Skip to Main Content

African American Family History Research: Church Records

About Church Records

Church records can provide information about named individuals who were baptized, married, or buried by a congregation. Membership lists are available for some congregations. City directories can be useful in identifying possible churches. Always check with the church itself—they probably still have their own records.

Books on Churches

Black Churches in Minneapolis, by Willa L. Grant Battle. 
A masters degree thesis.
MNHS call number: BR 563 .N4 B38 1979

Communities and Congregations: The Black Churches in St. Paul, 1860-1900, by Jon Harold Butler.
A masters degree thesis.
MNHS call number: BR 563 .N4 B8

African Methodist Episcopal Churches

Saint James A.M.E. Church (St. Paul)

Miscellaneous Church Records, 1943-1967 
One folder of programs, bulletins, and press clippings.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P198). 

Miscellaneous Property Records, 1910-1920.
Papers of this Minneapolis church, organized in 1863, and also known as the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (St . James African Methodist Episcopal Church).
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

The Helper (Periodical)
Official organ of St. James A.M.E. church. Begins in 1916.
MHS call number: Serial 1073

Saint Mark A.M.E. Church (Duluth)

Parish Records, 1893-1957

Trustees’ and stewards’ minutes and accounts (mainly 1893-1914), membership rolls (1907-1914), and Sunday school records (1938-1947).
MNHS call number:  See the finding aid in the library (Microfilm M277). 

Saint Peter’s A.M.E. Church (Minneapolis)

1991 Directory of St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church.
MNHS call number: BX 8481.M5 S261 1991

70th Anniversary Souvenir Program, October 24, 1952.
MNHS call number: BX 8481 .M5 S267 1952

Baptist Churches

Bethesda Baptist Church (Minneapolis)

History of the Church Submitted for a Music History Class

MNHS call number: ML 3160 .F87 1980

John Harold Younge Papers 
The papers provide biographical data on Reverend John H. Younge, pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church from 1957-1991, and historical information on the church, the oldest African-American Baptist congregation in Minneapolis.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1897). 

Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (Minneapolis)

10th Anniversary Booklet, 1992-2002

MNHS call number: BX 6480 .M5 F443 2002

Membership Directory, May 2004 
MNHS call number: BX 6480 .M5 F4415 2004

First Baptist Church (St. Paul)

Church Records, 1849-1999  
Records of the first Baptist church organized in Minnesota, including some records useful for genealogy, such as membership records and records of the women’s societies and Sunday school.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Mount Olivet Baptist Church (St. Paul)

Church Records, 1922-1998 
Minutes, financial records, clippings, membership information, weekly bulletins, newsletters, history, photographs, and subject files of this African American church located in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Pilgrim Baptist Church (St. Paul)

100th Anniversary Booklet, 1863-1963
MNHS call number:  BX 6480 .S2 P6

125th Anniversary Booklet, 1863-1988.
MNHS call number:  BX 6480 .S2 P664 1988

A Book of Favorite Recipes, Compiled by the Usher Board of Pilgrim Baptist Church.
MNHS call number:  TX 715 .B6667 1959

Ladies Aid Society Records, 1910-ca. 1977  
Records of the Ladies Aid society from a Baptist church established in 1866 to serve the Black community of St. Paul. Included are minutes, attendance and dues records, and annual financial data (1910-1921); a historical sketch of the church (ca.1977); thank-you cards sent to the society by parishioners (1918-1920); a copy of The Informer, Pilgrim’s weekly newsletter (1922).
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1352). 

Zion Baptist Church (Minneapolis)

Anniversary Booklet, 1989.

MNHS call number: BX 6480 .M5 Z569 1989

Catholic Churches

Catholic Negro Bishops: A Brief Survey of the Present and the Past, by Carlos A. Lewis.
Bay Saint Louis, Miss. : Divine Word Publications, 1958.
MNHS call number: BX 4666 .L4

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Parish Questionnaires  

The questionnaires, sent out to each parish in the Archdiocese in 1948, contain information about persons, events, and dates significant to parish history; inventories of parish records; buildings, cemeteries, parish organizations, and parochial school programs; and the ethnic composition and geographical origins of parish members.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Microfilm M260). 

Ascension School (Minneapolis)

Dorwatha Helen Woods Papers
This collections includes genealogical information, correspondence, speeches, minutes, newsletters, and photographs detailing Wood’s family life and activities as principal of Ascension School, the largest multi-racial Roman Catholic grade school (K-8) in Minneapolis. Much of the collection relates to Ascension School, including a faculty handbook and school and classroom newsletters (1987-1991), which contain detailed information on many aspects of school life.  A large group of greeting cards and thank-you notes included in the personal papers include many from students, school staff, and parents, as well as friends and family members.  A folder of photographs (undated and 1987-1991) illustrates various activities of the school.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

William J. Gardner Photograph Collection, ca. 1910-1956  
Views of William and Ida Gardner, their family and friends, including St. Peter Claver’s Glee Club.
MNHS call number: Sound and Visual Collection I.108

**Many records for the Catholic community in Minneapolis and St. Paul are held by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  

Episcopal Churches

Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church (Saint Paul)

Dedication Booklet
, December 18, 1955  
MNHS call number:  BX 5980 .S2 S293

Records, 1900-1995
Records of a predominantly African American church (located in the Selby-Dale area) including vestry minutes and financial records, rectors’ correspondence, weekly church bulletins, and subject files dating mainly from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s. Also included are membership-related records such as marriage certificates and related documents, letters of transfer, directories, and rosters.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Lutheran Churches

Lutheran Church of the Redeemer (Saint Paul)

Parish Records, 1890-1980

Records of a church which began as an English-language church for German immigrants and their descendants but in later years served all, including African Americans. Included are church registers (1890-1976); minute books (1896-1969); financial records (1899-1975); minute and roll call books of the Ladies Aid Society and the Women’s Guild (1902-1980); the Redeemer Record, the church magazine (1905-1978).
MNHS call number:  See the finding aid in the library (Microfilm M397). 

Search MNHS Resources

MNHS Reference Staff

reading room bookshelves


Gale Family Library
Minnesota Historical Society Library

Located on the Second Floor of the Minnesota History Center
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Library Hours:
Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 4pm
Sunday to Wednesday: Closed

More Information on Visiting the Library


Contact Us:


Email Us

Visit our Main Website

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Hours and More InformationEmail us