Elsass-Lothringen, German Empire Church Records
|Elsass-Lothringen, German Empire Genealogy|
|Major Elsass-Lothringen Record Types|
|Reading the Records in German|
|Reading the Records in French|
|Local Research Resources|
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:
- Baptisms (Taufen)
- Marriages (Heiraten)
- Burials (Begräbnisse)
- Confirmations (Konfirmationen)
- Family Registers (Familienbücher)
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.
- Inventory of parish registers of the district of Lorraine. Verzeichnis der im Bezirksarchiv von Lothringen und in den Gemeinde- archiven vorhandenen alten Kirchenbücher
- Herbert Koch “Die Kirchenbücher von Elsaß-Lothringen” (Leipzig : Zentralstelle für Deutsche Personen- und Familiengeschichte, 1911); included in Mitteilungen der Zentralstelle für Deutsche Personen- und Familiengeschichte; v. 9-10; aka “Kirchenbücher des Reichslandes Elsaß-Lothringen”. Parish register inventory of Alsace-Lorraine, France/Elsaß-Lothringen, Germany. (FHL Location 1: FHL INTL book 944.38 K23k), (FHL Location 2: FHL HD book 0273085), (FHL Location 3: FHL INTL film 1183557, it. 7) WorldCat
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:
- Department Archives of Moselle formerly Lothringen, Germany
- Department Archives of Muerthe-et-Moselle, formerly part of Lothringen, Germany
- Department Archives of Bas-Rhin, formerly Unterelsass, Germany
- Department Archives of Vosges, formerly part of Lothringen, Germany
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:
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. . 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.
- These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:
- List of Names in Old German Script A comprehensive list of German given names, written in old script, with possible variations.
- Old German Script Transcriber (alte deutsche Handschriften): See your family names in the script of the era. Type your name or other word into the font generator tool. Click on the 8 different fonts. Save the image to your computer and use it as you work with old Germanic records.
Downloadable Handouts[edit | edit source]
These printable handouts can be used for ready reference when reading German Handwriting.
Vocabulary found on Specific Records:
- Birth Records Vocabulary handout
- Marriage Records Vocabulary handout
- Overview of Marriage Laws and Customs (handout)
- Death Records Vocabulary handout
Dates, Numbers, Abbreviations:
- Days and Months handout
- Numbers Vocabulary handout
- Script Dates and Numbers handout
- Common Abbreviations handout
- Common Symbols handout
- Fraktur Font--Many forms and books are printed in this font.
French Records[edit | edit source]
- French Genealogical Word List
- Latin Genealogical Word List
- Reading French Handwritten Records
- French Records Extraction Manual, Full Manual
- French Republican Calendar
Latin Records[edit | edit source]
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
Feast Dates[edit | edit source]
- Calendar Changes in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries--class
- Each day of the year had several patron saints and was a feast day to honor those saints. Some vital events are recorded in church records only by the holy day (feast day) on the church calendar. For example, the feast day called “All Saints Day” (Allerheiligentag) is “1 November.” The Wiki article, Moveable and Fixed Feast Day Calendars for Germany, provides charts for converting feast days given in church records to regular Julian and Gregorian calendar dates.
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.