Maryland Church Records

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

This article is part of
the Maryland Family History Research series.
History of Maryland
Maryland Vital Records
Census Records for Maryland
Background Sources for Maryland
Maryland Maps
Maryland Land Records
Maryland Probate Records
Maryland Court Records
Maryland Tax Records
Maryland Cemetery Records
Maryland Church Records
Maryland Military Records
Maryland Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Maryland Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Maryland Immigration
Maryland Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Maryland
Maryland County Resources
Map of Maryland


A search for church records should begin with Edna A. Kanely, comp. and ed., Directory of Maryland Church Records (Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1987), arranged by county and giving a range of dates of available records for over 2,600 churches with mailing addresses. Somewhat dated but still quite useful is the list in Passano (see Background Sources for Maryland). Also helpful are Percy G. Skirven, First Parishes of the Province of Maryland (Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Co., 1923), and Abdel Ross Wentz, History of the Maryland Synod (Harrisburg, Pa.: n.p., 1920).

The largest collection of church records is at the Maryland Historical Society, with a consolidated index, and many are at the Maryland State Archives, which has various original and microfilmed records, many with indexes. Some church records have been published in the Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin or in individual books, such as those for St. Paul’s in Baltimore and for many German churches in the western counties.

Although Catholicism is very important to the history of Maryland, the disfranchisement of Catholics after the establishment of the Anglican Church in 1692 largely contributed to the lack of record keeping prior to the Revolutionary War. One source for Saint Mary’s County in the 1700s, however, is Timothy J. O’Rourke’s Catholic Families of Southern Maryland (1980; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985). Records of the German churches and the Society of Friends are very good. The latter were early settlers of Maryland, along with Anglicans and Catholics. Phebe R. Jacobsen’s Quaker Records in Maryland (Annapolis, Md.: Hall of Records Commission, 1966) is an excellent guide to the original and microfilmed Friends’ records at the Maryland State Archives. Some Quaker records were published in Kenneth Carroll, Quakerism on the Eastern Shore (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1970), and other records are at the Maryland Historical Society, the state archives, and the Friends Historical Library in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

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