Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874 .
Title in the Language of the Records
Deutschland, Preußen, Brandenburg und Posen, Kirchenbuchduplikate 1794-1874
This collection will include records from 1794 to 1874.
Entries are usually arranged in chronological order in a column format. The baptisms, marriages and deaths for one year are grouped together before the baptisms, marriages and deaths for the next year (some of the records include only marriages and deaths, or only births and marriages, etc.). Some of the records are on preprinted forms. Some include indexes.
Many church book duplicates were lost but those that remain are well kept in civil archives.
In Germany, a parish was an ecclesiastical jurisdiction made up of many villages and hamlets, with one of the villages designated as the main parish town. This set of church book duplicates do not usually include records from all of the villages within a parish, but only records from one village, or from a few of the villages within the parish. In larger cities, where there was more than one church, each church is listed separately.
German states successively began creating church book duplicates from 1792-1876. The duplicates ended with the institution of civil registration in 1876 (October 1, 1874 in Prussia). Inspired by the institution of church book duplicates in the Hapsburg Empire under Joseph II and the beginning of civil registration in France in 1792, the state of Brandenburg began creating church book duplicates.The German states required the clergy to create a transcript of their church books and turn them in annually to the state. Civil authorities assumed the registration function in Brandenburg in January 1876.
Outside of Prussia, the clergy were required to record the vital events (births, marriages and deaths) of people living within their jurisdiction regardless of their religion. For example, Catholic or Jewish people living in an area that did not have a Catholic church or Jewish synagogue were often recorded in the Lutheran records. The reverse was also true in Catholic areas, where Lutherans and Jews were recorded in Catholic records. However, in Prussia--including Brandenburg and, from 1793 onward, Posen--this was not the common practice. Some Posen church books have entries for Jews during the period 1807-1814, i.e., the Napoleonic occupation.
Large cities had many churches or parishes, each serving part of the city. Rural churches often served several villages and hamlets. The church book duplicates for Posen cover a majority of the population.
German church book duplicates, like the originals, are the most reliable and accurate family history source until 1876 when civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in all of Germany. Ages, birth dates and birth places found in marriage and death entries may be inaccurate, depending on the informant's knowledge. Church book duplicates may differ slightly from the originals because of transcription variations. They are often more legible than the originals.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Evangelical Church. Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv Potsdam.
These baptismal records generally contain the following information:
- Names of the child, parents and witnesses or godparents
- Date and place of birth and baptism
- Residence and religion of the parents
- Occupation of the father
- Whether the child was legitimate or illegitimate
These marriage records generally contain the following information:
- Names of the bride, groom, their parents (usually the fathers) and witnesses
- Date and place of marriage and marriage proclamations or bans
- Age of bride and groom (sometimes date and place of birth)
- Residence of the bride, groom and their parents
- Religion of the bride and groom
- Occupation of groom and fathers
These death records generally contain the following information:
- Names of the deceased, spouse and parents
- Date and place of death and burial
- Age and residence of deceased (sometimes date and place of birth)
- Cause of death
How to Use the Records
German church book duplicates are a back up source for church books (parish registers) which are the best German records to identify individuals, parents, and spouses before the civil registration of vital events. German states instituted registration at different times from 1792-1874. There are more duplicates in the Family History Library and on FamilySearch, making them the best records available at this time.
Search the records for the villages where the person lived. If you do not find record of the person you need, you might want to: a) look for other people with the same surname in the village as that information might lead you to the records you need, b) search several years before and after the event you are looking for, and c) search surrounding villages for the individual.
Search the Collection
For a browse collection: To search the collection image by image select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "Province"
⇒Select the appropriate "Town (Kreis):Subordinate towns"
⇒Select the appropriate "Religion"
⇒Select the appropriate "Event, date span" which will take you to images
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