This guide describes information about religious statistics available from Andover-Harvard Theological Library and online through the Harvard Library. It is written for Harvard Library users and non-Harvard users interested in the types of information we can provide.
The sources mentioned here are only some of those available. For more information, contact a research librarian by email, by telephone, at 617.496.AHTL (2485), or in person.
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This guide was originally written by Christopher Walton, January 10, 1997. It was last modified by Clifford Wunderlich.
The most recent general statistical information about religious groups.
Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1973-. [Ref. BR513.Y42 (back issues in stacks)]
Contains statistical data based on reports from U.S. and Canadian denominations; in 1996, 99 U.S. and 49 Canadian religious bodies contributed data. Not every denomination reports annual figures, and each denomination determines its own statistical criteria. Detailed information is included only for religious groups which identify themselves as distinctively Christian; the yearbook is published under the auspices of the National Council of Churches of Christ. Reported data includes membership figures, financial contributions (both as percentage change from last year and as raw numbers), per capita contribution levels, and the number of congregations, clergy, and Sunday schools. The yearbook also tracks seminary enrollment, including tables for women and ethnic minorities from data supplied by the Association of Theological Schools.
Mead, Frank Spencer. Handbook of Denominations in the United States. New 10th ed. Revised by Samuel S. Hill. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1995. [Ref. BL2525.M425 1995 (back issues in stacks)]
An excellent general introduction to U.S. "denominations," including movements like Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Unitarian Universalism. Contains limited statistical information, including only the number of congregations and total membership based on data collected 1991-1993.
Melton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedia of American Religions. 6th ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999. [Ref. BL2525.M449 1999]
Includes descriptive entries on over 2,100 religious groups in North America, with historical information, current membership, and bibliographic references. The particular strengths of this encyclopedia are its attention to non-Christian religious groups and to new and small religious movements; it also includes descriptions of defunct religious movements of the recent past.
The World Almanac and Book of Facts. New York: Press Pub. Co. (The New York World), 1923-. [Ref. AY67.N5 W7 (current issue only)]
Summarizes information available in other sources. Includes membership figures gathered by the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches; continental distributions of world religions as tabulated by the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year; various religious calendars; and a current list of the North American members of the Roman Catholic College of Cardinals.
Available online in the "Reference" section of LexisNexis™ [Valid Harvard ID and PIN required.]
Britannica Book of the Year. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1938-. [Ref. AE5.E364 (Andover-Harvard has 1993-1996 only; search HOLLIS for locations of other years)]
Contains articles on significant annual developments in each major religious group. Also reports the continental distributions and national (U.S.) distributions of major religions. The World Data section includes religious affiliation statistics for each nation. Current data is available in the online version.
Religion in America. The Gallup Opinion Index. Princeton, N.J.: American Institute of Public Opinion. [Ref. BL2530.U6 R4 (back issues in stacks)]
Reports the results of ongoing polls of American religious beliefs and practices, with some interpretive commentary. This index tracks broad and general trends only.
Statistical information covering the last half-century, including comparative analysis, maps, and general trends.
Religious Congregations and Membership in the United States, 2000: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County, Based on Data Reported by 149 Religious Bodies. Nashville, Tenn.: Glenmary Research Center, 2002. [Ref. BR526.R485 2002]
Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1990: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County, Based on Data Reported for 133 Church Groupings. Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Reseach Center, 1992. [Ref. BR526.C48 1992]
Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1980: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County, Based on Data Reported by 111 Church Bodies. Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Research Center, 1982. [Ref. BR526.C48 1982]
Johnson, Douglas W. Churches and Church Membership in the United States: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County; 1971. Washington: Glenmary Research Center, . [Ref. BR526.C48 1971]
These four 10-year reports present national, state, and county statistics of "Judeo-Christian church bodies or groupings" (including groups which are not included in the National Council of the Churches of Christ's Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches); the report for 2000 includes some figures for other faith traditions. Each identifies the number of congregations, members, and total adherents of each denomination at each geographical level, and also presents the percentage of adherents in a particular communion to the total population and the percentage of adherents in a particular communion to the total religious adherents at each geographical level. Since each denomination determines its figures differently, variations in denominational reporting methods are described. See especially Atlas of Religious Change in America, 1952-1990,Ref. G1201.E4 H3 1994, which presents this same data visually and provides interpretive commentary.
