General Collection Information
This collection contains records from Presbyterian churches in the United States from 1701 to 1970. Records collected by American missionaries in Lebanon are also included. The collection consists of records of baptism, marriage, death, burial, and church membership. Please note that record formats will vary as this collection covers a wide range of dates and individual churches. Newer records may be printed, but most of the collection is handwritten. Most records for this collection are in English, but records from Lebanon may be in English, French, or Arabic.
Using this Collection
The collection includes the following information:
Deaths and burials
This collection also contains church membership records. These records haven’t been indexed but are worth browsing, as they often provide information about how your ancestor came to join or leave the church. These are particularly useful for ancestors who may have immigrated, as they sometimes indicate the names of other churches your ancestor may have attended.
Church records are an excellent place to research your ancestors. Church records often contain names and details for other family members, allowing you to trace a family sometimes as far back as centuries. In the case of baptismal records, you may find records for adult baptisms or even entire families who were baptized at the same time. This often indicates the family recently joined the Presbyterian faith. Records of infant baptism usually indicate that the family already has a standing membership in the church.
Many of the records in this collection are ledgers which may span multiple pages. Click the arrow to the right of the image to access the rest of the record.
Collection in Context
The roots of Presbyterianism trace back to the Protestant Reformation. Influenced by Calvinist philosophies, Presbyterianism is distinguished from other Protestant sects by its namesake ruling body, the presbytery. Presbyteries are councils which consist of Church elders and ministers who oversee all of the congregations in their district. Although Presbyterian congregations have existed in America since the 1630s, it wasn’t until 1706 that the first presbytery was founded in Philadelphia.
In 1819, a group of American Presbyterian missionaries were sent to Lebanon to aid in education and health care. The National Synod of Syria and Lebanon began overseeing the Presbyterian Church’s missions in 1956. The Lebanese records in this collection reflect that time period.
This collection is housed at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Bailey, Rev. Kenneth, Th.D. “The Presbyterian Church in the Middle East.” One Magazine. Last modified /June 1999. https://cnewa.org/magazine/the-presbyterian-church-in-the-middle-east-30841/
Presbyterian Church USA. “Lebanon.” Last modified 2021. https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/global/lebanon/
Presbyterian Historical Society. “History of the Church.” Last modified 2018. https://www.history.pcusa.org/history-online/presbyterian-history/history-church
Presbyterian Historical Society. “Guide to the Syria-Lebanon Mission Records.” Last modified 2020. https://www.history.pcusa.org/collections/research-tools/guides-archival-collections/rg-492
29 Oct 2021: Changes were made to improve the performance of this collection. No new records were added.