Alaska Church Records
This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Alaska is home to many different faiths. Because of the lack of early Alaska vital records, church records should not be overlooked as a major record source. Before the twentieth century the Russian Orthodox Church was the largest religious organization in Alaska. Other large denominations include the Episcopal, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
Many church registers have been collected by the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics and used to compile delayed birth certificates. Once the certificate has been generated, the use of the information is stipulated by the Bureau of Vital Statistics just like any other birth record.
The Russian Orthodox Church, Diocese of Alaska, gave their record archives to the Library of Congress in 1927. These valuable records were in turn translated from Russian, indexed, and microfilmed. This vast collection of 401 rolls of microfilm is inventoried in the volume entitled Inventory: The Alaskan Russian Church Archives (Washington, D.C.: Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, 1984). Microfilm copies of the Russian Orthodox Church Archives are available at the National Archives—Pacific Alaska Region; the University of Alaska, Rasmuson Library, Fairbanks, Alaska; the Alaska State Library, Juneau; University of Alaska Library in Anchorage; and the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. An index of early Russian Orthodox parish registers is found in John Dorosh, Index to Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths in the Archives of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in Alaska, 1816–1886 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1973).
The Roman Catholic Church officially arrived in the Alaska territory in 1902 through efforts of the Sisters of Providence. They were responsible for establishing hospitals in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Nome. The Sisters of Providence Archives is located at 4800 37th Ave. S.W., Seattle, WA 90126-2793 <www.providence.org/home/default.htm>. This archives houses the hospital records of Providence Hospital of Anchorage (1938-present); St. Joseph Hospital in Fairbanks (1910–68), and Holy Cross Hospital in Nome (1902–14).
There is no central repository for Alaskan Catholic parish registers and most are still in the custody of the local parish. There are three dioceses in Alaska: Diocese of Juneau, 415 Sixth St., Ste. 300, Juneau, AK 99801-1091 <www.dioceseofjuneau.org>; Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks, 1316 Peger Rd., Fairbanks, AK 99709-5199 <www.cbna.info> and the Archdiocese of Anchorage, 225 Cordova St., Anchorage, AK 99501 <www.archdioceseofanchorage.org>.
Moravian Church records have mainly been deposited in Bethel, Alaska. Contact Alaska Moravian Church, P.O. Box 312, Bethel, AK 99559 <www.alaskamoravian.org>. The records for the Moravian Church at Aleknagik and Dillingham are at the Dillingham Moravian Church, P.O. Box 203, Dillingham, AK 99576. Recent church records are held by the pastor in charge of a district within the church.
Presbyterian ministers arrived in Alaska during the 1870s. Mission work was conducted at Fort Wrangel and Sitka. The Presbyterian Church records through 1965 are deposited at the Presbyterian Historical Society, 425 Lombard St., Philadelphia, PA 19147 <www.history.pcusa.org>.
The Alaska Friends Church is largely Native American. Alaska Quaker records are included in the “Alaska Quaker Documents Collection” on file at the Alaska and Polar Regions Collection at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. See also:
Roberts, Arthur O. Tomorrow Is Growing Old: Stories of the Quakers in Alaska. Newberg, Ore.: The Barclay Press, 1978.