Genealogical Resources in the BGC Archives
The BGC Archives contains many resources for genealogists and family historians whose ancestors were involved in the work of Christian evangelism or foreign missions, especially during the twentieth century. These resources include correspondences, diaries, personnel and membership files, periodicals, microfilm collections, oral history interviews, photographs, photo albums, and more.
In 2002, Reference Archivist Wayne Weber gave a lecture on the kind of genealogical resources that could be found in the BGC Archives' holdings.
Please note: The BGC Archives does not collect denominational records. Anyone searching for congregational records, such birth, baptism, marriage, or membership records for a specific denomination should contact the appropriate denominational archives.
Records of Organizations
The Archives has the files of dozens of parachurch evangelistic and missions organizations. While many of these agencies can have branches in various different countries, the BGC Archives focuses on North American or United States branch records. The staff files from these organizations are a valuable resource to genealogists, as they contain information such as service applications, field reports, travel information, medical records, mission station and furlough listings, biographical sketches, and more.
Some collections of major organizations which hold personnel records are:
- Collection 81: Records of Africa Inland Mission (AIM)
- Collection 236: Records of Latin America Mission (LAM)
- Collection 136: Records of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)
- Collection 215: Records of Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF, formerly China Inland Mission)
- Collection 379: Records of the Woman's Union Missionary Society (WUMS)
- Collection 48: Records of Youth for Christ (YFC)
Record samples from some of the above organizations:
- AIM - Laura Collins' application, 26 November 1906
- MAF - Article about George Fisk being shipwrecked while traveling to Borneo in 1946
- OMF - Report on Mrs. Young's health in the China Council Minutes, 12 October 1920
- OMF - Theodore & Olive Fischbacher's personnel card
- WUMS - Dr. Elizabeth Reifsynder's photograph
If you are searching for an ancestor or relative who served with Overseas Missionary Fellowship or Africa Inland Mission, please consult our Genealogist's Guide to OMF & AIM.
Some organizational materials are only on microfilm. The records of the American Home Missionary Society, for example, includes correspondence with hundreds of missionaries from the nineteenth century, documenting their efforts to found churches on the American frontier. Missionary correspondences and reports are also in the records of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the American Sunday School Union.
Sample documents from microfilm collections:
- ABCFM - Mrs. Ann Dana's letter about her retirement from the mission, 8 August 1853
- AHMS - Missionary Table, 1878
- AHMS - Ole Andrewson's report mentioning the members of his family, 4 March 1858
- ASSU - L. Milton Marsh's letter describing his "Sabbath" activities, 29 October 1859
Records of Moody Church
The BGC Archives holds the records of Moody Church, a large, independent Chicago-area church extensively involved in evangelistic and foreign mission activities. These records span 1864-1987 and include extensive membership lists, newsletters, photos, and other items of genealogical interest.
Sample documents from the Records of Moody Church:
- Application for Church Membership
- Certificate of Reception
- Letter requesting transfer of church membership
- Death Register
- Membership card
If you are searching for an ancestor or relative whose marriage was performed at Moody Church, please consult the Moody Church Marriage Register.
Each collection guide in the BGC Archives contains a biographical sketch of the individuals or organizations related to the collection. These brief sketches are compiled by the Archives’ staff as they process the collection and can include valuable information such as birth and death dates, family and educational background, conversion dates, missions postings, furloughs, work experience, etc.