Oklahoma Church Records

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This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott Ph.D., FUGA for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Oklahoma Family History Research series.
History of Oklahoma
Oklahoma Vital Records
Census Records for Oklahoma
Background Sources for Oklahoma
Oklahoma Maps
Oklahoma Land Records
Oklahoma Probate Records
Oklahoma Court Records
Oklahoma Tax Records
Oklahoma Cemetery Records
Oklahoma Church Records
Oklahoma Military Records
Oklahoma Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Oklahoma Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Ethnic Groups of Oklahoma
Oklahoma County Resources
Map of Oklahoma

A Methodist Church was organized at Pecan Point, in present-day McCurtain County, in 1818. It was the first Protestant Church in the territory. Prior to statehood the largest numbers of citizens were Baptist, Roman Catholic, Disciples of Christ, or Methodist. Church records are among the most difficult to locate sources in Oklahoma. Some are on microfilm at the Oklahoma Historical Society; others are maintained by members of the congregation and are housed in private homes rather than in church repositories. Still others are stored in the respective church. Some church records are deposited in the denominations' archives. A Historical Records Survey inventory was created relating to various church records in the counties. See Works Projects Administration, Historical Records Survey. Preliminary List of Churches and Religious Organizations in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Historical Records Survey, 1942); and Oklahoma Historical Society. Establishing Churches in the Cherokee Nation, 1866'1908. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1976.

The Chronicles of Oklahoma (see Oklahoma Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections) frequently publishes articles concerning specific churches or denominations. An example is Walter N. Vernon, 'Methodist Beginnings Among Southwest Oklahoma Indians,' The Chronicles of Oklahoma 58 (1980): 392-411.

Numerous missions provided through the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Moravian churches were established to serve Native Americans. Both teachers and missionaries constituted part of the nonnative population in Indian Territory. Some records are on microfilm in the Archives and Manuscript Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Others are maintained by denominational archives.

Records for Methodists, Catholics, and Baptists are housed in state facilities:

United Methodist, Box 1138, Bristow, OK 74010.

Roman Catholic Chancery Office, 7501 N.W. Expressway, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.

Oklahoma Baptist University Library, Shawnee, OK 74801. Privately funded, the library collection contains some materials and histories of the Baptist Church.

Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma City, OK 73106. Founded in 1911 at Guthrie, it is affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. After uniting with Epworth University, it was relocated to Oklahoma City.

Other church headquarters outside the state for denominations in Oklahoma include:

Southern Baptist Convention, 901 Commerce St. #750, Nashville, TN 37203.

Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1101 Nineteenth Ave., South, Nashville, TN 37212.

See also the following works:

  • Burke, Bob. Like a Prairie Fire: A History of the Assemblies of God in Oklahoma. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God, 1994.
  • England, Stephen J. Oklahoma Christians: A History of Christian Churches and of the Start of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma. N.p.: Bethan Press, 1975.
  • Gaskin, J. M. Baptist Ministers in Oklahoma. N.p., 1966.
  • Heiss, Willard C., William Wade Hinshaw, and Jeremiah Hubbard. Hinshaw & Hubbard Oklahoma Quaker Records: Cherokee Monthly Meeting, New Hope Monthly Meeting, Siloam Monthly Meeting, Vera Monthly Meeting, Wyandotte Monthly Meeting and Marriages by J. Hubbard. Kokomo, Ind.: Selby, 1991.
  • McKee, Wilma. Growing Faith: General Conference Mennonites in Oklahoma. Newton, Kans.: Faith and Life Press, 1988.
  • Routh, F. C. The Story of Oklahoma Baptists. Oklahoma City: Baptist General Convention, 1932.
  • West, C. W. Missions and Missionaries of Indian Territory. Muskogee, Okla.: Muskegee Publishing, 1990.