Churches and Church Membership in the United States; An Enumeration and Analysis by Counties, States and Regions. New York: National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Bureau of Research and Survey, 1956-58. [Ref. BR526.C48 1956]
A serial publication which presents the data collected for U.S. church membership in 1952 by the National Council of Churches. Unlike the census reports through 1936, which collected data from individual congregations directly, this study gathered information from 114 religious organizations and denominations representing 182,856 individual churches and 74 million members. The data are presented in serial form: Ser. A:no.1-4, "Major Faiths by Regions, Divisions, and States"; B:no.1-8, "Denominational Statistics by Regions, Divisions, and States"; C:no.1-59, "Denominational Statistics by States and Counties"; D:no.1-6, "Denominational Statistics by Metropolitan Areas"; E:no.1-3, "Socioeconomic Characteristics."
Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Edited by Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West. 5 vols. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA; Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1996. [Ref. E185.E54 1996 vol. 5]
See Appendix 13 (pp. 3041-3046 in Volume 5) for a section on statistics concerning predominantly black denominations. Two tables present information from the 1890, 1916, and 1936 census reports. Additional tables present statistical trends in a variety of denominations using information drawn from several different sources, for the periods 1950-1975 and 1976-1993. A final set of tables presents information about racially mixed denominations.
Kosmin, Barry Alexander. Research Report: The National Survey of Religious Identification, 1989-90: (Selected Tabulations). [New York: Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York], 1991. [Pamph. folio v. 2025]
This 14-page document reports selected findings of a 1989-1990 telephone survey of 113,000 adults in the continental United States. The report gives weighted estimates of self-identified adherents of various religions (which can be contrasted in interesting ways with the membership counts provided in the preceding studies by official church groups). Other data include marital status, educational level, social characteristics, racial identification, household size, political party affiliation, and ethnic origins for selected religions. The study also reports the religious compositions of state populations.
O'Brien, Joanne. The State of Religion Atlas. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. [Ref G1046.E4 O2 1993]
Thirty-four fascinating maps present a wide variety of contemporary religious statistics. Examples include: the locations and audiences of religious broadcasts; the extent of Islamic banking practices worldwide (since the Qur'an forbids charging or taking interest); the impact of the Holocaust on European Jewish populations, combined with the extent of contemporary anti-Semitic incidents in Europe; and the prominence of feminine figures of religious devotion in the world's religions. Brief descriptive essays at the back provide additional information about the maps, but the maps themselves are immediately accessible and quite interesting.
Halvorson, Peter L. Atlas of Religious Change in America, 1952-1990. Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Research Center, 1994. [Ref. G1201.E4 H3 1994]
Provides especially useful cartographic representations of religious adherence statistics between 1952 and 1990, using data collected in the Glenmary Research Center's Churches and Church Membership in the United States series (1971, 1980, 1990). Three maps for each denomination portray membership statistics by county, showing (1) 1990 totals, (2) the percentage change between 1980 and 1990, and (3) the share of population in 1990. Two additional maps are included for denominations which participated in the 1952 study as well as in the three later reports: the first depicts the changes in membership prior to 1971 compared to changes since 1971; the second depicts changes in a denomination's share of county population, again using 1971 as a midpoint. Each set of maps includes a helpful interpretive essay. [For earlier data, see Edwin Scott Gaustad, Historical Atlas of Religion in America, rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), Ref. G1201.E4 G3 1976].]
Rosten, Leo Calvin, ed. Religions of America: Ferment and Faith in an Age of Crisis: A New Guide and Almanac. [Expanded version of the work first published in 1955 as A Guide to the Religions of America; and in 1963 as Religions in America.] New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975. [672 p.; 22 cm.] [Ref. BR516.5.R67 1975]
Part Two of this volume contains a "comprehensive collection of facts, events, opinion polls, statistics, analyses, and essays on the problems and crises confronting churches today" (--Table of Contents). The material presented originally appeared in a variety of sources, including some of the sources listed above. However, the range of topics is broad -- including statistics on "traditional" religious topics such as belief in heaven and hell as well as studies of religious attitudes on many contemporary social controversies -- and the commentary is often helpful. Provides an interesting look at American religion in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Part One presents topical summaries of the religious beliefs and "credos" of various religious groups in the United States.)
Statistics on American religious groups from the colonial period through the early twentieth century.
