Germany Brandenburg Church Book Duplicates (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Collection Time Period
German states successively began creating church book duplicates from 1792 to 1876. The collection of the Brandenburg Church Book Duplicates covers the years 1794–1874, when Brandenburg was part of the Kingdom of Prussia. The church book duplicates ended with the institution of civil registration in 1876.
Inspired by the institution of civil registration in France in 1792, German states 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 Prussia in October 1874 and elsewhere in January 1876.
The clergy were required to record the vital events (births, marriages, and deaths) of the people living within their jurisdiction regardless of their religion. For example, Catholics or Jews who lived in an area that did not have a Catholic church or Jewish synagogue were often included in the Lutheran records. The reverse was also true. In Catholic areas, the information for Lutherans and Jews was included in Catholic records. The church book duplicates records cover a majority of the population.
Why was this collection created?
Church book duplicates were created for civil authorities to use.
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. Realize that the ages, birth dates, and birthplaces listed in marriage and death entries may be inaccurate because the information came from an informant's memory. Church book duplicates may differ slightly from the originals because of transcription variations, but they are often more legible than the originals.
Entries are usually arranged in chronological order in columns. 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, only births and marriages, and so on). Some of the records are on preprinted forms and some include indexes.
A German parish was an ecclesiastical jurisdiction made up of many villages and hamlets, with one of those villages designated as the main parish town. A set of church book duplicates usually did not include records from all of the villages in the parish. Instead, it included records from only one village or from a few of the villages. In larger cities where there was more than one church, each church is listed separately.
Important genealogical information found in baptismal duplicate records are:
• 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.
Important genealogical information found in marriage duplicate records are:
• Names of the bride, groom, their parents (usually the fathers), and witnesses.
• Date and place of the marriage and the marriage proclamations (called "banns").
• Age of the bride and groom (sometimes the date and place of birth).
• Residence of the bride, groom, and their parents.
• Religion of the bride and groom.
• Occupation of the groom and of the fathers.
Important genealogical information found in death duplicate records are:
• Names of the deceased, spouse, and parents.
• Date and place of the death and burial.
• Age and residence of the deceased (sometimes the date and place of birth).
• Cause of death
How to Use the Collection
German church book duplicates are a backup source for church books (parish registers). These church books are the best records for identifying German individuals, parents, and spouses before civil registration of vital events began. German states instituted registration at different times between 1792 and 1874.
When trying to find information, search the records for the villages where the person lived. If you do not find the record you need, you can try the following: (1) look for other people with the same surname in the village, as these individuals could be relatives, and their information might lead you to the correct record; (2) search several years before and after the event you are looking for; and (3) search surrounding villages for the individual's records.
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Sources of Information for This Collection
Digital images of original records housed at Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv in Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany.
How To Cite Your Sources
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