Nebraska Church Records

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This entry was originally written by Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FUGA, FASG and Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

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the Nebraska Family History Research series.
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The Nebraska State Historical Society holds a number of early church records in its manuscript division. For a complete list of the counties, communities, inclusive dates, and name of the church, the society’s website should be consulted for a reference guide. Included in the collection are records from selected churches representing Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Lutheran, Evangelical United Brethren, Methodist, Episcopal, and Society of Friends denominations.

The Roman Catholic Church arrived in Nebraska Territory by way of the Jesuits, who were in the area as early as 1838. The first church in the territory was in Omaha and was founded in 1856. Today the state is served by three dioceses: the Archdiocese of Omaha, the Diocese of Lincoln, and the Diocese of Grand Island. Each has its own website and contact information for individual parishes. The search for records should start here. The Archdiocese of Omaha, 100 N. 62nd St., Omaha, NE 68132 covers Antelope, Boone, Boyd, Burt, Cedar, Colfax, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Dodge, Douglas, Holt, Knox, Madison, Merrick, Nance, Pierce, Platte, Sarpy, Stanton, Thurston, Washington, and Wayne counties. The Diocese of Lincoln, P.O. Box 80328, Lincoln, NE 68501-0328 covers thirty-five counties and portions of five more split by the river: Adams, Butler, Cass, Chase, Clay, Dawson (south), Devel (south), Dundy, Fillmore, Franklin, Frontier, Furnas, Gage, Gosper, Hall (south), Hamilton, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock, Jefferson, Johnson, Kearney, Keith (south), Lancaster, Lincoln (south), Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Pawnee, Perkins, Phelps, Polk, Red Willow, Richardson, Saline, Saunders, Seward, Thayer, Webster, and York. The Diocese of Grand Island, P.O. Box 1531, 311 W. 17th St., Grand Island, NE 68802 covers thirty counties and five more split by the river: Arthur, Banner, Box Butte, Blaine, Brown, Buffalo, Cherry, Cheyenne, Custer, Dawes, Dawson (north), Devel (north), Garden, Garfield, Grant, Greeley, Hall (north), Hooker, Howard, Keith (north), Keya Paha, Kimball, Lincoln (north), Logan, Loup, McPherson, Morrill, Rock, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sherman, Sioux, Thomas, Valley, and Wheeler counties.

The Episcopal Church historically had clergy serving the Indian Territory from Ft. Kearney; the first parish was organized in Omaha in 1856. Today the state is served by the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, 109 N. 18th St., Omaha, NE 68102. The diocesan website has contact information for all the parishes in the state.

A large number of German and Scandinavian immigrants brought their Lutheran faith to Nebraska. There are two main Lutheran denominations in Nebraska: Evangelical Lutheran Conference of America (ELCA) and Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The Nebraska Synod of ELCA, 4980 S. 118th St., Ste. D, Omaha, NE 68137-2220 provides contract information for all congregations in the Nebraska Synod. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in Nebraska, 152 S. Columbia Ave., P.O. Box 407, Seward, NE 68434-0407 provides similar information for all their congregations in the district. The websites are the first place to start in the search for Lutheran records. Both denominations may have to be contacted to determine which denomination an ancestor’s congregation may belong to now.

The search for records of the Methodist or Evangelical United Brethren Church starts with the Nebraska United Methodist Church Historical Center. The official repository for the archives of the Nebraska Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Cochrane Woods Library, 5000 St. Paul Ave., Lincoln, NE 68504-2794. The registers are at the FHL.

Although there are several Presbyterian denominations in Nebraska, it is the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia (operated by the Presbyterian Church, USA) that collects research materials for all branches of Presbyterianism. A large collection of congregational registers for Nebraska is available; they have been microfilmed and are at the FHL. Nebraska synods are served by the Lakes and Prairies Synod serving the Central Nebraska region and the synod of the Rocky Mountains. Each website provides links to the local presbyteries and contact information for local congregations.

Both The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or RLDS Church) have had missionaries and members in the state. Records for both denominations have extensive collections on microfilm at the FHL.

The search for Seventh-day Adventist records should start with the Nebraska Conference (1878–1981) and the institutions operated by that jurisdiction. Today the state is served through the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, 3440 Urish Rd., Topeka, KS 66614-4601.