Rupp, Israel Daniel. Religious Denominations in the United States, Their Past History, Present Condition, and Doctrines, Accurately Set Forth in Fifty-three . . . Articles Written by Eminent Clerical and Lay Authors . . . Together with Complete and Well-digested Statistics. To Which Is Added a Historical Summary of Religious Denominations in England and Scotland. Philadelphia: Charles Desilver, 1861. Reprint. Communal Societies in America: An AMS Reprint Series. New York: AMS Press, 1975. [Ref. BR516.5.R46 1975]
Depending on the denomination, statistical information may be fairly complete or merely conjectural for the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Each of the 53 essays includes some statistical information; the most thorough statistical summaries appear on pp. 637-656 (for Baptists, New School Presbyterians, Old School Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Evangelical Lutherans, Methodist Episcopalians, Jews, Evangelical German Reformed, Reformed Protestant Dutch, Roman Catholic, United Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Universalist groups).
Report on Statistics of Churches in the United States at the Eleventh Census: 1890. [Reports of the Eleventh Census of the United States, 1890; 9]. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894. [folio BR525.A3 1890a]
A comprehensive government survey of American religious bodies in 1890, including "every church of denomination having organizations with members or communicants." Summaries are provided by state or territory, county, and city, by denomination and denominational family, and for "colored organizations." Includes number of edifices and halls, seating capacity, value of church property, communicants or members, and organizations and denominations. [The fifteen Census Bulletins which originally presented the data collected here are bound in one volume and can be found in the stacks under BR525.A3 1890, Census Bulletin: Statistics of Churches (Washington, D.C.: United States Census Office, 1890).]
[folio BR525.A3 1906a v.1-2] United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1906. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910.
Presents the results of the federal government's 1906 census, which covers the following features of American religious bodies: denomination, ecclesiastical division, organization, geographical location, date of establishment, number of edifices, seating capacity, value of church property, amount of debt on the church, value of parsonage, languages in which services are conducted, the number of ministers and their salaries, the number of communicants or members (total and divided by sex), and organization and membership of Sunday schools. The first volume summarizes the survey data at the national, state or territorial, and city levels; it also provides a general overview of Sunday schools, the professional ministry, and special characteristics (such as language, date of establishment, and African American religious organizations). The rest of the first volume is dedicated to analysis of each feature studied in the census. Volume Two focuses on each denomination, providing statistical information along with essays about denominational history, doctrine, polity, and activity.
United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1916. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1919. [folio BR525.A3 1916 v.1-2]
Follows the same general format as the 1906 census, with a few notable additions, including information about church expenditures and greater detail concerning professional ministers.
United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1926. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1929-30 [v. 1, 1930]. [BR525.A3 1926 v.1-2]
Presents the results of the 1926 federal census. Includes the following statistics: number of churches, church members, edifices and parsonages, value of property and debt, local expenditures and benevolences, missions, denominational support, and Sunday schools. The 1926 census distinguishes between rural and urban churches for the first time. Includes comparisons of 1926 census data to earlier census reports, revealing trends in the number of churches, church membership, Sunday-school scholars, the value of edifices, and changes in expenditures.
United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1936. Selected Statistics for the United States by Denominations and Geographic Divisions. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1941. BR525.A3 1936a]
Contains summaries of census data for 1936; this volume should be used with Religious Bodies, 1936, BR525.A3 1936b.
Religious Bodies, 1936. Washington: U.S. G.P.O.: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., 1941. [Ref. BR525.A3 1936b v.1-2:pt.1-2 (also stacks)]
Reports on 256 denominations and independent or federated churches, with data from the 1936 federal census. "This report deals primarily with the number, distribution, denominational affiliation, membership, church property, expenditures for the year, and Sunday School enrollment of . . . local churches" (17). Continues the comparative analysis with earlier census reports begun in 1926, and expands the type of data collected on church expenditures.
Carroll, Henry K. The Religious Forces of the United States: Enumerated, Classified, and Described on the Basis of the Government Census of 1890; With an Introduction on the Condition and Character of American Christianity. The American Church History Series. Volume 1. New York: Christian Literature Co., 1893. Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International, 1982. [Ref. BR515.A5 1982 v. 1]
Carroll, Henry K. The Religious Forces of the United States Enumerated, Classified, and Described: Returns for 1900 and 1910 Compared with the Government Census of 1890: Condition and Characteristics of Christianity in the United States. Rev. and brought down to 1910. New York: Charles Scribner, 1912. Microfiche. Evanston, Ill.: American Theological Library Association, 1989.[Mfiche ATLA 1988-0331]
These volumes organize and summarize the census figures for American religious groups from the 1890 census; the second edition compares census figures from 1900 and 1910 to the 1890 data. The author helpfully describes key differences between denominations, and organizes them into families by confession and polity. General summaries are presented by state, by denomination and denominational families, by size of group, by polity, by race, and by urban size.
