Church Records are many times overlooked in genealogy research. These days, it seems everyone it trying to do genealogy research the fast, quick and easy method of only using the Internet or on-line databases.
Going back to the basics is a good formula for getting around your research brickwalls. Today, I want to discuss the records at the "General Commission on Archives and History" of the United Methodist Church located in Madison, NJ.
Yes, they have an website that provides information, especially a nice on-line catalog of the materials held in their collection at: http://www.gcah.org/. You will still need to do old fashion research, as the on-line information is only a guide to the holdings of the archives.
Today's modern Methodist Church is a mix of over 200 years of splitting and merging of several churches. The Methodist Church Historical Society (MCHS), can help you if one of your ancestors was a member of any of these denominations:Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939)
The MCHS has a website at: http://www.historicalsocietyunitedmethodistchurch.org
One of the most fascinating aspects of the website were the free on-line manuals including: Traveler's Guide to the Heritage Landmarks of the United Methodist Church; Guidelines for Managing Records of a Local Church (a very good guide for any church, no matter what the domination); History of Circuit Riders; Care and Preservation of Photographs; Oral Histories; and many more interesting topics.
The first question you will probably have is: Where are baptismal and membership records?
Local church records, such as baptismal and membership records, are not kept by the General Commission on Archives and History. Local church records are kept at the local church. If a church closes or merges with another church, then the records go to the new church. If a church closes and there is no successor church, the records are usually transferred to a local or regional conference archives.
In Texas, there are seven Methodist Church Archive repositories:
1. Central Texas - Texas Wesleyan University, Eunice & James L. West Library, 1201 Wesleyan St., Fort Worth, TX 76105.
2. New Mexico (West Texas) - Archives New Mexico Conference, United Methodist Church, 2210 Silver Ave., SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106.
3. North Texas - Center for Methodist Studies at Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, P. O. Box 750476, Dallas, TX 75275.
4. Northwest Texas - Archives of Northwest Texas Conference, McMurry Station, P. O. Box 218, Abilene, TX 79697.
5. Southwest Texas - Southwest Texan Conference United Methodist Center, 16400 Huebner Rd., San Antonio, TX 78248.
6. Texas (East Texas & Gulf Coast) - Doornbos Library, Lon Morris College, Jacksonville, TX 75766.
7. Rio Grande - Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275.
For a Directory of Local and Regional Archives throughout the United States, visit: http://www.gcah.org/Conference/umcdirectory.htm.
Like many "urban myths" or computer e-mail hoaxes, genealogy is also full of these types of deceptions. We've all heard them - "The Courthouse Burned" or "You can do you whole family tree on the internet!" - and many others. Cyndi's List as a wonderful webpage at http://www.cyndislist.com/myths.htm to help you debunk many of these tried-and-not-so-true myths. Take the time to read through this list and review some of the articles. They might just help you around a roadblock in your research.
Have you been trying to find the location of a fort in Texas ca. 1861-1865? Well, you're in luck as John Roberts has placed a list of them on-line at: http://gen.1starnet.com/civilwar/camps.htm. The list includes the county where the fort was located, if known. This is a great resource of school projects when you need something at 11 p.m. the night before a project is due!
In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.
Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This webpage was last created on 15 Mar 2005 and was last revised on __________
Copyright © 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604