Many religious groups have used the term
"Brethren" in their name. Learn about Dunkards, Brethren, German Baptist
Brethren, Dunkard Brethren, Church of the Brethren, Fellowship of Grace
Brethren and more at Brethren Groups. Read about the history and beliefs of
the various Brethren churches in Brethren history books, The
Brethren Encyclopedia, online at the Church of the Brethren Network (COB-Net),
and also their History and
The Brethren Encyclopedia
This comprehensive three-volume reference has
short biographies and genealogies of some early Brethren families, lists of
published family history books, histories of congregations, lists of
ministers, locations of churches, and much history and doctrine of the various
Brethren churches. Learn how our Brethren ancestors lived, dressed and
worshiped from this wonderful resource. Large genealogical libraries and Brethren college libraries
have this set. It is also for sale at bookstores.
Brethren Family History Books
Since the 1940s, Brethren families have been
encouraged to write their family histories. Shortened versions of many of
these genealogies were published in The Brethren Encyclopedia, while
hundreds more are in Brethren college libraries and at the Brethren Historical Library and
Archives at Elgin, Illinois. Look for book titles in the online card
catalogs of Brethren libraries and in the huge chapter "Bibliography of the
Brethren" in volume three of The Brethren Encyclopedia. Also, see the
Bibliography at the COB-Net History and Genealogy website.
Obituaries In Brethren Church Periodicals
Obituaries from Brethren church periodicals are an
excellent resource for genealogists. In The Brethren Encyclopedia, see
the articles "Brethren Press" and "Publishing" and then individual articles
about The Gospel Visitor, The Brethren at Work, The Primitive Christian,
The Vindicator, The Gospel Messenger and other publications. The Brethren
Historical Library and Archives at Elgin, Illinois, and most Brethren college
libraries have obituary indexes to some of these publications. See the BHLA homepage for
information about purchasing these indexes.
Brethren Church Records
The Brethren practice
adult baptism, therefore there are no records of baptisms of infants. After an
adult was baptized, his or her name was added to the church membership list.
Church Membership Lists
early church membership lists have been lost, most of those which have
survived have been printed in Brethren church history books. Some of these
lists are available online at the History and Genealogy: Church
Records. More recent membership lists are in the local churches. Use
The Brethren Encyclopedia to find the names of churches. See a list of
currently Active Congregations
with web pages at the History and Genealogy site. Write to the Brethren
Historical Library and Archives at Elgin, Illinois, to ask the location of
historical records. Check the card catalogs of Brethren college libraries and
of area city and county libraries for history books about the congregation
which may have printed membership lists.
Church Minutes, District Minutes, and Annual Meeting Minutes
Business meetings of a church and of the quarterly
and district meetings were recorded in minutes. These unpublished and
unindexed records are in manuscript form and usually at the local church. If
the church has ceased to exist, the minutes may be at the Brethren Historical
Library and Archives at Elgin, Illinois, or at a nearby Brethren college
library. For an example of church minutes see Lost Creek Church of the Brethren.
Annual Meeting Minutes are published each year and are available at local
churches, Brethren college libraries, at the Brethren Historical Library and
Archives, and are available for sale. Brethren Press reprints historical
annual minutes for the earliest years.
Brethren Cemetery Records
The earliest Brethren congregations used public
cemeteries. On the frontier, Brethren families had small graveyards on their
farms. More recently, cemeteries were located next to meetinghouses, some of
which still exist as cemeteries although the church is no longer active.
Letters to the various agencies which may have current responsibility for the
care of old cemeteries will be necessary. Write to local churches, county
cemetery boards, historical societies, local libraries, the Brethren
Historical Library and Archives at Elgin, Illinois, and Brethren college
libraries in the area. A current project of the Fellowship of Brethren
Genealogists is to gather and index records of Brethren Cemeteries.
Brethren Church Histories
Since 1900, the publication of district and
congregational histories has been encouraged. Look for a history of your
family's church in the online card catalogs of Brethren College libraries, in
the chapter "Bibliography of the Brethren" in volume three of The Brethren
Encyclopedia, and in the online COB-Net Brethren
Bibliography under "Local History." After finding a title, write to the
Brethren Historical Library and Archives at Elgin, Illinois, which has name
indexes to the older district histories.
1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120. Ph:
847-742-5100. E-mail: Ken
Shaffer. Fax: 847-742-6103 ext. 294. The Brethren Historical Library and
Archives is located at the General Offices of the Church of the Brethren in
Elgin, Illinois. Serving as the church's official archives, part of its
mission is to provide a center for research into Brethren life and history.
The BHLA has many books and indexes helpful to family researchers and will do
limited research for a fee. The card catalog is not yet online. Please
consider a donation of your family history book to the archives and a donation
of your time or money to help make these precious historical records available
for all researchers.
The card catalogs of most Brethren college
libraries are available online. See the article "Historical Libraries" in the
The Brethren Encyclopedia for a list of libraries and archives of the
various Brethren groups. Use the online card catalogs of Brethren libraries to
find books about your surname and books about the history of your family's
church. After you locate a title, write for photocopies of index pages with
your surname. Next write for the pages which mention your family. Libraries
will send photocopies of pages for a small charge, however, please consider an
additional donation, as these days all libraries are overwhelmed with our
Family history books, church histories and books
on related topics are available for sale from many bookstores. Write for their
catalogs. Also, do a subject or title search for the terms "Brethren,"
"Dunkards," "German Baptist," and the other Brethren groups in online
Learn what resources are available, what records
are indexed, and possibilities for more research. Links to all kinds of
Brethren information are provided: libraries, passenger lists, family web
pages, history, doctrine, bookstores, and much more.
Join the online discussion group and meet others
researching your family. By e-mail you can share your research and learn
something new about the Brethren, their history, and Brethren genealogical
Discover more about your Brethren ancestors in our
periodical Brethren Roots. Over the years, many volunteers have
organized and indexed old records making Brethren research easier for the
genealogists of today. Much of this material has been printed in Brethren
Roots and now this kind of information is becoming available online. Join
the Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists and help publish more Brethren
material for family history research.