Michigan Church Records

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This entry was originally written by Arleigh P. Helfer, Jr. and Carol L. Maki for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

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


The earliest religious denomination in Michigan was the Roman Catholic Church, established through a mission in 1668 at Sault Ste. Marie. Ste. Anne’s, in Detroit, has assembled in Mount Clemens in the late 1770s. They were followed by the parish records beginning in 1703. The Moravians, the first Protestant group in Michigan, assembled in Mount Clemens in the late 1770s. They were followed by Congregationalists in 1800 and the first Michigan Methodist minister in 1803.

Michigan Historical Collections in Ann Arbor holds large collections from the Presbyterian Church and the Protestant Episcopal Church, in addition to other denominations. Dutch Reformed Church records are at Calvin College and Seminary Library in Grand Rapids; Finnish church records are deposited at the Finnish-American Historical Archives at Suomi College in Hancock. The Upjohn Library at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo has a large collection of Baptist archive material.

Many early Detroit churches have their records deposited at the Burton Historical Collection–Detroit Public Library. The records for the Central Methodist Church and St. Paul’s Cathedral begin in 1820. The St. Joseph, Michigan Catholic Mission records of 1720 to 1772 are at this repository.

The Michigan Historical Records Survey, WPA, completed an Inventory of the Church Archives of Michigan, and many of the church records from this inventory were published from 1936 through 1942. Several unpublished inventories are held by the Burton Historical Collection–Detroit Public Library.

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