There are times in genealogy research when you hit a dead end. This can happen particularly when you reach ancestors whose birth, marriage, or death predates the onset of official state vital recordkeeping. There are numerous options for document types with which to move forward, though, and one of them is bible records.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, almost every Christian household in the United States had a family bible. Oftentimes, these bibles were a present to a bride on occasion of her marriage. Family births, deaths, and marriages were recorded in these bibles, usually in the inside cover or in the page margins. Later bibles included preprinted form pages to record this information. The information that you might find will not necessarily be limited to names and dates. For example, you might find not just the death date of an individual, but the church where the funeral was held, the pastor, and the hymns that were sung. Or, a record of a death might also note the cause of death. You may also find newspaper clippings, manuscripts, letters, programs, and other material in a family bible.
If you are lucky enough to own a family bible that has been passed down through the generations, make use of it for any and all genealogical data that you can glean from it. If you don't have possession of a family bible, get in touch with other family members or shared descendants to see if they have one that you can get access to.
If you are unable to locate a family bible within your own family, you may be able to find one for your family in other places.
Local Archives, Historical and Genealogical Societies
If you know that the family lived in a particular area, check archives and historical societies in that region to see if they have any family bibles in their collections. Regional genealogical societies also frequently publish genealogical information from family bibles, in either book form, or in their newsletters or journals.
St. Tammany Parish Library Genealogy Collection
Here at the library, we have some published transcriptions of bible records. To see all of the bible records books that we have in our genealogy collection, click here, opens a new window.
Access our genealogy databases here, opens a new window, including American Ancestors, Ancestry, and FamilySearch.
You can access Ancestry from home through December 31, 2020. To use American Ancestors, you will need to come into the Covington or Slidell branches. FamilySearch is free to use from home, just create your own username and password, and you will be all set.
- Hover over 'Search' in the top menu on the far left
- Select 'Browse Databases A-Z'
- In the search box, 'Search by Database Name' type "bible records" with quotation marks around the phrase. This will show you all of the databases in American Ancestors that include bible records.
For transcriptions of bible records in their collection:
- Hover over 'Library' in the top menu
- Select 'Digital Book & Manuscript Collections'
- In the search box, type bible records. This will give you transcriptions of all of the bible records in their library.
- From the top menu, select 'Search' and then 'Catalog'
- Search by a location. For example, a county or a state.
- If there are bible records for that location, you will see bible records as a category that you can select (i.e. "United States, Louisiana - Bible records"). Selecting it will show you all of the available bible records resources for that location.
- From the catalog search, you can also search 'bible records' as a subject.
- Your results will be broken down by location; you can then browse for the relevant records.
- Select 'Search' from the top menu, then select 'Card Catalog'
- In the keyword search box, type 'bible records'
- You can then filter by location or date to narrow in on relevant bible records
- Bible records at the Digital Public Library of America, opens a new window
- Daughters of the American Revolution bible records and transcriptions database, opens a new window; over 84,000 bible records available
- Bible Records Online, opens a new window; has over 1,150 family bibles