Gaustad, Edwin Scott. Historical Atlas of Religion in America. Rev. ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1976. Ref. G1201.E4 G3 1976]
A study of the geography of American religion, divided into into the periods 1650-1800 and 1800-1975. The first section studies the growth in the number of churches in eight denominational groups prior to 1800. The second section studies the growth between 1800 and 1975 of the colonial bodies and three significant post-colonial groups (Methodists, Mormons, and Disciples), including data on the total membership as well as the number of churches. The effects of immigration and ethnicity on the religious constitution of the nation receive some particular attention. The third section studies thirteen additional religious groups in the 1800-1975 period. The fourth section pays particular attention to American Indians, Jews, and African Americans in American religious history. The section on American Indians, for instance, includes maps of Indian missions and charts and maps showing the changes in population and the location of Indian reservations. Attention is also given to Alaska and Hawaii and the particular characteristics of religious geography in those states. [For more detailed analysis of the period 1952-1990, see also Peter L. Halvorson, Atlas of Religious Change in America, 1952-1990. (Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Research Center, 1994), Ref. G1201.E4 H3 1994.]
The Andover-Harvard Library holds current denominational and general statistical information about several religious traditions.
Yearbook of the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. Valley Forge, Pa.: American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. [Ref. BX6207.A3 1997]
Contains a summary of denominational statistics by region, including membership, baptisms, church school enrollment, and expenses.
Year book of the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. [Mass.]: TABCOM, 1969- [Ref. BX6248.M32]
Includes tabulations of data by regional associations, listed by congregation.
Church of the Brethren. Yearbook. Elgin, Ill.: Church of the Brethren General Board, 1982- [Ref. BX7807.C51]
Although the cover of this volume promises statistical information, the 1994 edition did not actually include any.
See also United Church of Christ
National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. Yearbook. Oak Creek, Wis.: The Association, 1972/73-[Ref. BX7113.N3]
Contains most recent statistics for each congregation, including membership, attendance, church school enrollment, and benevolences and expenses.
The Episcopal Church Annual. Wilton, Conn. [etc.] Morehouse-Barlow [etc.], 1953- [Ref. BX5830.L785]
Includes a general summary of current statistics; provincial summaries; and a table comparing statistics in five-year increments beginning 1850, and in annual increments beginning 1975.
Society of Friends. New England Yearly Meeting. Minutes of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. South Portland, Maine: New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1945- [Ref. BX7607.N3 A3]
Basic statistics provided for each local Meeting.
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. Yearbook. New York, 1984- [Ref. BX240.N63]
Includes limited statistical reports in the Registry of the Archdiocese section of the yearbook.
Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. Brooklyn, N. Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1927- [Ref. BX8525.Y47 current]
Includes a statistical section, with particular emphasis on tract distribution. Information arrangement varies by year.
American Jewish Year Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society; New York: American Jewish Committee, 1900- [Ref. E184.J5 A6]
See Vol. 92 (1992; shelved in stacks) for a lengthy study of American Jewish demographics, "Profile of American Jewry: Insights from the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey"; the essay begins p.77, with tables beginning p.143. Revised figures are provided in Vol. 93 (1993) in the essay, "Jewish Population in the United States, 1992," p.192.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Yearbook. Minneapolis, Minn.: Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1988- [Ref. BX8009.A6 Current]
Provides statistics by congregation, by synod, and in summary.
Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. Lutheran Annual. St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Pub. House, 1967- [Ref. BX8009.L83 Current]
This includes an especially valuable section which compares statistics from 18 Lutheran denominations. Also provides Missouri Synod statistics organized by district, by state, and by decade.
Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. Statistical Yearbook. Concordia, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House. [Ref. BX8061.M7 A32]
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. New England Synod. Assembly Minutes. Worcester, Mass.: New England Synod, ELCA, 1988- [Ref. BX8061.N48 E92 Current]
Most recent statistical data is arranged by congregation and includes membership and financial information.
Directory: Lutheran Churches in Canada. [Winnipeg]: Division of Information Services, Lutheran Council in Canada.[Ref. BX8063.C2 D56]
Basic statistics are presented as a centerfold chart.
Yearbook of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Winnipeg, Man.: Office of the Secretary, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, 1986- [Ref. BX8063.C2 E8]
Congregational statistics are arranged by province. Also includes summaries of national and provincial data.
