How would you like to open a book and be able to link trace 14 generations, going all the way back to 1500? In one known Ortssippenbuch (OSB) this is possible! OSBs are an underutilized resource in family history, but can be very valuable.
What is an OSB?
An Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch generally include birth, marriage, and death information for all persons found in a specific locality during a specified time period. Usually, a local genealogist, historian, or enthusiast has extracted information from local parish registers to compile the OSB.
OSBs usually go back in time to the earliest records of a given locality. They often extend up to the near-present. Starting dates vary considerably, but they usually begin in the 16th or 17th century, so they are an excellent source of early German family research.
How is an OSB organised and what will you find there?
An OSB is arranged alphabetically by surname and then chronologically by marriage date. In order to save space, a number of symbols for events are used. To the beginner, all of these special symbols and abbreviations may make using an OSB difficult to use at first. But once the beginner becomes familiar with them, the books become easy to use and are a great resource. Sometimes, an OSB might be the only source in existence for some information if the original records have been lost or destroyed.
Where to find OSBs
The Family History Library has over 800 OSBs. In the FamilySearch catalog under Place-names. You should first type the name of the town you are searching. When the list of record types for that locality appears, click on the word, genealogy.
Online Resources for OSBs
Genealogy.net lists approximately 340 OSBs under the title Ortsfamilienbücher. The books on this website are searchable by surname or place.
The value of an OSB is clear. Of course, not every locality has an OSB, but when one is found, the researcher can gain a tremendous amount of information.