German Records in Local Churches
When searching for German Ancestors it is important to remember the history of the German contry and people. (Refer to my journal :Finding Records of German Ancestors).
We are lucky that the Churches of Germany kept records. Keep in mind that it was common practice in the 1700's to use only the second baptismal name in official records later in life. The first name was that of a parent or grandparent and was given as a compliment, but never used officially so Johannes Georg Weber would appear only as Georg Weber.
Before delving into a particular church's records, it is important to understand the organization and archival policies of the various churches.
The Evangelical Church (Evengelische Kirche in Deutschland)
This is a union of independent territorial Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches and the various secitons are not officially unified, but are in close cooperation. There are eight United Evangelical Churches: five more are members of the World Federation of Lutheran Churches: others belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church; and others to the Federation of Reformed Churches, the two branches of the Moravian Church, and other independent sects. To get addresses (they change all the time) check the Evangelical Lutheran Church web site at www.velkd.de.
German Lutheran Churches in Memel. Although the registers for the area churches disappeared after 1945, it is probable that the records are now in the State Parish Register Archives of Lithuania. The parishes concerned are: Coadjuthen, Dawillan, Crottingen, Heydekrug, Kairinn, Karkelbeck, Kinten, Laugszargen, Mattkischken, Nidden, Paleiten, Pasziesen,Piktopen, Plaschken, Plicken, Prokuls, ramutten, Rucken, Russ, Saugen, Schwarzort, Szugen, Wannagen, Wieszen and Wischwil.
Evangelical Churches in East Prussia (Ostpreussen)
Prior to the invasion of the Red Army the parish registers were moved to West Berlin. This move included the Kirchenbuecher (church books) from about 500 parishes.The are located in the Central Archivves of the Evangelical Church. Due to the war it is not surprising that there are some missing records and gaps in others but if you had ancestors that were Evangelical and from east Prussia, you may want to contact the Central Archives. There are over 6,800 books involves, so be as specific as possible with your request. You may also want to ask about the possibility of Kirchenbuechduplikate, duplicates of records sent each year to the nearest headquarters of a particular church.
The Catholic Church
Organized under each archbishop in ecclesiastical provinces and local parishes the Catholic Church in germany has twenty-seven (27) archives. These have parish registers, confirmation and communion records. In many cases there are also family books which were first admitted in about 1614 and include full details of each family in the parish with names of servants and occupation of the head of the house. These were in Latin and German and are more complete in some areas than others. The division of Germany after WWII, and the reunification in 1990 did not affect the boundaries of the various dioceses.
Look to the nearest large city near your relative for the records of that area. Use any good map to figure this out after you cross reference to discover any name changes.
It is impossible to address all options here, but I hope this will help some of you resume your search for your German ancestors. Please remember that you will need to include a return/postage paid envelope with any request and that due to the large number of remaining records, PLEASE be as detailed and specific as possible.
I hope this helps.
on 2006-06-16 07:10:09
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