Source Information

Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives
U.S., Southern Baptist Church Records, 1750-1899 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2022.
Original data: Microfilm Church Records. Nashville, Tennessee. Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.

About U.S., Southern Baptist Church Records, 1750-1899

General Collection Information

This collection consists of membership lists from various Southern Baptist churches in the United States. The lists were created between 1750 and 1899, and may include information about your ancestor’s church membership. Church membership records usually show when individuals joined the church and how they were received. They sometimes will show how they left the church (moved, death, expelled, etc.) and when. In some rare instances, information about your ancestor’s baptism, death, or marriage may be included. Some lists have separate pages for male and female members. The names of your ancestor’s spouse, siblings, and parents may also be on the lists, but families may not be listed as a group even if they were members of the same church.

Using this Collection

Records in this collection may include:

  • Names
  • Church admission date
  • Membership status (died, left, excluded)
  • Baptism date
  • Death date
  • Marriage date
  • Most Baptist churches didn’t keep separate records for important events in the lives of their congregations. Membership lists may be the only place to find these vital dates.

    Church records offer the possibility of tracing milestones in an ancestor’s life from birth to death, especially if they attended the same church for a long time. Church documents can also provide insights into the movement of an ancestor who was born in one place and then married or died somewhere else.

    Collection in Context

    These membership lists were created by the local church clerks of the Baptist churches represented in the collection. They are images of the documents in their original form, making them high quality primary sources. Microfilm copies of the original documents are housed at the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, Tennessee.

    Baptist Church associations began to take root in the southern British colonies during the mid-1700s. In 1814, Baptists in America organized their first national organization, the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions (later called the Triennial Convention). Baptist churches in the northern and southern United States cooperated on missionary work and religious publications until the mid-1800s. In 1845, a disagreement about slavery split the Baptist Church into two camps. Northern Baptists were against slavery while Southern Baptists defended it. There were approximately 351,000 Baptists in the South and 4,100 Baptist churches in southern states in 1845.


    Encyclopedia Britannica. “Southern Baptist Convention, American religious organization.” Last modified April 5, 2021.

    Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Vol. II. “Southern Baptist Convention.”

    Southern Baptist Handbook, 1993.

    Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. “Family History.” Accessed April 20, 2022.

    ---. “Information.” Accessed April 20, 2022.

    Sumners, Bill. “Vital Church Records.” Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. Accessed April 20, 2022.