Source Information

Ancestry.com. U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. ELCA, Birth, Marriage, Deaths. Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Chicago, Illinois.

About U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969

This collection contains baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial records from more than 2,000 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations. The records range from the mid-19th century through the early 20th century. Select records may be found prior to the year 1926. The information contained in the records varies from congregation to congregation (and sometimes from minister to minister). In some ethnic congregations, you may run into records in German, Danish, or some other language.

The ELCA was formed in 1988 with the merger of the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America. Use the browse tool on the right to see which congregations are represented.

Baptisms (sometimes listed as christenings) typically include the name of the child, birth date and place, parents’ names, baptism date, and sponsors’ names. In some cases, the birth date is noted as well. In some registers of children baptized, you may find family groups being baptized together. An infant baptism can be a clue that that member had been in the congregation for all of his or her life, whereas later christenings could indicate the family had more recently joined the congregation.

Marriage records include the marriage date, the couple’s names, residences, and the name of the officiant. Ages and remarks were sometimes recorded as well.

Death records typically included the name of the deceased, date of death, date and place of the funeral, and officiating minister.

Within the collection you may also find membership records, with some listing the names and dates of admission, communion records, and how they were received into the church (e.g., baptism, certificate/transfer from another church, or other, which could indicate a transfer from another denomination). You may also find death dates listed in the membership registers. There are also some registers of church officials that can include dates of service, day-to-day business of the church, and functions of the congregation.