Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Brandenburg, Prussia,  Germany
Flag of the German Empire.svg.png
Flag of the German Empire, 1871-1917
German Empire - Prussia - Brandenburg and Posen (1871).svg.png
Location of Brandenburg, Prussia, Germany
German Empire blank map.svg.png
Map of the German Empire, 1871-1917
Germany.png
Current Location
Parts of Brandenburg are now in Poland. All of Posen is in Poland.
Record Description
Record Type Church Records
Collection years: 1794-1874
Languages: German, Polish
Title in the Language: Deutschland, Preußen, Brandenburg und Posen, Kirchenbuchduplikate
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv

What is in this Collection?

This collection includes records from 1794 to 1874. German states successively began creating church book duplicates from 1792 to 1876. This collection of church records covers the years 1794–1874 and are good sources to find information of ancestors before the institution of civil registration in 1876.

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. 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.

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. 

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 reprinted forms. Some include indexes.

Sample Images

Click on images for a larger view.

Marriage Records generally contain the following information:

  • Names of bride, groom, their parents, and witnesses
  • Date and place of marriage and marriage proclamations or bans
  • Age of bride, groom, and their parents
  • Residence of bride, groom, and their parents
  • Religion of bride and groom
  • Occupation of groom and fathers

Death Records generally contain the following information:

  • Names of 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

Baptismal Records generally contain the following information:

  • Names of child, parents, and witnesses or godparents
  • Date of birth and place of baptism
  • Residence and religion of parents
  • Occupation of father
  • Whether child was legitimate or illegitimate

How Do I Search This Collection?

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:

⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Province" category
⇒ Select the "City or Town" category
⇒ Select the "Religion" category
⇒ Select the "Event" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image or record comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images or records and compare the information about the individuals listed to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind there may be more than one person in the records with the same name and you will want to look carefully at dates, places and relations to identify your ancestor from another person. You also may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name if they were known by a nickname or changed their name from the original birth record name. Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life and may be listed in records with any of those variations.

Search the collection by image, comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

I Found Who I was Looking for, Now What?

  • Use the age in the marriage records to find an approximate birth year to begin your search in church or civil records.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married or died nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify. Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual. This compiled list can help you identify possible relations that can be further verified by researching vital records in the county.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900. If the officiator of a marriage or death was a minister, you may be able to determine to which religion or congregation your ancestor belonged. Look for church records of the birth, marriage, or death which may provide more information on the family.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, Now What?

  • Switch to a different record collection. Depending on the time period, German Civil Registration records or German Church records may be more useful.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of local genealogical societies.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

“Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates.” Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam (Brandenburg State Archives, Potsdam).

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874.

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