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Genealogy Tip of the Day
Requesting Information from Churches
 Related Resources
• Letter Writing 101
• Research & Correspondence Logs
• Vital Records

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You've done your research and you're relatively certain you've located the church which your ancestor attended. Now it is time to write directly to the church to see if they have any records that might help you. Keep in mind as you formulate your request that churches are often busy places with very limited staff and they aren't required to even respond to your letter, much less take the time to help you out. Keep your letter short, friendly and to the point. Ask if they have any records for the time frame that you are interested in and, if they don't, if they are available elsewhere. Specify the type of record you are interested in, if there is one (baptism, marriage, death, etc.). You can also include one to two specific requests for your ancestor if you know the type of record and a relatively narrow timeline for which you are searching (i.e. the baptismal record for my grandfather, Walter Thomas, on May 19, 1917). If you have a large number of requests, you may also want to ask if they can recommend a local researcher to search the records for you.

Improving Your Chance of a Response

  • Be polite and appreciative
  • Include full names and dates for any specific requests
  • If you are a member of the same denomination, mention this in your letter
  • Enclose a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) and a small donation for their time

For Further Research:

Using Church Records in Your Genealogy Research


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