Vermont Church Records
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This entry was originally written by Scott Andrew Bartley and Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Church records are under-utilized in Vermont research, but they do contain good sources for genealogical research. Lists of members (sometimes the only place where wives’ names are mentioned in any records), baptisms, removals, exclusions, and the intricacies of community life are obvious in many church records. The only easy way to access them is through the Works Projects Administration (WPA) inventory located at The Vermont Public Records Division. The inventory is divided into Protestant Episcopal (published), Congregational, and miscellaneous denominations (only typescript copies), and then by town. The inventory, taken in the 1940s, can be used as a guide for tracking down the whereabouts of many church records that may have been held in private homes of church members, or the town clerk’s office, for safe keeping. However, both the Special Collections at University of Vermont’s Bailey-Howe Library (see Vermont Manuscripts) and the Vermont Historical Society have become repositories for many records if they are not at the local church or in the town clerk’s office. In some cases, the records were removed to centralized religious repositories both in and out of state.
During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Vermont history, tax revenues supported ministers and church buildings for the “majority” church. Those town residents who dissented were eligible to claim a tax exemption with the town, providing supporting evidence for their claim. Abstracts of these “religions certificates,” by town, have been published in Alden M. Rollins’ Vermont Religious Certificates (Rockport, Maine: Picton Press, 2002), although it cannot be considered a complete listing of all such certificates.