Last Updated: Oct 10, 2017     Views: 100

Thank you for your inquiry. Attached is a guide to researching stained-glass firms that should help you in your search for information. It includes the checklist below for researching individual church windows, along with many other resources at the Rakow and in other places.

Checklist for Researching Individual Church Windows:

  1. If the date of the window is known, check old invoices in church records.
  2. Many windows were done as memorials, so check the church’s book/log/files for memorials.
  3. There was probably a dedication service, and if you know the dates of installation, you can check old church bulletins.
  4. There may be a published history of the individual church.
  5. The windows may have been done in conjunction with major sanctuary renovations. This would be documented in church files, either in the church office, or building committee files. There may also be information in trustee records and/or session minutes.
  6. Older individual church records may have been archived with the church’s denominational headquarters.
  7. Local or regional historical societies, and the public library, may have compiled information from newspaper clippings about the church. If the donor of the windows is known, an obituary might hold a clue. Preservation organizations may also have information.
  8. Sometimes, there are small signatures in corners of windows or logos. Dates can be included in memorial inscriptions.
  9. Knowledgeable stained glass historians, ornamental glass experts, and conservators use the appearance and construction of the window’s details to help in identifying period of manufacturer, and possible firm:
    • The type of glass used (mouth blown antique, machine made, or opalescent);
    • Style of design, drawing and glass painting;
    • Texture of the glass painting (smooth or rough stipple), the use of items such as pearls or peacock feathers for wings, strong lines or soft lines, etc. Major artists and well known professional studios often have individual styles. However, many windows (whether stenciled, gauge or catalog art glass) will not be attributable to one specific firm.
  10. A local stained glass studio may also be able to assist, because the artists might be familiar with similar windows in the area.

(Points 8-10 appeared on the listserv, contributed by Roy Coomber and Neal Vogel 16 August 2009.)

Please let us know if there is anything specific that we could assist you in finding or if you have trouble opening the attachment. The guide should serve as a good starting point for your research if you have not already exhausted the mentioned possibilities.

You are welcome to come to Corning and use the resources of the Rakow Research Library. We encourage you to call ahead to let us know when you plan to arrive/visit and remind us of your area of interest. While an appointment is not required for use of the library (except for access to archives and special collections on weekends), it will help us to be better prepared to meet your research needs and to have preliminary materials ready upon your arrival. 

If you wish to borrow copies of library items, please contact your local library. The Rakow Research Library will lend designated books from its collection and will send copies of articles requested by other libraries. Your library can request items through the OCLC WorldShare Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system or by direct request through email at For more information, please see our ILL website.

*Response updated 10/17

Comments (2)

  1. The attachment above, "Stained Glass Firms Research," would not open for me. I hope to identify the makers and figures in the windows installed in my church in 1879, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. There were a number of wealthy members who might have commissioned them anywhere in the industrial world. Could you send me a fresh attachment please?
    by Kris on May 11, 2017.
  2. The response has been updated and the attachment re-uploaded as a PDF instead of a Word document. Hopefully everyone will be able to open it now, though let us know if you continue to have problems!
    by Rakow Research Library Public Services Team on Oct 10, 2017.

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