Hamilton County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 15865
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215-0865
Telephone:  (513) 956-7078

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A chapter of the
Ohio Genealogical Society

Religious Records

The records of churches, synagogues and meetings are a valuable source for researching Hamilton County ancestry, particularly to supplement records lost in the three courthouse fires
For information on denominations, individual institutions, and archives, see Religious Institutions - Records Repositories.
Types of religious records
Many churches have religious education that leads to church membership for 12-14 year olds. These records can substitute for missing birth or baptism records. Many give parents' names. 
Sunday School, societies, missions, elders, deacons, trustees, officers, etc.:
These records may have survived for early Cincinnati religious institutions where births, marriages or burials are incomplete.
Trustee and financial records
These records may list ancestors contributing to the religious institution for building funds, organ purchase, mission work, etc. 
Church establishment, constitution, deeds, etc.
Public records that involve religious institutions can be found in the Recorder's Office. Specific books have records of churches and synagogues. Deeds and mortgages of religious institutions are recorded in the deeds and mortgage series.
Indexes to religious records
Published indexes to Protestant baptisms before 1900, Protestant and Catholic marriages before 1885, and Protestant and Catholic burials before 1890 cover most of the surviving church records in Hamilton County:  
  • Selected Hamilton County, Ohio Church Baptism Records, Early-1859; 1860-1869; 1870-1879; 1880-1889; 1890-1899
  • Restored Hamilton County, Ohio Marriages, 1808-1849; 1850-1859; 1860-1869; 1870-1884
  • Restored Hamilton County, Ohio Marriage Records, Supplements, 1850-1884
  • Hamilton County, Ohio Church Death Records, 1811-1849
  • Hamilton County, Ohio Church Burial Records, 1850-1859; 1860-1869; 1870-1879; 1880-1889
Most of these books are available for purchase from the Hamilton County Genealogical Society’s Shop (members receive 20% discount). 
Lists of names in the records of these churches are searchable on the Cincinnati History Library and archives website, along with finding aids (click the first letter of the name of the church):
  • Christ Church (Episcopal)
  • Concordia Lutheran Church
  • Price Hill United Church of Christ
  • St. John's Unitarian Church 
Index of Death Notices Appearing in Der Christliche Apologete, A National German Methodist Newspaper, 1839 – 1899 - An index compiled by Jeffrey Herbert of notices that appeared in this national German Methodist newspaper is available in both print and online indexes.
Identifying the religious institution
If a family is not found in the published or online indexes to religious records, try these strategies:
  • Use city directories to locate religious institutions in the neighborhood where the family lived
  • Check death notices to find out if a religious institution was named as the site of a funeral service
  • Check death records and cemetery records for the name of the cemetery, which may be associated with a particular religious institution
Another helpful type of index is for marriage officiants, often named in Probate Court marriage records without an indication of their religious affiliation or institution. Check the index to discover in which religious institution a marriage took place and then check the institution for other records. Indexes to 1870-1899 priests, ministers and rabbis in Hamilton County are included in these books, which list marriages recorded in Probate Court:
  • Marriages Recorded in Hamilton County, Ohio, 1870-1884, pages xvii to xxxvii
  • Marriages Recorded in Hamilton County, Ohio, 1885-1889, Part I, pages xiv to xxxiii
  • Marriages Recorded in Hamilton County, Ohio, 1890-1894, pages xv to xxxvii
  • Marriages Recorded in Hamilton County, Ohio, 1894-1899, pages xv to xliii
These books are available for purchase from the HCGS Shop.
Jewish congregations 
Hamilton County Jewish Congregations  A quick reference and resource guide to historical and current Jewish congregations. Each entry includes names associated with the congregation, its cultural and religious affiliation, years in existence, a history of its addresses and, where relevant, its associated cemetery and website. Also included for each congregation is a summary of the most significant local research resources where more information can be found.
Access to religious records       
For information on access to religious records at churches, synagogues or archives, see Records Repositories – Religious Institutions.
Books and microfilm
The Cincinnati Bicentennial Microfilming Project copied the records of nearly 100 Protestant churches in Hamilton County, with the assistance of HCGS volunteers. See the complete list in A Guide to Genealogical Resources in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, available from the HCGS Shop. All of these microfilms are in the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library (CHPL) and the Norwood, Ohio, Family History Center.
The microfilms of these churches can also be borrowed for use at other family history centers. Find one near you. Search the catalog for both Cincinnati and Hamilton County churches, even if the church is not in Cincinnati. A search for Hamilton County churches finds only six, while a search for Cincinnati churches finds 103. 
CHPL has many records and indexes of local religious institutions in books and on microfilm. "The Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati" collection contains eight reels of microfilm for Presbyterian churches
The Archives and Rare Books Library at the University of Cincinnati has the records of these ethnic German churches:
  • First German Baptist Church; inventory
  • North German Lutheran Church (Third Protestant Memorial United Church of Christ); inventory
  • St. John's Unitarian Church; description
Original and online records
The CHPL Virtual Library has images of the records of the First New Jerusalem Society of Cincinnati (Swedenborgian). 
The Cincinnati History Library and Archives has the original records of these churches:
  • Christ Church (Episcopal)
  • Concordia Lutheran Church
  • German Methodist churches (Nippert Collection of German Methodism)
  • Price Hill United Church of Christ
  • St. John's Unitarian Church
page modified: 01/09/2023 PMD; 09/14/2020  RTB