Iowa Church Records
This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Predominant church groups in Iowa include Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist. Less in size, but equally important in religious history in the state are the Quakers, Mormons, Mennonites, and Congregationalists. The first church building in Iowa, a Methodist Church built of logs, was constructed in Dubuque in 1834. A year later the Catholics erected a parish building in the same city. In 1843 the 'Iowa Band' of Congregational and Presbyterian clergy began ministering to the settlers in Iowa. In 1854 a small group of the Community of True Inspiration arrived from Germany, settling along the Iowa River in the mid-section of the state. A year later additional members of their group joined them, establishing the unique Amana colonies of present-day Iowa.
For an extensive bibliography on religion and religious groups in Iowa, see Peterson (1952) and Dawson and Hudson (1989), both described in Background Sources for Iowa.
The microfilming project of the Genealogical Society of Utah and the State Historical Society of Iowa has preserved a large number of church baptismal and marriage records. The state society also has impressive collections of original religious records from various Iowa organizations. The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and other educational institutions within the state have additional manuscript collections of church records.