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Archives at Wentz Library, Gettysburg: Region 8 Archives

Guide to the ULS seminary archives and the ELCA Region 8 archives
Volumes of parish registers on a shelf

ELCA Region 8 Archives

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Region 8 Archives is the official repository for five synods of ELCA Region 8: AlleghenyDelaware-Maryland, Lower SusquehannaMetropolitan Washington, D.C., and Upper Susquehanna. The archives also contains the records of the historic Lutheran church bodies of the region.

Research Inquiry Overview

 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Region 8 Archives is the official repository for five synods of ELCA Region 8: Allegheny Synod, Delaware-Maryland Synod, Lower Susquehanna Synod, Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod, and Upper Susquehanna Synod. The Archives collects records of historical value created by the five synods and their respective disbanded congregations, according to ELCA records retention schedules. See our Acquisition Policy for more information.

The Archives also houses historical records from two ELCA Region 8 predecessors: the Central Pennsylvania Synod of the Lutheran Church in America and the Maryland Synod of the Lutheran Church in America.
For records of Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, and West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, please contact the Tri-Synod Archives at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania.

For records of Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod and Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, please contact the Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia.

Types of Records in our Collections

Synod records generally include annual assembly materials, meeting minutes, and information on congregations. Congregation records mainly include parish registers, council meeting minutes, and publications such as newsletters and anniversary history booklets. 

Note About Non-ELCA Congregation Records

With a few exceptions, our collections only contain records from Lutheran congregations affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) or one of its predecessor bodies such as the the American Lutheran Church (ALC), the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), or the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA). Researchers seeking records from non-ELCA congregations should contact the archives of the appropriate denomination.

Note About Active ELCA Congregation Records

Active ELCA congregations are primarily responsible for maintaining their own archives. Therefore, we recommend that researchers interested in the records of an active congregation contact the church's staff before contacting us. To obtain information on active congregations, please visit the ELCA's Find a Congregation web page.

Note About Baptism, Confirmation, and Marriage Certificates

Researchers often ask if we have a copy of a baptism, confirmation, or marriage certificate. It is not a common practice for Lutheran congregations to keep a second copy of such certificates, and therefore very few exist in our collections. In nearly every case, the only record we will potentially have is the entry in the congregation's parish register noting that the baptism, confirmation, or marriage took place. Therefore, individuals who do not have the original certificate or a facsimile will doubtfully ever be able to obtain another copy.

RESEARCH SERVICES

Researchers can view materials in our collections of synod and disbanded congregation records by appointment only. 
There are some fees to conduct research in the ELCA Region 8 Archives collections. Information about those fees can be found on our fees web page.

Limitations on Services

Researchers should note that due to our scarce resources, some limitations exist to the services we can offer.

  1. We are not able to conduct general research. Our staff will at least determine if our holdings include congregation or synod records that may contain the information researchers are seeking. We will also attempt to fulfill simple requests, such as supplying a record of baptism or confirmation to individuals who require the information to become a member of a Lutheran congregation, to be married in a Lutheran church, or to convert to another faith.
  2. We do not have a database of individuals that we can search to find baptism, confirmation, marriage, or burial records. Our church records are indexed on paper by congregation name only. When researchers are seeking information on particular individuals, they must provide the name and location of the congregation with which the person was affiliated.
  3. We do not have record of every Lutheran congregation. From our catalog of church records, we can list those congregations in a particular city, town, or township for which we have materials. However, our index does not necessarily include all Lutheran congregations that ever existed in a given vicinity.

Note About Fragile Materials

Many of the older materials in our collections are in very fragile condition. Generally, we do not allow access to original materials that may suffer damage if handled. We understand that this may disappoint some researchers. However, our policy simply reflects the reality of the situation: most of the items in our collections are one of a kind and irreplaceable. Therefore, preservation is a higher priority than access.

Fortunately, however, many of the older parish records in our collections are available in alternate formats such as microfilms, paper transcriptions, or published volumes. Because we have very few of these materials in our collections, we will gladly refer researchers to other sources that may have them. We believe this policy offers the best option—it allows us to preserve the original records, while the information they contain is still available to researchers.

RESEARCH INQUIRIES

After reviewing the information on this page, researchers should submit an inquiry so that our staff can determine whether records are available in our collections that might contain the information they are seeking. When research questions are simple and specific, our staff can often provide answers without individuals having to visit the Archives. However, if it is necessary for individuals to conduct their own research on materials in our holdings, then an appointment can be arranged.

Congregation Collections by State