Sunday, February 03, 2013

Church Record Sunday: Have You Tried a School of Theology Library?

I decided that for today's Church Record Sunday we would explore a topic I've written about before, the libraries of theological schools. As genealogists, it's important that we explore all types of repositories that could hold materials important to our research. Now if you go to the reference librarian at a school of theology and ask them for genealogy related works they are going to tell you that they have no genealogy related items. Remember, you are doing history, and  theological schools  have archival collections relating to the history of church communities.

Consider some of these examples.

Looking at Boston University's School of Theology Library, Their Archival Collections consist of church records, manuscript letters and memoirs, and other primary source material. 

I found some great manuscript collections at Emory UniversityPitts Theology Library   including this list of manuscript collections involving women. Here you will find personal and family papers. Their other manuscript collections can be found on their webpage Subject Guides to Collections.

In the Andover-Harvard Theological Library Manuscript and Archives Collection you can find personal papers, congregation records and institutional records involving the Unitarian Universalist Church. 

The list of wonderful resources goes on.

Schools of theology have archival collections, those collections can include individual congregational records as well as manuscript collections involving individuals, ministers and families. 

The original post on this topic I wrote in 2009 is below. The post includes additional links, including one of Theology libraries that you may find useful as a reference.


I was talking to a genealogist at a local society where I spoke this month and she was telling me about some of the wonderful places she had researched and what she had found. One of the important truisms she echoed was that sometimes, places that don’t have genealogy collections do have genealogical information. 

In this case she was researching a Methodist minister ancestor and was at the Claremont School of Theology (CST). She mentioned this because I am a graduate of the school, which is a Methodist seminary located in Southern California.

She went to the reference librarian and asked if there was any information on her particular ancestor. Well, because this isn’t a genealogical library, the librarian initially said no, but then directed her to a series of reports that did include biographical information that was immensely helpful to her research.

CST is a Methodist seminary so of course they do have some materials on the history of Methodism and those who served, as well as other religions. No, it is not a genealogy library but remember you are doing historical research. And in this case she was doing research on Methodist religious history.

CST has an online library catalog and other resources which you can access at

There is a list of accredited theological schools at This list might provide you with some libraries and their online catalogs that might assist you in your research.

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