Baptism and Confirmation Information in Early Records Research Guide
Church membership records vary greatly in content. They may contain the individual’s name; birth date and place; baptism and confirmation dates, along with the officiator’s name; marriage and death dates; and sometimes priesthood ordination dates. These records were not standardized until the 1870s, when preprinted books with designated columns were distributed. Even with standardized documentation, some clerks were more conscientious record keepers than others.
A large percentage of the Church’s membership record books from throughout the world were microfilmed in the 1960s–1970s. Copies of the microfilms are available for research at both the Church History and Family History Libraries. The Church History Library houses the most comprehensive collection of membership records. Membership records acquired after the 1960s–1970s microfilming project are available only at the Church History Library; they are listed in the library’s online catalog under the name of the branch or ward.
Beginning in 1907, the Church required an annual statistical and genealogical report to be submitted from branches, wards, and missions. The ward report was designated and nicknamed Form E, and the mission report was nicknamed Form 42-FP. The Form E and 42-FP reports cover the years 1907–1976.
The reports listed the names of individuals in the ward, branch, or mission and when they were born, blessed as children, baptized, or confirmed; received priesthood ordinations; married or divorced; departed for or returned from missions; and died. (When searching for information in the reports, be flexible and creative with spellings of names. There are many transcription errors.)
The following are the major Church History Library collections of membership records:
Record of members collection, 1836–1970 (CR 375 8)
Included in this group of records are the annual Form E and 42-FP reports that were initiated in 1907 and submitted annually by branches, wards, and missions to Church headquarters. Form E reports were submitted by a stake’s branches and wards, and 42-FP reports were submitted by a mission’s branches. Remote digital access may be granted on a use/need basis. Contact us through the Ask Us form for more information.
Annual membership reports, 1971–1976 (CR 375 2 1971-76)
These records are a continuation of the Form E and 42-FP reports but were renamed Transcript Record of Members reports (1971–1972) and Ordinance and Action Records (1973–1976). Available upon request at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
Deceased member records, 1941–1988 July 31 (CR 298 7)
From 1941 until July 1988, deceased Church members’ membership records were sent to the Church Historian’s Office for filing. These records typically include details regarding priesthood ordinations and can assist in tracing a priesthood line of authority. Available upon request at the Church History Library. Also available at the Family History Library.
Other records are listed in the Church History Catalog under the name of the branch or ward. Records acquired after the mass microfilming project of the 1960s–1970s have been cataloged separately and are not found in the collections listed above.
You can also search the Family History Library’s online catalog for membership records. A published list of the Family History Library’s membership records holdings with corresponding microfilm call numbers is found in Laureen R. Jaussi and Gloria D. Chaston’s Register of Genealogical Society Call Numbers, Volume 2. Available upon request at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
Other institutions that collect Latter-day Saint materials also house scattered collections of membership records and congregational minute books: Utah State University, Weber State University, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Utah State Historical Society, University of Utah, Brigham Young University, and Southern Utah University.
This is an index to a partial list of Church members living in Kirtland, Ohio, and nearby areas in the 1830s. It was compiled by Milton V. Backman Jr., Keith Perkins, and Susan Easton Black. The lists in this volume suggest that the individuals mentioned were members of the Church, but there is no baptismal information included. This record can provide clues about where individuals were living during the Kirtland period. Available upon request at the Church History Library.
Membership records from the Nauvoo area are sparse and incomplete, and there are no comprehensive indexes of the Nauvoo Era. You can search the Church History Catalog by the name of a ward or branch to determine if records exist. Few baptismal dates are included, but these records can provide clues about where individuals were living during the Nauvoo period.
This collection of information hosted by the Family History Library lists many of the members of the Church who were baptized between 1830 and 1848, with an emphasis on Church members in Nauvoo. This collection was primarily compiled from secondary and tertiary sources; it is a good place to start one’s research, but it should not be considered authoritative. Also available upon request at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City (M270 E13m v. 1–50 1984–1988).
Nauvoo Seventies List (M270 N314 199–? v. 1–3)
This is a three-volume resource listing members of Quorums of the Seventy who were called or ordained from 1835 to 1850. Many records of the Seventy and high priests quorums contain original baptism and confirmation dates. The volumes are located in the reference area at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. Ask a staff member for assistance.
Seventies’ Autobiographies (M270 S497 199–?)
This is a compilation of brief autobiographies written by Nauvoo-era members of Quorums of the Seventy. Although all Seventies were asked to submit a bio, only a few did. Some of them include baptism and confirmation dates. It is located behind the reference desk at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. Ask a staff member for assistance.
Iowa Branch Index (M277.771 W346i 1991)
This index compiled by Ronald G. Watt contains information on individuals who lived in the Council Bluffs area from 1846 to the early 1850s. Many early baptismal dates (and some children’s blessings) are recorded in the membership records of that era.
The Iowa Branch Index identifies the branch in which the individuals resided. You can use the index to locate the branch and other local unit records in the Church History Library’s online catalog and examine the records to see if more extensive information was recorded.
Note: The index contains entries for approximately 7,000 individuals—a fraction of the estimated number of Latter-day Saints who lived in or passed through that area from the mid-1840s to the 1850s.
This is a reconstructed index created by the Church History Department to the wards in Winter Quarters during the exodus and westward movement. It lists basic information about household composition. It is not comprehensive.
There is no master index available for determining the local unit where an individual lived in the Utah period. For Utah and Intermountain West locations, you can use United States census records (1850–1940) to narrow down where an individual lived. In the earliest Utah censuses of populous cities like Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden, and so forth, the census enumeration district boundaries sometimes corresponded with Latter-day Saint ward boundaries.
Note: The 1890 United States census was burned in a fire and is not available for most United States locations, including Utah.
City directories can also be consulted to determine residential addresses in parts of Utah. City directories are available at the Church History Library.
- Salt Lake City Directory, including a Business Directory, of Provo, Springville, and Ogden, Utah Territory (979.2251 S176 1867)
- Utah Gazetteer and Directory of Logan, Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake Cities, for 1884 (979.205 U89g 1874–1925)
- Ogden City Directory (979.2281 O34 1883–1987)
- Salt Lake City Directory (979.2251 S176 1893–)
- Provo City and Utah County Directory (979.2241 P969 1902)
- Additional directories may be available for research at other libraries and archives.
Once you find a pre-1900 directory in the Salt Lake City area, you can consult a ward boundary map of the city (compiled around 1885).
Rebaptisms in Great Salt Lake Valley: 1847–1854 (M234.3 W344r 2003)
Many members were rebaptized and reconfirmed either immediately before immigrating to the United States or soon after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, as a sign of their renewed commitment to the Church.
This index records basic information about Church members who were baptized and rebaptized in the Salt Lake Valley between 1847 and 1854. It is located at the Church History Library, in the reference area. Ask a staff member for assistance.
This website hosted by the University of Utah is a database containing information on early black Latter-day Saints from 1830 to 1940. It provides baptism dates (when known), links to primary sources, and a comprehensive time line.