Sunday, July 19, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Religious Periodicals

Many religious denomination put out periodicals that share stories involving doctrine, church happenings and even various reports from members. Information about members may include photos, vital record information including obituaries, activities they participated in and even their thoughts related to religious doctrine.

These periodicals may not be indexed, in that case you will need to search them through the years that your ancestor was a member of that religious denomination.

Where do you find religious periodicals?

The Christan Periodical Index began in 1957 and is a subscription based databases, indexing 130 titles. Consult their website for a list of these titles at Many of their periodicals are Christian in nature but also have to do with another topic like science or teaching. Even so there are some denominational journals that may be of use in your search. To search the index, you will need to find a library near you who subscribes to it.

One source is Religious Periodicals of the United States edited by Charles H. Lippy. According to one of the reviews of this book,

The latest in Greenwood's `Historical Guides to the World's Periodicals and Newspapers,' this work is a pleasure to read, especially for those interested in American religions or periodicals. In profiles of 1,000 to 2,000 words, it describes the histories and points of view for more than 100 American religious periodicals, mostly current; then, for each it lists indexing sources, reprints available, major locations, and a detailed publication history. The profiles were written by about 50 contributors, including some outstanding scholars of American religions. Two appendixes list the periodicals' founding dates, with a parallel column noting selected events in American religious history, and the titles profiled by sponsor or religious orientation.... One might quibble with details ... but that would be ungrateful when the content is so authoritative and so readable, and the bibliographical apparatus so abundant. Recommended for any library supporting work in American religious history or the history of periodicals. --Choice

(found at
This book retails for $110.95 so you may want to find a library with a copy of it to consult.

Other places to find religious periodicals include any archive where that denomination has donated items. Some religions have their own archives and some even have universities that they support. These university library/archives may contain the religion's historical items. Some periodicals may be digitized through a service like Internet Archive or Google Books. You may also want to look to see if a compilation of older periodicals has been published.

Online sources for lists of current religious periodicals can be found at the Online Christian Library, Another way to find a denominations periodicals is to Google the word periodical with the name of the denomination.

1 comment:

Gus said...

I ordered a religious film from the FHC, it should be here in 1-2 weeks. This film covers Genesee, New York from 1775-1825.