Letter From the Editor: Leap of Faith

Letter From the Editor: Leap of Faith

Helping you find your ancestors' religious records.

Talking about religion might clear a crowd at the water cooler or a cocktail party. For genealogists, on the other hand, the subject is anything but taboo.

That’s because your ancestors’ faith is a critical piece of your family history puzzle: Just like government agencies, churches produced records that can help you reconstruct your forebears’ lives, link generations and even understand ancestors’ motivations. Especially for time periods where county records are incomplete or nonexistent, church records could prove to be your genealogical holy grail.

Earlier Family Tree Magazine guides to church records—“Soul Searching” in August 2010, for instance—reviewed resources common to many US religions. In this issue, we’re introducing a new series that will help you understand and explore the nuances of different denominations’ documents. Each four-page Religious Records Guide will focus on a specific faith and:

  • recap the church’s history in the United States, including a timeline of key events
  • outline important, unique records for tracing ancestors of that faith
  • explain the church’s administrative divisions and which offices or archives keep records

We’ll bring you guides to Jewish, Quaker and Lutheran records later in 2012.

As with religion in genealogy, it’s never taboo to tell us what you think—about this new series or anything else in the magazine. We invite you to email your comments, criticisms or kudos to FTMedit@fwmedia.com, or visit us on Facebook.

Allison’s top three tips from this issue
1. Verify ancestor data found in online pedigree databases before grafting those finds onto your family tree.
2. Turn to community cookbooks to find authentic recipes
your ancestors would have prepared and eaten.
3. Can’t find a record of your ancestors’ marriage? Check for annulment or divorce records—which will include the details about when and where they got hitched.
From the March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine