Lutheran Archives gathers and tells the stories of God at work through Lutherans in Australia – the stories of the departments, the congregations and the people. Lutheran Archives preserves those stories and makes them accessible to the Lutheran Church and the wider community through documents, artefacts, photographs and books of the present church and the earlier Lutheran synods which have since amalgamated.
Lutheran contingents first came to Australia in 1837, 1838 and 1841 from eastern Prussia in search of religious freedom – they were Australia’s first refugees. At the same time Lutheran missionaries arrived to work among Aboriginal peoples in Queensland and South Australia.
Many Prussian/German Lutherans followed as migrants, settling initially in the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley (SA), Victoria, southern New South Wales and south-east Queensland.
Bringing God’s word to Aboriginal Australians was important to Lutherans, and missions were established in southern and central Australia, Queensland, New Zealand and in New Guinea.
Ministries beyond worship and congregational life encompass social welfare, media and Christian education.
The Lutheran Archives collection is comprised of congregation records from all around Australia. It covers the records of national and district agencies and departments of the church, including New Guinea mission records and some New Zealand material. We hold significant collections of bibles, Luther’s works and other religious books, as well as artefacts and photographs.
Our records cover significant themes in the history of Australia, including:
- CHURCH HISTORY congregations, church ministries, departments and organisations
- FAMILY HISTORY through parish registers of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials
- ABORIGINAL languages, culture and history in comprehensive and detailed mission records
- REFUGEE AND MIGRATION HISTORY 19th century and post-WWII
- SETTLEMENT AND LOCAL HISTORY through congregation records and registers which document the settlement of Lutherans in newly opened rural areas
- LUTHERAN SCHOOLING in history of education
- GERMAN-AUSTRALIAN language, traditions, media and cultrual life – ‘Deutschtum’
You can carry out research in person at our archvies, or contact our staff by phone or email with your research enquiries.
Genealogy and family history research
The parish registers contain information on births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths and burials of people who were associated with the Lutheran Church. These are extremely valuable for family history research. To assist researchers a Church Records Computer Database Index has been prepared. A printout of the surname provides the researcher with an index to entries with that surname in the parish registers. This enables the researcher to quickly locate those records which may be useful. There is an additional charge for this service.
German language and translation
Up to the 1920s most of the records were written or printed in German. Handwritten German records can be rather difficult to read, so assistance is provided where possible. Some documents may be available in English translation. Additional translation from German can be undertaken for a fee.
A selection of family history books and church history books are available for purchase.
- Family history books - English surnames
- Family history books - German surnames
- General books for sale (2015) - including church history, congregation histories, fiction, mission, schools
Photos in the Archives collection can be scanned for a fee.
Researchers may request photocopies of documents. This will be done by the Archives staff, subject to the physical condition of the documents and to copyright legislation.
- Individual research: $15 per half day ($30 per day)
- Pensioners & Students: $10 per half day
- Archives Staff Research: $60 per hour (eg written enquiries)
- Computer printout of surnames in church records database: $4 per surname, plus $1 per page
Scope of collection
Records from Lutheran synods [read more]
- Kavel-Fritzsche Synod (1838-1846)
- Langmeil-Light Pass Synod (1846-1874)
- Bethany-Lobethal Synod (1846-1863)
- Victoria Synod (1856-1921)
- Tanunda-Light Pass Synod (1860-1874)
- Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Australia (ELSA) (1863-1944)
- Immanuel Synod (1874-1921)
- General Synod (1876-1921)
- Immanuel Synod a.a.G. (1884-1921)
- Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Queensland (ELSQ) (1885-1921)
- United German & Scandinavian Lutheran Synod of Qld (1885-1921)
- ELSA a.a.G (1904-1926)
- United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia (UELCA) (1921-1966)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA) (1944-1966)
- Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) (1966-)
Types of records [read more]
- Official histories of the Lutheran churches in Australia
- Church departmental records
- Church convention reports
- Church almanacs and yearbooks
- Church statistical records
- Church periodicals (Australian, US, German etc)
- Congregation histories and records
- Parish registers
- Parish papers
- Biographical records of pastors and Lutheran teachers
- Family history books
- Mission magazines
- Some shipping lists (SA, 1837-1870)
- Special collections (Bibles, hymnbooks, catechisms, sermon books, devotion books, theology)
- Photographs (churches, schools, missions, pastors, teachers)
- Maps and atlases
Congregation Records - Guidelines
This document provides information on what records congregations should keep, and how to protect them.
Click here to download.
Friends of Lutheran Archives
The Friends of Lutheran Archives (FoLA) is a group whose goal is to encourage the collection and preservation of archival material and to promote the work of the Lutheran Archives. Become a Friend of the Lutheran Archives. Email FoLA firstname.lastname@example.org for information, subscription rates, publications, outings, etc. Read more about FoLA
When war broke out in August 1914, Lutheran leaders were quick to declare that their loyalty was with Australia, not with the German homeland of their ancestors. The statements of these leaders have been gathered from church and secular papers into the article, 'Lutheran Loyalty' (December 2014):
Don't miss this regular column in The Lutheran, which tells fascinating stories about the history of our church. Read or download one of the our most popular Stepping Stones stories, 'The travelling trowel' (Word) (PDF)
Please support us
Contact us or visit us
Rachel Kuchel, BA(Hons), Grad Dip Information Studies, Grad Dip Sc (Archives & Records)
Janette Lange, BA, Grad Dip Ed (Sec), Dip Led
27 Fourth Street, Bowden SA 5007
Phone 08 8340 4009
- Tram: In King William Street or North Terrace, catch the tram to the Entertainment Centre at Hindmarsh. Cross Port Road and walk south to Gibson Street and then north-east to Fourth Street. Note: this is a FREE service.
- Rail: At the Adelaide Railway Station catch the Grange train and alight at the Bowden station. Walk south to Gibson Street, then north-east to Fourth Street.
- Bus: Catch number 150, 155 or 157 in North Terrace in the city and alight at Stop 6. Cross Port Road and walk south to Gibson Street and then north-east to Fourth Street. (Alternate route via Ward Street, North Adelaide: Catch number 250, 251 or 252 in King William Street in the city and alight at Stop 9 on Hawker Street. Walk south-west along Gibson Street to Fourth Street.)
- Car: From Park Terrace, turn into Sixth Street and drive to the end. Turn left into Drayton Street and left into Fourth Street.
From Port Road, turn into Gibson Street, and left into Fourth Street.
Usual Hours of Business
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
9.30 am - 4.30 pm
Closed Wednesdays, weekends and public holidays
Christmas closure: from Friday 23 December, reopening Tuesday 3 January