[Follow Friday] : Concordia Historical Institute

Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis, Missouri; 2015.
Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis, Missouri; 2015.

The Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) is housed in Saint Louis, Missouri on the campus of Concordia Seminary. CHI should be on the radar for those researching ancestors in the Saginaw Valley’s Franconian settlements or other “German Lutheran” ancestors located throughout the United States. Why? CHI serves as the Department of Archives and History for The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). All of the Franconian settlements’ original Lutheran churches were early members of this denominational body which was originally known as the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States. Frankenmuth’s St. Lorenz Lutheran Church was one of the charter congregations when the synod formed in 1847.

CHI’s facilities include collections storage, a gallery, and a reading room for researchers. It maintains biographical records researched by staff and files on past and present pastors, teachers, missionaries and others who have served in the LCMS. Additional items of interest to genealogical researchers include various church records and minutes, copies of church sacramental records, photographs, and personal papers of men and women who served in the church. Even if you don’t have a Lutheran pastor or teacher in your genealogy, you may find mention of them in church records or a minister’s papers who served their congregations.

Concordia Historical Institute maintains a website with finding aids, contact and membership information. Membership in CHI includes access to its reading room, discounts on research services and receipt of its publications: the Historical Footnotes newsletter and the venerable Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly (CHIQ). Both the Historical Footnotes newsletter and  the CHIQ feature articles on Lutheran history. These have not infrequently included pieces containing information on Frankenmuth and the surrounding Franconian settlements. Sporadic back issues of Historical Footnotes are available on the CHI website.

Concordia_Seminary
Campus of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri; 2015.

I have made two research trips to CHI in the past three years, most recently in May. Each visit has turned up new and interesting and information to add to my family tree or flesh out the biographies of my ancestors and collateral relations. Examples of what I have found include biographical records, newspaper articles, photographs, birth and baptismal records, church minutes mentioning my ancestors and original letters written by long-deceased relations. Their most rewarding collection for me has been my maternal grandfather’s hand-written sermons spanning his career in the ministry. Sermons of exceptional interest include confirmations and marriages of relations, church milestones and celebrations, and funerals of his parishioners and friends. The funeral sermons also fascinatingly spanned the deaths of veterans and active-duty servicemen from America’s three major wars: the Civil War, World War I and World War II.

I never knew my mother’s father; he had died ten years before my birth. Our family was unaware that these papers were housed at CHI or even still in existence. Now, thanks to the preservation efforts of the Concordia Historical Institute, I have begun to know my grandfather.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “[Follow Friday] : Concordia Historical Institute

  1. Wow! Handwritten sermons… what a gift!

    My mom and I are researching a German church (well, her more than me). I don’t know that it was a Lutheran church, but worth checking. Thanks for highlighting this resource.

  2. You may also be interested in the research resources we have at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum in Altenburg, Missouri. You can visit our WordPress website at lutheranmuseum.com. Our research library is fairly new, but we have quickly come up with some pretty amazing resources. One of Frankenmuth’s first pastors, Ottomar Fuerbringer started as a teacher in the Log Cabin College here. I also try to do a fairly regular blog post having to do with Lutheran history on our website that may interest you.

    • Thanks for comment! I was hoping to visit the Lutheran Heritage Center when I was in Missouri last year but didn’t have the time. Hopefully I’ll make it there on a future trip! Thanks for the tip on your blog; I’m off to check it out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s