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Protestants first required the recording of baptisms and marriages in 1525, Catholics in 1563 at the Council of Trent. However, many of the early church records have been lost.
The records can be written in German, Latin, French, Italian, or Romantsch. The following may be included in the church records:
• baptisms, marriages, burials, confirmations,
• lists of communicants
• family registers (soul registers)
• lists of ministers in the parish,
• church council minutes
• notations about those who have fallen away, i.e. Anabaptists
Whenever possible, events concerning citizens of the home parish that took place in other parishes are listed in the home parish as well. Hence, there may be separate sections in the parish register, which in the FHLC entries may be described as “Auswärtige”.
The women‘s maiden names are usually given in the church records throughout their lives. However, they may be buried under their married or maiden name. Also, the record keeping conventions vary somewhat by region.
Surnames may be abbreviated. Also, there are many unusual forms of given names.