Researching Your Lutheran Ancestor at Concordia Historical Institute

How do I Begin?

Concordia Historical Institute's Reference Staff is delighted to assist you. For starters....

  1. CHI holds the record books containing the official acts of many former and active congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The name of a congregation or a pastor's name is necessary to begin searching these records. No data bank exists listing the names of every Lutheran or Missouri Synod member! We are unable to conduct extensive genealogical research.
  2. Our reference room is open 8:30 am-12:00 noon and 1:00pm-4:30pm, Monday-Friday. We are closed for certain holidays. It is recommended to check ahead of time before traveling long distance (314-505-7935).
  3. Use of CHI's collection is free to CHI members and students with ID. A $10.00 access fee applies to all others. There may be other charges, e.g., photocopies. Consult the Researching at Concordia Historical Institute for more information.
  4. Some materials have restrictions and may require special arrangements. CHI reserves the right to limit or restrict access to materials.

CHI Serves the Genealogist

The popularity of tracing family roots has steadily grown over the years. CHI welcomes genealogists who have specific inquiries concerning their ancestors. Information available is normally limited to baptism, confirmation, marriage and funeral entries. The researcher may anticipate that records before 1920 are in German and that 19th century records are written in German script.

Baptism records

Baptismal information is a gold-mine to the genealogist. Normally one may expect to have recorded the child's name, the dates of birth and baptism, the parent's names (including the mother's maiden name) and the names of the sponsors. Many times the sponsors are relatives and should not be overlooked. Sometimes baptism records contain information about the place of birth and even the number of children born to the parents.

Confirmation records

The Rite of Confirmation generally takes place when a child reaches the age of 13 or 14 years (at the 8th grade level). Confirmation records generally record the child's name, baptism and a scripture verse given by the pastor. Confirmation records may contain some clues but usually do not offer many answers to the genealogist.

Marriage records

Marriage records give the names of the bride and groom and the date of the union. If the couple are recent immigrants, the place of emigration may be also stated. Sometimes the reading of the bans are included.

Funeral records

Funeral records offer the names of the deceased and date of burial. They may also record the date of death, cause and survivors. Often the scripture text of the funeral is recorded and the place of burial.


Doing Genealogy by Mail

Unfortunately at the present time the Institute does not have sufficient staff to do extensive genealogical research. We are also unable to provide transcription or translation services. However, our reference staff will attempt to find answers to very specific questions, e.g., the date of a marriage or the details of a baptism. Service charges apply.

You must be able to provide us with either the name of the parish where the event took place or the name of the pastor who officiated. We will also need to know a fairly specific time frame as to when the event took place. Keep in mind that we are only able to research those records that have been deposited at CHI.

In addition to the record books kept at CHI, some records also are on microfilm. Films are loaned to Institute members directly for a modest fee. Nonmembers need to borrow the films through their local or a university library by ILL.

For more information and before beginning research, please consult our page on Researching at Concordia Historical Institute.

Remember: there is no substitute for doing your own research. Visit Concordia Historical Institute and experience its outstanding collections for yourself!


If it's information on your Lutheran ancestor you need ... CHI's Archives and Library include:

Of special interest to genealogists in CHI's Reference Room*:

* $10.00 access/ assistance fee for Non-Members, includes 10 copies; No access fee and member rate for copies to students with ID


If you have a request for information or reference services, please send an e-mail to reference@chi.lcms.org.

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