New Jersey, Church Records, 1675-1970 is a free collection at FamilySearch with a searchable name index and browsable images. These records come from various denominations and localities in New Jersey.
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What Can I Learn from Church Records?
These records may include:
- Names of parents, children, other family members, and witnesses
- Event dates and places (birth, baptism, marriage, death or burial)
- Previous residences
How Can Church Records Help Me Find Other Records?
With information from these records you may be able to:
- Use christening records (baptisms) to identify a person’s birth date and place. These are an excellent substitute for civil birth records
- Use confirmation records to identify a person’s birth date and place and his or her age
- Use church records in general to identify other family members who may have served as witnesses to an event
- Use the date of the event along with the locality or residence to find the family in census and land records
- It is often helpful to extract the information on all children with the same parents. If the surname is unusual, you may want to compile entries for every person of the same surname and sort them into families based on the names of the parents. Continue to search the birth records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who were born in the same county or nearby
- An infant’s christening usually took place within a few days or few weeks of the birth, depending on the religion
- Church records are considered a primary source. They are usually reliable because they are kept by the minister, or a clerk appointed by the minister, who usually recorded an event at or very near the time it occurred
- Look at the officiator at your ancestor’s wedding or burial. They are often clergymen. Check with local congregations or a local historical society to see if they help you determine the sect from clergyman’s name
- Many individuals attended the closest Christian church. This is especially true in small, rural communities where there may be only one church in the area. Search the records of that church
- Immigrants usually kept the same religion after migrating and may have banded together to form their own congregation. This is especially true if they did not speak English. If the country of origin is known that may also be a clue as some countries had a state church
- Check with local historical societies for indexes to church records. Be aware that as with any index, transcription errors may occur