Friday, August 17, 2018

Seek Out Religious Membership Rolls

Membership lists and directories for religious institutions can yield important clues to locating your ancestors at specific periods in their lives. 

Religious institutions have maintained these files in a variety of forms, from lists and indexes to elaborate ledgers, and files on families and specific members.

Membership records typically include information on when and through what process(es) someone became a member of the congregation. Membership transfers  into a congregation and outward to another congregation in another place may help you trace your ancestors' movements between different places over time. These may be recorded in a membership roll or ledger, and written correspondence may have been retained. In addition, the congregational minutes or administrative records should be consulted to possibly reveal other details of an incoming or outgoing membership transfer.

Membership records may include the membership and life events such as birth, baptism, christening, bar/bat mitzvah, marriage, annulment, divorce, death, burial, and any disciplinary actions imposed.  They may include records of religious education. 

While the types of records will vary by religious group, location, and time period, they are important for the life details they provide - and for the migration clues and congregational details they may provide. 

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