Read these 13 Religious Genealogy Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Genealogy tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you are interested in tracing your Jewish genealogy, try doing an Internet search for the words "Jewish Genealogy" - you should find several related links to check on in your search for information.
For instance, if you are interested in finding out the meaning of Jewish names, you may be surprised to find out that people of the Jewish faith did not get surnames until the 19th century when Napoleon took over.
If your family was/is Jewish and came from Russia, Poland or Germany they were ordered by Napoleon to get a surname when he captured these countries. Napoleon ordered surnames for tax purposes and when he was eventually conquered many Jewish people went back to not having a surname, instead choosing to be "son of" names, such as Son Of Jacobson.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Jewish people adopted family names choosing to use the patriarch of the family's first name as their surname.
Have you been trying to locate your Catholic ancestors? Are you frustrated with what you are finding? Have you hit a brick wall, so to speak?
Never fear, there is a wealth of information out there for your Catholic genealogical research. First, try an Internet search for "Catholic Genealogy" and see what pops up.
One site in general should lead you to a ton of information. Here is a list of some of the types of records you may find in your Catholic genealogy search:
You may find information on the seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church believes the seven Sacraments are a sign of communication between God and man. You may find records of sacraments on baptism, reconciliation, first communion, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, and anointing the sick. You may also be able to request information on these records if you know the name of the city, the state and the church in which your relative lived and attended.
This is just a starting point; you should find even more information throughout your search.
There are several books out there to help you find your religious roots. Here are a few examples:
How to Trace Your Jewish Roots: Discovering Your Unique History by Rabbi Jo David. This book is made especially for the person doing genealogy research on their Jewish roots who has no idea how to go about it!
Routes to Roots by Ryan Taylor, this book discusses many genealogical topics to help you in our genealogy research.
Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family History and Heritage by Barbara Renick, this book gives you steps on how to best go about researching your family, including your religious roots.
If you know the name and location of your ancestors' Catholic Church/Parish, and it still exists, you can make a short but friendly request to the church office for baptism, marriage, or funeral records. Include details of your ancestor, such as: name, birthdate, marriage date, etc. If dates are unknown, try to give a close estimate of the dates. Try to request items on only one person at a time, as church offices are busy places!
If you have Southern Baptist ancestors, be sure to check out the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. The library's resources include over 25,000 books, more than 71,000 annuals (minutes and proceedings), comprehensive files of Baptist newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, audio and video recordings and photographs. The microfilm collection includes copies of newspapers, periodicals, rare books, annuals, church records, manuscript collections, theses, dissertations, and other materials.
If you are researching your Mennonite ancestors, you may want to keep some things in mind. First, you may find many of the genealogy sites linking the Mennonite history with the Amish; your search may be a bit more complicated because of the additional resources you must wade through. Some of your relatives may have been Mennonite and then became Amish when the Amish separated from the Mennonite Church in the late 1600's.
Therefore, when doing a search for your Mennonite relatives who then became Amish, or Amish relatives who became Mennonite, you may want to search both Amish and Mennonite genealogical sites for information and surname searches.
The Society of Friends, or the Quakers, may have the easiest genealogical research because they have the most detailed records saved when compared to any other church (with the exception of the Church of England).
So, if you are searching for your Quaker roots, your research may be a bit painless when compared to researching other faiths.
The most vital records may come from those taken from Monthly Meetings that the Quakers held. At times these meetings occurred with people attending from very large areas, crossing a county, a city and at times, even the state. These meetings occurred four to five times a month.
Each meeting had three books that were kept, the men's minutes, the women's minutes and the book of marriage, birth and death. Everything was recorded in these books at each meeting.
These books, while some have been lost, may be found in genealogy libraries or local Quaker college libraries. You may want to start your genealogical search in these books.
Okay, let's say you have all of your religious or faith-based genealogical research but a lot of it is in a different language than what you speak. This could very well happen, as a lot of religious historical information is not written in English. For example, a lot of Catholic genealogy may be printed in Latin. What can you do to interpret this language and find out about your relatives? You may even find a different alphabet than our own in the process of your research.
If you encounter this problem, begin with a dictionary online. There dictionaries online that include several foreign languages to help you translate what you are reading.
If that doesn't work, there are language and translation resources available to you on the Internet and How-To Guides in Latin and Genealogical Word Lists, if you do a search.
If all else fails, try hiring an interpreter who speaks that language and should be able to tell you what is written. It may be a bit expensive, but perhaps worth it if you find information about your ancestors.
If you are searching for an ordained Methodist minister in your ancestors, make sure you know if they were truly ordained. After all, many people who had Methodist preachers in the family may find out the preacher was not actually an ordained minister but just a layperson with the duties of an ordained minister.
If your relative was in fact an ordained minister in the Methodist Church than the General Commission on Archives and History may be able to help you in search. This search is for full-time, completely ordained Methodist ministers. It may be a good place to start when tracing your Methodist roots.
If you are looking for an ancestor and you know what church he or she previously attended, you should be able to find records on your relative from the church he or she attended. If the church has since merged with another church, then the new church will have the records. Another great place to begin your search for you Methodist ancestors!
Are you searching for your Lutheran relatives or some information about the Lutheran faith in general? Upon a search of the Internet, you should find plenty of information to help you in research. You should find sites that allow you to do surname searches for your Lutheran ancestors and sites that allow you to search records such as marriage and death records, for more information.
Are you curious to see if your surname could be traced back to Martin Luther whose teachings deeply influenced the Lutheran religion? If your last name is Rapp and you are related to Robert A. Rapp who was born in 1960, you may be able to trace your roots back to Martin Luther. Matter of fact, there are more than 7900 surnames that trace back to the man we know as Martin Luther. Could you be one of them?
Try doing an Internet search for "Martin Luther Genealogy" if this interests you. You never know, you could be related!
If you have, or suspect you have, Quaker ancestors, get thee over to the library or Family History Center to check out William Wade Hinshaw's 'Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy.' This is the primary resource for researchers of Quaker ancestry, and consists of six volumes, each dealing with a different region.
Looking for information on family history within the Mormon Church? A wonderful place to start is by looking in a Family History Center or Family History Library. This Library is in Salt Lake City, Utah and is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This Family History Library has an extremely impressive collection of genealogical materials, one of the best in the entire world. This library has Family History Centers located throughout the world. These centers are usually located near a Latter-day Saints Church.
If you are wishing to research your Mormon roots, try locating a Family History Center near you, or if you are in the Salt Lake City area, pay a visit to the Family History Library.