Estonia, Church Books and Synagogue Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Estonia, Church Books 1835-1940 .
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This collection includes baptism, marriage, and burial/death records for various churches, such as Orthodox, Old Believer, Roman Catholic, and Baptist. The collection includes records from 1835 to 1940.
Estonia’s religious picture is influenced by the Soviet occupation and secularization. Estonia remains a Christian-shaped country, but only 23% of the population are members of Christian Churches. About 11% of the population belongs to the predominantly protestant religion, the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and 10% to the Orthodox Church, the second largest faith. Other religious communities (Roman Catholics, Baptists, Jews, Methodists, Muslims, Buddhists and others) are much smaller.
In most churches, the sacramental ordinances of baptisms, marriages, and burials were performed by an authorized ecclesiastical officer. These registers were generally kept in the parish archive, but later these were sent to the churches largest archive for preservation.
For a list of records by religion currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Church parishes throughout Estonia. Estonia, church books and synagogue registers. National Historical Archive of Estonia, Tartu, Estonia.
Key genealogical facts found in baptism records may include:
- Child's name
- Christening date
- Sometimes the birth date
- Parents' names
- Parents' marital status
- Parents' residence
- Father's occupation
- Sometimes the mother’s age
- Witnesses and their residences
Key genealogical facts found in marriage records may include:
- Groom’s name
- Depending on the time period, the groom’s marital status, residence, and age
- Bride’s name
- Depending on the time period, the bride’s marital status, residence, and age
- Witnesses and their residences
Key genealogical facts found in burial/death records may include:
- Name of the deceased
- Death date
- Burial date
- Marital status and sometimes the spouse’s name
- Sometimes other biographical notes
How to Use the Record
To search the collection, select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒ Select the Religioon ⇒ Select the Kihelkond ⇒ Select the Event type, year range (volume) which takes you to the images.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- Date of the event
- Place of the event
- Other identifying information such as the names of the parents or the spouse
Search the Collection
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Using the Information
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
- Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
- Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
- Use the parents’ birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
- The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
- Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- The information in church records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby localities
- EURESIS net-European Studies on Religion & State Interaction
- Estonian Institute-Religion in Estonia
- EURAXESS- Estonia-Religion
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
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- "Delaware Marriage Records," index and images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org): accessed 4 March 2011, entry for William Anderson and Elizabeth Baynard Henry, married 23 November 1913; citing marriage certificate no. 859; FHL microfilm 2,025,063; Delaware Bureau of Archives and Records Management, Dover.
- “El Salvador Civil Registration,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org): accessed 21 March 2011, entry for Jose Maria Antonio del Carmen, born 9 April 1880; citing La Libertad, San Juan Opico, Nacimientos 1879-1893, image 50; Ministerio Archivo Civil de la Alcaldia Municipal de San Salvador.