Elsass-Lothringen, German Empire Church Records

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Elsass-Lothringen, German Empire Genealogy
Alsace-Lorraine Germany Flag 1871–1918.png
Getting Started
Major Elsass-Lothringen Record Types
Reading the Records in German
Reading the Records in French
Additional Elsass-Lothringen
Record Types
Elsass-Lothringen Background
Local Research Resources

In 1920, Elsass-Lothringen became Alsace-Lorraine in France. See those articles for further information.

Church records (parish registers, church books) are an important source for genealogical research in Germany before civil registration began. They recorded details of baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. The vast majority of the population was mentioned. To learn more about the types of information you will find in church records, click on these links:


For a comprehensive understanding of church records, study the article Germany Church Records.


Finding Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parish Register Inventories[edit | edit source]

Church record inventories are essential tools for finding German records. They identify what records should be available for a specified parish and where to write for information on these records. They list the church records, their location, and the years they cover. Sometimes inventories explain which parishes served which towns at different periods of time.

1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

The church records are digitized and made available in the archive records of the Departments of France, except for Haut-Rhin:

See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step written instructions on finding and reading these records. For a demonstration of navigating archives websites, watch the video, Using France Department Archives Online. Also, see:

  • Alsace-Lorraine - Activity, Answer Key
  • Alsace-Lorraine: Converting French Republican Calendar Dates - Instruction
  • Alsace-Lorraine: Department Archive Records Online - Instruction
  • Alsace-Lorraine: Translating German and French Names and Place Names - Instruction

Use this gazetteer to find the current French name of your ancestors' town:

German place names in Elsass-Lothringen and French equivalents

2. Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Try to find records in the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Many microfilms have been digitized for online viewing. Gradually, everything will be digitized, so check back occasionally. Some have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on this link to records of Germany, Elsass-Lothringen.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Elsass-Lothringen and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. "Taufen" are christenings/baptisms. "Heiraten" are marriages. "Tote" are deaths.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Writing to the Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Church records after 1792 in France are available by writing to the parish. Parishes will usually answer correspondence in French. However, most researchers have more success by using the online departmemt records first. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to another archive. For help writing a letter in French, see French Letter Writing Guide.

Catholic Parish Addresses[edit | edit source]

Protestant Parishes[edit | edit source]

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

  • It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French and German to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read German records.
German Genealogical Word List
French Genealogical Word List
Latin Genealogical Word List
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:

Downloadable Handouts[edit | edit source]

French Records[edit | edit source]

Latin Records[edit | edit source]

Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:

Feast Dates[edit | edit source]

Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find their birth record, search for the births of their brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of their parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Calculate the birth date of the parents, using age at death and/or marriage to search for their birth records.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.