NGS Books

Understanding and Using Baptismal Records

Baptismal records can be challenging but important records to access and utilize for genealogical research. Many baptismal records were created well before civil registration of births existed in the states. These records can be an underutilized resource for family historians and genealogists.

Understanding and Using Baptismal Records focuses on the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and begins by providing an overview of the baptismal beliefs and practices of religious denominations in Colonial America. The author then describes the recording practices of Catholic baptisms as well as those of the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Moravian faiths. Readers learn how to understand, interpret, and analyze the information and evidence found in baptismal records. They also develop an appreciation of the difficulty in finding some early records and the rewards of discovering the genealogical clues therein.

Understanding and Using Baptismal Records is available in print in the NGS online store.


John T. Humphrey, CG, (1948–2012) was a certified genealogist and a prolific author who lectured in the United States and abroad. A specialist in German, Moravian, Pennsylvanian, and Welsh ancestry, his articles appeared in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. He compiled the Pennsylvania Birth Series, a fifteen-volume set, and was featured in the National Genealogical Society’s Paths to Your Past video presentation.