I’m particularly excited about these latest additions to the Collaborative from St. John’s Lutheran Church of Northfield. Church records give us clues to our ancestors’ everyday lives that sometimes other documents can’t. We get an idea what was important to them and who some of the people they really knew were. Just now, St. John’s is the Collaborative’s only church partner, but as we grow, we hope to change that and make accessible many more of these types of things.

New to this collection are 74 photographs and scans of the church’s earliest record book.

The photographs are a selection from hundreds in the church archives. These include mainly images of their first and second buildings, along with some photographs of pastors, staff, and congregants.

One that makes my jaw drop: The only known image of the interior of St. Johannes Lutheran Church, their first building at the corner of Washington and Fourth streets.

Other photographs include one of four early pastors, a portrait of the 1945 children’s choir, a portrait of European refugees (or “displaced persons”) brought to Northfield by the church in the 1950s, and an image of the congregation and the St. Olaf College Band outside the St. Johannes building. Of personal interest to me is a pink house that stood near the church; it was moved in the late 1980s to make way for a building expansion, and I remember watching the house go down the street!

Perhaps the more significant addition for researchers are the scans of the church’s earliest record book, covering the years 1867 to 1880. This book was microfilmed in the past, but the original is delicate and has been locked away. Scans available online keep the original safe but also make it available around the world 24/7 — and even better, it’s searchable.

Don’t be intimidated that the book is in Norwegian. The vast majority of it is names, and the formatting of the pages makes the meaning of the Norwegian words pretty obvious.

Sections of the book include a membership list, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, funerals, and communions. Of particular local interest is the list of funerals, including an entry for one “Nicolaus Gustavson,” a bystander killed in the raid on the First National Bank.

Tell us what interests you! What types of materials from St. John’s Lutheran Church would you like to see in the Collaborative? What other local churches would you like to see materials from? Leave comments here or contact me at butler (at) northfieldhistory.org.