With roots in the Colonial Anglican and Church of England denominations, the records of the Episcopalian faith are essential to tracing our family history across the New World. Congregational records can help tell the story of your ancestor's religious life and activities.
These records have been provided by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and include images from a variety of sources. The records range from the late 1600s to the mid-1900s. Each result included in this collection with have both a transcript and an image of the source document (e.g. original registers, historical society publications, etc.).
Congregational records tend to vary greatly, but you will often find the following information:
Event type, such as communion or membership lists
Date of event
Year of event
Spouse, parents, or other family members are often recorded
It is entirely probable that for those not born in the American Colonies or the United States in the earliest years of these records, you may be able to find them in parish records from across England, Scotland and Wales, in particular. Researchers are encouraged to pursue parish records from Great Britain as a natural next step in the discovery process.
In 1789, the Protestant Episcopalian Church was deemed a province of the Anglican communion, separately governed but acknowledged to be in full cooperation with the Church of England.* This important denomination in early American and British history allows us to find the essential genealogical records of our ancestors: births, marriages, deaths and burials.
The original Anglican congregations in Pennsylvania and included Christ Church, Philadelphia (est. 1695), Trinity Church, Oxford (est. 1698), St David’s, Radnor (Est 1700) and St. Thomas, Whitemarsh (est. 1702). The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania was established in 1784 after the American Revolution, led by Reverend William White. During his tenure as Bishop, it grew rapidly. The Diocese originally encompassed the entire state of Pennsylvania but in 1865, the Diocese of Pittsburgh was created to manage every parish west of the Allegheny Mountains. By 1910, there were several dioceses across the state, though the bulk of members were found in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties. The 1920s saw extensive growth in other parts of the state as people migrated away from the cities.
Congregational records may include any one of the following record type from an individual parish. These will vary greatly across the collection:
Registers of communion
Church records (administrative)
*Morton, Sunny Jane and Henderson, Harold A., CG. How to Find your Family History in U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide. Chapter 6, Anglican/Episcopal. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2019.