by Joyce Mueller

Archives of the American Lutheran Church

Wartburg Theological Seminary
333 Wartburg Place
Dubuque, IA 52001

Wartburg Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 5004
Dubuque, IA 52003-5004

The Archives of the American Lutheran Church in Dubuque was one of the predecessor archives of the current ELCA Archives in Elk Grove Village. The archives in Dubuque is now called the ELCA Region 5 Archives, and collects records from disbanded congregations in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, among other things.

Contributed 14 Dec 1998 by Joyce Mueller

Concordia Historical Institute

Department of Archives and History of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

8765 W. Higgins Rd.
Chicago, IL 60631
Ofc: (847) 690-9410
Fax: (847) 690-9502

ELCA Archives
321 Bonnie Lane
Elk Grove, IL
(773) 380-2828

Contributed March 2001 by Joel Thoreson, Asst. Archivist, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Update submitted by Kathie Groll. Updated submitted Oct 2007 by Bart Hansen.

Newberry Library

The Newberry Library has microfilm of the early records of several of the older German Lutheran congregations in Chicago. They are: Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Luke, First Bethlehem Lutheran, First Immanuel Lutheran, First St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran, St. James Evangelical Lutheran, and St. Mathews Evangelical Lutheran.

Contributed Mar 2001 by Joel Thoreson, Asst. Archivist, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ has several predecessor bodies, including the German Evangelical Synod of North America, which is often confused with Lutheran synods. Their archives for German Evangelical congregations is located at: The Eden Seminary Archives, 475 Lockwood Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119-3192. Visit the online directory of current UCC congregations website for more info.

Also visit First St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chicago, IL

Contributed Mar 2001 by Joel Thoreson, Asst. Archivist, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Central Illinois Conference Historical Society, 1211 North Park St, Bloomington, IL 61701
Garrett Theological Seminary, 2121 S Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60201

Contributed 14 Dec 1998 by Joyce Mueller

Roman Catholic

Archdiocese of Chicago’s Archives & Records Center
The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
Archives & Record Center
711 W. Monroe
Chicago, IL 60661

Contributed 01 May 1998 by Kathie Groll.

Archives of the Archdiocese of Chicago

St. Mary of the Lake Seminary
Mundelein, IL 60060

The Archdiocese Archives DOES NOT have ONLY records from inactive parishes. I am aware of Sacramental records they have for 3 very active north suburban parishes.

The problem at the Archdiocese Archives is that the archivist (Sylvia @ ext.722) does not seem to know what records are there, and if you are calling long distance (I have never reached her by my phone call) despite what her voice mail message says about calling you right back, it was always over a week before she would return a call, if ever.

Sylvia will send you a form which requires you to provide virtually ALL the info that is on the Sacramental record that you want. For $20, she will research the records and send you a certified copy.

Julia (@ ext. 728) does seem knowledgeable. She has, while I waited on the phone, checked for me on what Sacramental records and dates for particular parishes, that are in their archives. Julia can make an appointment (very limited availability) for you to come in and research the Sacramental records they have.

My suggestions:
1) I would always first call the parish, if still active.
2) I would go to a FHC and check what parish records are available there.
3) As a last resort, try the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Contributed 14 Dec 1998 by Joyce Mueller. Comments by Ron Flynn from a COOK-CO-IL-L email he posted on Saturday, February 20, 1999.