Mennonite World Handbook. "A survey of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches." Lombard, Ill.: Mennonite World Conference. [Ref. BX8107.M38]
Includes a statistical section.
Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1910- [Ref. BX8107.M45]
Includes an interesting range of statistics: tabulations of the number of congregations in different size communities; primary ethnic bodies in Mennonite conferences; ages of adherents in Mennonite conferences; youth and student statistics; and a full range of more typical statistical information about congregational size, regional distribution, and financial contributions and expenses.
Conference of Mennonites in Canada. Yearbook. Winnipeg, 1966- [Ref. BX8129.C66 A1]
Includes congregational statistics by province.
United Methodist Church (U.S.). General Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church. Evanston, Ill.: General Council, 1968- [Ref. BX8382.2.A1 U57b]
Includes extensive statistical information.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). General Assembly. Minutes. Office of the General Assembly, 1983- . Issued in two parts: pt. 1. Journal (Proceedings); pt. 2. Statistics. [Mflm. Period 5182 vol., year: pt.2]
Although the current issue of pt.1 (Minutes of the General Assembly) is shelved in Ref. BX8969.2 A1 vol., year: pt.1, the statistical volume is held only in microfilm. Statistical tables are provided for each congregation, arranged by presbytery. Summaries appear by presbytery and by synod. The volume also includes comparative statistics and statistical analysis. Among the financial data included are complete tables of staff compensation for all governing bodies (i.e., presbyteries, synods, and the General Assembly).
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. General Assembly. Minutes. Memphis, Tenn.: Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1831- [Ref. BX8971.C8]
Statistics can be found in the Report of the Stated Clerk.
Church of Scotland. Year Book. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1966- [Ref. BX9076.A3]
Includes a section on congregational statistics.
Reformed Church in America. General Synod. The Acts and Proceedings of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America. New York : Board of Publication of the Reformed Church, 1868- [Ref. BX9518.A13]
The Appendix volume ("Directory and Financial Statements") includes congregational statistics, which are arranged by synod and subdivided by classis. A general summary is included.
The Official Catholic Directory. New York: P. J. Kennedy, 1913- [Ref. BX845.C5]
A General Summary of annual statistics, arranged by diocese, can be found at the end of the Index of Institutions. A Statistical Overview is included with the directory entry for each diocese.
Catholic Almanac. Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1969- [Ref. AY81.R6 N3]
Refer to the index entry for "Statistics." Includes a variety of figures, with separate sections on world Catholicism, Catholicism in Canada, and Catholicism in the United States. [Latest ed. 1996.]
Unitarian Universalist Association. Directory. Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1962- [Ref. folio BX9811.U45]
Includes a statistical summary, which compares figures for the last several years, and a map showing the number of congregations and members in each state or province. Statistics are also included by congregation.
United Church of Canada. Year Book and Directory. Toronto, 1989- [Ref. BX9881.A15 U5]
Includes an extensive statistical section, with an explanatory essay.
United Church of Christ. Massachusetts Conference. Directory and Minutes of the ... Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ. [Mass.] : The Conference, 1980- [Ref. BX7108.M3 A3]
Includes limited congregational data, with a summary of the number of churches, ministers, members, and benevolent contributions.
United Church of Christ. Year Book. New York, N.Y. : The Church, 1962- . [Ref. BX9884.A1 U55]
The Directory of Local Churches includes congregational statistics, with summary tables and comparative historical totals at the end of the section.
"Adherents.com is a growing collection of over 43,870 adherent statistics and religious geography citations: references to published membership/adherent statistics and congregation statistics for over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc. The religions of the world are enumerated here."
—Adherents.com home page, retrieved July 27, 2006.
"The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) strives to democratize access to the best data on religion. Founded as the American Religion Data Archive in 1997 and going online in 1998, the initial archive was targeted at researchers interested in American religion. The targeted audience and the data collection have both greatly expanded since 1998, now including American and international collections and developing features for educators, journalists, religious congregations, and researchers. Data included in the ARDA are submitted by the foremost religion scholars and research centers in the world. Currently housed in the Social Science Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University, the ARDA is funded by the Lilly Endowment, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Pennsylvania State University."
—About the ARDA, retrieved July 27, 2006.
The Hartford Institute for Religion Research (HIRR) "offers links to information that can help make the general public, and especially religious leaders, better consumers of poll and survey data."
—HIRR Statistics and Poll Data, retrieved July 27, 2006.