Prior to Washington County and city governments stored vital records, many people noted very important dates, events, and names in their family Bible. Family Bibles are important research tools. Although the dates can’t be guaranteed, Family Bibles are a tangible link with past generations.
From almost the very beginning of settlements in the Washington State area, both Protestants and Catholics could be found. Soon after that, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons and those of other faiths began to arrive in the area. In 1838, Presbyterians also settled in the area, which was known as Oregon territory at that time.
The first Protestant group to pop up to the east of the Cascade Mountains was the Methodist Episcopal Church. Methodists came to Seattle and Olympia in 1853 and they came to Vancouver even sooner than that, in 1848. Many of the records from the United Methodist Church are available at the Collins Memorial Library at the University of Puget Sound.
One of the largest and oldest religious groups in the state of Washington is the Roman Catholic Church. The Diocese of Yakima, the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Diocese of Spokane hold many of the major repositories of Catholic records for the area’s Roman Catholic groups and churches.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was based in Utah, sent missionaries to what is now the state of Washington way back in 1850. After that, several small groups of Mormons settled in the state. However, the Mormon missionaries really didn’t take hold in the area until the late 1800s. Now it is one of the largest religious groups in Washington. The FHL has microfilmed records for the missions and congregations.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is now known as the Community of Christ, came to the area in the 1800s as well. The FHL holds the records for the organization, which was originally based in Missouri.
The Seventh-day Adventists still have a strong presence in the state of Washington, which was still known as Washington Territory when they originally arrived, back in the 1860s.
The Diocese of Spokane and the Diocese of Olympia hold the records for the Episcopal Church, which came to Washington at Cathlamet in 1851. They started out in Portland and then began a mission outreach program.
When Scandinavians came to Puget Sound, the first Lutherans reached the area. There are many research papers and oral histories for the western Washington early Lutheran settlers located at the Pacific Lutheran University.