National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

Introduction to Religious Records

NGS offers Introduction to Religious Records, a seven-lesson self-paced course.

Our ancestors did not live in a vacuum. Among other influences their lives were shaped by the teachings of the churches they attended. Information contained in church histories can provide insight into an ancestor’s personality and character.

Records kept by religious institutions are among the most useful of genealogical sources available. Details of baptisms, marriages, and burials, for example, become vital records substitutes in periods when there was no civil registration of vital events. Such records were usually created by a witness to the event in question close in time to the event. This course presents instruction on how to find and use these valuable records.

What Will I Learn

Upon completion of this seven-lesson online course a student can:

  • describe which churches were in existence during colonial times;
  • explain how American churches have evolved; 
  • describe the type of information found in religious records; 
  • list the types of religious records that the major denominations kept;  
  • analyze religious records to get the most information out of them; 
  • begin your search to locate religious records; and 
  • write a citation for a religious record.

To learn more about Introduction to Religious Records, see the course syllabus here.

Requirements & Fees

You will need a computer and Internet connection to download the course PDF file from the NGS website. You’ll also need the free Adobe Reader to open, view, and print the course on your own computer.

The course tuition is $45.00 for members and $70.00 for non-members. Join today to receive the member price for courses.

Register online for the Introduction to Religious Records course now.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

All purchases of courses are final. There are no refunds or credits available.

Certificate of Completion

This is an independent learning course and not eligible for a certificate of completion.

Please note: The National Genealogical Society is not a licensing body, so no certification or accreditation is implied. For more information about certification or accreditation, please see Becoming a Professional Genealogist.


Contact the NGS Course Administrator at

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Online Courses:

Online Courses are reinventing and reinvigorating learning by taking better advantage of updated genealogical information, new resources, or better methods. Rather than traveling through inclement weather or across long distances, you can take advantage of your schedule, by just going to your computer and enrolling in an online course. NGS online store.