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Berlin, Brandenburg, German Empire Church Records

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Berlin, Brandenburg
German Empire
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Beginning Research
Berlin, Brandenburg
German Empire
Record Types
Reading the Records
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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

Parish Register Inventories

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.

Christening Card Index

A additional finding aid for Old Berlin (Alt Berlin) is the baptismal register kept in the Evangelisches Landeskirchliches Archiv in Berlin (ELAB). Old Berlin here means the six inner city districts: Mitte, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Tiergarten and Wedding. These index cards contain, in alphabetical order, all Protestant baptisms in Alt-Berlin from 1750 to 1874. The garrison community and the French-reformed community are not taken into consideration. A request for a search of this index can help narrow down which parish the family lived in. Send a written request or e-mail in English to:

Protestant State Church Archive in Berlin (ELAB)
Bethaniendamm 29
10997 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Germany

E-mail:elab@ekbo.de

Directories and Street Guides

The Wiki article, Berlin Evangelical Parish Jurisdictions, will explain how to use city directories to aid in determining which Lutheran parish your ancestors' should have belonged to. After locating your ancestors in the city directories, you can use the section, Berlin Street Guide Parish Information, to determine the parish for their street. Berlin was predominantly Lutheran. For Catholic parishes serving the various boroughs, see Addresses of Churches in Berlin.

1. Online Records

2. Records at the Family History Library

Many of the church records for Greater Berlin have been microfilmed. 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.

a. Click on records for Germany, Preußen, Brandenburg, Berlin to find city parishes. Or, for records of the parishes in the state of Berlin surrounding the city, click on records for Germany, Preußen, Brandenburg, and open the link Places within Germany, Preußen, Brandenburg. These will have a Berlin prefix, for example "Berlin-Britz".
b. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles. There are over 200 records, and not all will be shown at once. Click on the blue "Show more" link at the bottom of each list to keep downloading additional sections of the list.
c. Select your parish. Both original records labelled Kirchenbuch and indexes labelled computer printout will be listed.
d. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Taufen" are baptisms/christenings. Heiraten are marriages. "Tote" are deaths.
e. 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 Archives

Church records at these archives may be searched in person, by written inquiry (for reasonably brief requests), or by hiring a researcher.

Lutheran Archives

Protestant State Church Archive in Berlin
Bethaniendamm 29
10997 Berlin
Germany

Tel .: 030-225045-0
E-Mail: elab@ekbo.de

Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Berlin

Dioezesanarchiv Berlin
Bethaniendamm 29
10997 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 30 22504580
Fax: +49 (0) 30 22504583
E-Mail: info@dioezesanarchiv-berlin.de

4. Writing to Local Parishes

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.

Writing the Letter

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)
GERMANY

For a Catholic Parish:

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

How to write a letter: 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. 4.

Other Religious Groups

  • 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. This course teaches you how to use a set of reference books found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are not in Salt Lake City, use the Contact Us feature to request information from the books.

Jewish Records

Huguenots (French Protestants)

Reading the Records

  • 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

Latin Records

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

Feast Dates

Search Strategy

  • 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.