The Lutheran Archives Center hold records for churches, organizations, and individuals affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and their predecessors located in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Metropolitan New York, Upstate New York, and all of New England. We do not contain all Lutheran church records. For records of central Pennsylvania, please contact the ELCA Region 8 Archives. For records of western Pennsylvania, please contact the Tri-Synod Archives.
RECORDS OF CONGREGATIONS
The archives holds records from two groups of congregations in its service area: those which have closed; and those which are active and have chosen to deposit their records, or copies thereof, in the archives for more efficient access by researchers. The vast majority of Lutheran congregations maintain their own records and researchers must contact the congregations directly for information. The organizational records of a congregation, including minutes and reports, legal documents, photos, etc., are most useful for congregations and local historians.
The parish registers of congregations contain, in chronological sequence, the records of pastoral acts performed by the pastors of the congregation (baptisms, marriages, funerals, confirmations). These records are useful for individuals, family historians and genealogists. Very few of these records have been indexed, however, and many of the 18th and 19th century registers are written in German. Researchers are welcome to use these records for research. We can provide information regarding records we hold, and information on how to contact congregations.
Lutheran Archives Center holds a large number of collections of personal papers of Lutheran clergy, theologians and church workers. Examples include: from the 18th century, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg and Justus Henry Christian Helmuth; from the 19th century, Charles Porterfield Krauth, William Julius Mann and Beale Melancthon Schmucker; and from the 20th century, Henry Eyster Jacobs, Sr., Charles Michael Jacobs, Jr., O. Frederick Nolde, Theodore G. Tappert, Martin J. Heinecken and John H. P. Reumann. Personal papers are generally most useful to academic researchers studying specific topics in church history or theology.
ARCHIVES OF CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS
Lutheran Archives Center holds the archives of the following Lutheran synods and church bodies:
Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States; 1748-1962
Eastern Pennsylvania Synod, LCA, 1963-1968
Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, LCA and ELCA; 1968-present
Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, LCA and ELCA; 1968-present
New Jersey Synod, ULCA, LCA & ELCA; 1950-present
Upstate New York Synod, LCA & ELCA; 1966-present
New England Synod, LCA & ELCA, 1963-present
Augustana Lutheran Church, New York Conference; 1870-1962
Augustana Lutheran Church, New England Conference, 1912-1962
The General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, 1866-1918
Metropolitan New York Synod, LCA and ELCA, 1966-present
Synod archives document the history of the church organizations and their varied ministries. They are most useful to historians and academic researchers in church history.