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Week 1[edit | edit source]

1. History of the church[edit | edit source]

In the Middle Ages(1500's) period, the Catholic Church was the dominant power in Europe.

  • Reformation (1520's) The Reformation of the 1520's consisted of:
    • Martin Luther - Created the Lutheran Movement
    • John Calvin - Created the Reformist Movement
  • Counter-Reformation(1550's): Catholic Church Cleaned up its act
  • 30 Years' War (1618-1648): The 30 Years' War was fought over religion. At the end of the war, State-recognized churches were determined by the head of each state. Minorities such as Jews, Mennonites, and Huguenots were still persecuted. Most records are found after 1648. [citation needed]
  • Catholic records begin in the 1560's, located mainly in southern Germany
  • Lutheran records begin in the 1540's, located mainly in northern Germany and in the imperial cities.
  • Reformed records begin from the 1520's through the 1650's. The Reformed Church in this time period was located mainly in Switzerland, along with some areas of the Palatine.

FamilySearch Wiki article: Germany Church History

2. Church Records: What are they and what types are there?[edit | edit source]

Church records are records of every person of a specific religion in a specific geographic area. This is called a parish, or in German, a Gemeinde.

  • Types of church records:
    • Baptism records
    • Marriage records
    • Burial records
    • Confirmation records
    • Family book records/Status Animarum
    • Penance records

FamilySearch Wiki article: Germany Church Records

3. Jurisdictions: Where do I find original church books?[edit | edit source]

  • Catholics:
  1. Records are kept first on the local level. These are called Parish records.
  2. Next, they are organized by diocese - under the supervision of a bishop. Currently in Germany there are 27 dioceses.
  3. Lastly, they are sometimes kept on a state level.
  • Lutherans:
    • Organized by state church (each state church established by independent princes). Currently in Germany there are 20 regional Lutheran churches.
  • Reformed:
    • Organized with Lutheran records (Prussian union in 1817; combined Reformed and Lutheran now called "evangelical" church).
  • Jewish:by synagogue

Archives - many dioceses and state churches have compiled their records into church archives.

Wikipedia articles: Catholic Church in Germany,Evangelical Church in Germany

Please note that the Evangelical Church is a mixture of both Lutheran and Reformed

4. How do I find a parish for my village?[edit | edit source]