Delaware Church Records

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This entry was originally written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG, in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Delaware Family History Research series.
History of Delaware
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Delaware Cemetery Records
Delaware Church Records
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While somewhat dated, the Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations in Delaware, compiled and published by the Public Archives Commission of the State of Delaware (Dover, Del., 1942), is good for determining what records existed at that time. It is supplemented by Elizabeth Waterston’s Churches in Delaware During the Revolution (Wilmington: Historical Society of Delaware, 1925), which also lists available records. Frank P. Zebley’s The Churches of Delaware (Wilmington: the author, 1947) identifies almost 900 existing and defunct churches in the state, although it does not discuss their records.

The records of one of the oldest and most noted churches were published as The Records of Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church, Wilmington, Del., From 1697 to 1773, with Abstracts of English Records from 1773–1810, with a supplemental Catalogue and Errata, translated and edited by Horace Burr, in Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware, 9 and 9-A (Wilmington: Historical Society of Delaware, 1890, 1919). Because of the erroneous translations, this work should be used with material by Courtland B. Springer and Ruth L. Springer in Delaware History, vols. 5 and 6 (1954, 1957); the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal; and in manuscript at the Historical Society of Delaware. Other major publications of church records include Records of the Welsh Tract Baptist Meeting, Pencader Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, 1701 to 1828, Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware, 42 (Wilmington: Historical Society of Delaware, 1904); Friends in Wilmington, 1738–1938 (n.p., n.d.), which includes marriages, burials, and genealogies; and Christopher M. Agnew, ed., God with Us: A Continuing Presence (New Castle, Del.: Immanuel Church, 1986), with an alphabetical list of baptisms, marriages, and burials (1714–1985) of New Castle’s historic Immanuel Church (Episcopal). Some Delaware church records have been printed in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal, Delaware History, in other publications, and in separate volumes. The latter include F. Edward Wright’s Vital Records of Kent and Sussex Counties, Delaware, 1686–1800 (Silver Spring, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1986), a collection of birth, marriage, and death records from church and Quaker records, and his two-volume Early Church Records of New Castle County, covering 1701–1800 (Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1994). Original and WPA-transcribed records of many Delaware churches are at the Delaware Public Archives, and some are at the Historical Society of Delaware. At the historical society, the Kelso Collection contains a large amount of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Methodist records, mostly from rural circuits and charges, for Delaware and Maryland’s eastern shore. An index to this valuable collection is in progress. Some Quaker records are at the Delaware Public Archives and the Historical Society of Delaware; others are at the Friends Historical Library in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Parish registers of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington (which includes Delaware and the nine eastern shore counties of Maryland) have been microfilmed through 1960, with baptisms available through 1930 only, and are available at the archives and historical societies in both states. Every-name extracts from many pre-1900 registers are online at