Rhineland (Rheinland), German Empire Church Records

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Rhineland (Rheinland), German Empire Church Records
Rhineland (Rheinprovinz)
Wiki Topics
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Getting Started
Major Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Record Types
Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Background
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background
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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.

Online[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • J. H. M. Putman, "Die Kirchenbücher des Bistums Münster (Bussum (Niederlande)" : J.H.M. Putman, 1974). The parish registers of the diocese of Münster, Westfalen, Germany. Includes some towns in the Netherlands. (FHL Location 1: FHL INTL Ref 943.56/M1 K23p) (FHL Location 2: FHL HD book 0000624) (FHL Location 3: FHL HD film 1045373, it. 7 and it. 9) WorldCat

1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

Archion ($)[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com ($)[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com collections can be viewed free-of-charge at a Family History Center near you.

  • Rhineland, Germany, Protestant church books, 1533-1950 - at Ancestry.com ($), index. To see a list of available parishes and their links, under "Browse this collection" in the right sidebar, select "Deutschland" in the "Region" field. Then click on the drop-down menu for "City or district".

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, Preussen, Rheinland.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Preussen, Rheinland 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. Research in Church and State Archives[edit | edit source]

Church records or duplicates may have been gathered from the local parishes into central archives, either by the churches or the state. Older records are frequently given to these archives for safekeeping. Some gaps in the church records of local parishes could be filled using these records.

  • Pdf Archive Inventory: "Part 1 of 2: Church records in Archives" - is an inventory of localities and the location or archive where their records should be found. The sixth column, "Archives", gives a number. To find the name and contact information, look up that number in the second column of this .pdf: Part 2: Archive Addresses.  It is not clear how up-to-date this inventory is.

Some archives offer searches for a fee. Archives might be unable to handle genealogical requests, but they can determine whether they have specific records you need, sometimes perform very brief research, such as just one record, or they may recommend a researcher who can search the records for you. Archivists are required to speak English.

E-mail[edit | edit source]

  • You can e-mail archives and ask whether they have records for a parish. Also, you should inquire whether they provide research services and what their fees are. You can communicate with the archives in English.

Catholic Archives:[edit | edit source]

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To find the correct diocese archives, look up your parish in The Catholic Directory for Germany. Click on "View Full Listing" to find the diocese for that parish.

Episcopal Diocesan Archive Aachen
Jakobstr. 42
D-52064 Aachen

Mailing address: PO Box 10 03 11
D-52003 Aachen

Phone: 0241 452 - 268
Fax: 0241 452 - 828
E-mail: archiv@bistum-aachen.de

Historical Archive of the Archdiocese of Cologne (Köln)
Gereonstr. 2-4
50670 Cologne

Phone: 0221 - 1642 5800
Fax:0221 - 1642 5803
E-mail: archiv@erzbistum-koeln.de

Bistum Archive Essen
Green Aue 2
45307 Essen

Phone: 0201 - 2204 316
Fax: 0201 - 2204 570
E-mail: archiv@bistum-essen.de

Diocesan Archives Limburg
Weilburger Straße 16
65549 Limburg

PO Box 1355, 65533 Limburg
Phone: 06431 - 295-846
06431 - 295-849 (genealogy)
Fax: 06431 - 295 892
E-mail: archiv@bistumlimburg.de

Bistumsarchiv Trier
Jesuitenstraße 13c, 54290
Phone: 0651 - 96627 0
E-mail: Bistumsarchiv@bgv-trier.de

Bistumsarchiv Speyer
Small Pfaffengasse 16
67346 Speyer
Phone:06232 - 102 256
Fax: 06232 - 102 477

Lutheran Archives[edit | edit source]

Evangelical Church in the Rhineland
Landeskirchliches Archive
Hans-Böckler-Strasse 7
40476 Düsseldorf
Tel .: 0211-4562-225
E-Mail: archiv@ekir-lka.de

Central Archives of Ev. Church of the Palatinate (Speyer)
Domplatz 6
67346 Speyer
Postal address:
Postfach 1720
67343 Speyer
Phone: 06232-667180
E-Mail: centralarchiv@evkirchepfalz.de

Archive of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, St. Martin / Boppard
Mainzerstrasse 8
D-56154 Boppard
Tel. (06742) 8 61 94

State Archives[edit | edit source]

  • You can e-mail archives and ask whether they have records for a town. Also, you should inquire whether they provide research services and what their fees are. You can communicate with the archives in English.

Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen
Schifferstrasse 30
47059 Duisburg

Tel. +49 203 98721-0
Fax. +49 203 98721-111
E-Mail: poststelle@lav.nrw.de

Landesarchivverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz
Provincial Archives Koblenz
Karmeliterstr. 1/3
56068 Koblenz

Mailing address:
Landesarchivverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz
Provincial Archives Koblenz
Karmeliterstraße 1-3
56068 Koblenz

Telephone: 0261 9129-0
Fax: 0261 9129-112
E-Mail: post@landeshauptarchiv.de

Landesarchiv Speyer
Otto-Mayer-Str. 9
67346 Speyer

Telephone: 06232 9192-0
Fax: 06232 9192-100
E-Mail: post@landesarchiv-speyer.de

State Archives Koblenz has church records for Kreis Koblenz, Kreis Neuwied, Kreis Altenkirchen, and Peterslahr
Karmeliterstr. 1/3
56068 Koblenz

Tel.: 0261 9129-0
E-Mail: post@landeshauptarchiv.de

4. Writing to a Local Priest for Church Records[edit | edit source]

Most church registers are still maintained by the parish. You might obtain information by writing to the parish. Parish employees will usually answer correspondence written in German. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to a central repository.

Evangelical Lutheran (Protestant)[edit | edit source]

Catholic Addresses[edit | edit source]

E-mail[edit | edit source]

  • Because many churches now have known e-mail addresses, you can quickly check whether the parish records are stored at the parish church or have been moved to archives. If possible, do this before sending a more detailed inquiry or any money. Links for church addresses are found on the wiki pages for the individual states and counties of Germany.

I. Are the parish records for _________to ___________ (time period range) at your church still?  

1. Sind die Kirchenbücher für den Zeitraum von _____ bis _____ noch in Ihrer Kirchengemeinde?

2. If they have been moved to an archive, can you tell me where they are now?

2. Falls sie nun in einem Archiv sind, können Sie mir bitte sagen, wo sie sich jetzt befinden?

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Write a brief request in German to the proper church using this address as a guide, replacing the information in parentheses:

For a Protestant Parish:

An das evangelische Pfarramt
(Insert street address, if known.)
(Postal Code) (Name of Locality)

For a Catholic Parish:

An das katholische Pfarramt
(Insert street address, if known.)
(Postal Code) (Name of Locality)

How to Write a Letter[edit | edit source]

Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the German Letter Writing Guide.

5. Compiled and Published Secondary Sources[edit | edit source]

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Compiled genealogies and published genealogies are secondary sources, not original or primary sources.

As such, they are subject to human error through translation or transcription errors, mistaken interpretations, and opinion decisions of another researcher.

You should make every effort to base your research on the actual, original records or their digitized images.

Town Genealogies (Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch)[edit | edit source]

See the class, Online Ortsfamilienbücher at Genealogy.net, and Wiki article, Germany Town Genealogies and Parish Register Inventories on the Internet. Published town genealogies, Ortssippenbuch (town lineage book) or Ortsfamilienbuch (town family book), generally include birth, marriage, and death data for all persons found in the local records during a specified time period, compiled into families based on the opinion of the author. If one is available, it should only be used as an index or guide to finding the original records. They usually contain errors. Always verify their information in original records.

Finding an OFB[edit | edit source]

  • Click here to see OFBs at GenWiki. These are indexed and searchable. OFB Instructions.
  • A bibliography of OFBs held by the Central Office for Person and Family History, and available in their archive in Frankfurt am Main-Höchst, is listed here. You can arrange for copied pages to be sent to you for a fee or donation. Use the "Find" function on your keyboard to search the bibliographies, as they are not alphabetical.

Other Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

To learn how to determine the location of other religious records, namely Jewish, French Reformed, German Reformed, etc., watch Hansen’s Map Guides: Finding Records with Parish Maps beginning at 48:00 minutes, to learn how to locate these congregations. Then go back and watch from the beginning to understand how to use the reference book. Also, you can read Map Guide to German Parish Registers. This video and handout teach you how to use a set of reference books found at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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]

These printable handouts can be used for ready reference when reading German Handwriting.

Vocabulary found on Specific Records:

Dates, Numbers, Abbreviations:

Miscellaneous Vocabulary:


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.