Advanced Death Record Vocabulary (Premium)

Death records are wonderful resources for finding information on your ancestor. Since you all are coming quite advanced in your death record vocabulary, it's time to go to the next level! Below is a list of important - though slightly less basic - words and phrases to know for death records.  Related Posts: 

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My Church Records Aren’t Digitized – Now What?

While FamilySearch and Ancestry, along with Matricula and Archion, offer wonderful resources for finding your ancestors’ church records, there are still many, many church records that have not been digitized yet. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost! 

If you can’t find your ancestors’ church records online, you can reach out to the physical church in Germany and see if they can help you find your records. 

Not sure what church your ancestor belonged to? Scared to write to a foreign country? Don’t know how to contact the church? Read on to find out what you can do. 

Please Note: Before you can take action on the steps below, you will need to know your ancestor’s hometown in Germany. Some previous blog posts that may help you are:

Before You Cross The Pond: Five Places to Find Your Ancestor in America 

The Top German Words to Find Your Ancestor’s Hometown 

Finding Your German Parish Contact Information: Protestant Churches 

To find your Protestant parish information in Germany:

  • Go to https://www.ekd.de/en/Gemeindesuche-161.htm
  • Type in the name of your ancestor’s town in the Ort (town) search box.
  • Click Gemeinde suchen (search parishes).
  • If there are multiple parishes in that town, the website will provide you with the highest-ranking parish.
  • Write your request to the e-mail address provided (see how to write at the end of the article). 
Protestant Churches in Germany

Finding Your German Parish Contact INformation: Catholic Churches

  1. To find your Catholic parish information in Germany:
  • Go to https://www.dbk.de/bistumskarte.
  • Type in your ancestor’s town in the Adresse oder Ort (address or town) search box.
  • Press Suchen (search).
  • Click the red marker on the map.
  • Write your request to the e-mail address provided.
Catholic Churches in Germany

Contacting State Archives

If you are unable to contact the church, you can also try writing the state archives for your ancestor’s region. Fortunately for us, government archives often kept duplicate records from churches. 

If you want to find the archive for your ancestor’s region, simply google Landesarchiv or Staatsarchiv (state archive) + whichever region your ancestor came from (Example: Landesarchiv Baden). 

Once on the archive’s website, look for the Kontakt tab to find an e-mail address to which you can write. 

Translating Websites to English

Do those German websites overwhelm you? No problem!

If you use Google Chrome, you can simply right click with your mouse, and press “translate to English”. This will then provide a  machine-translated version of the website for you. The translation may not be perfect, but it will still give you a good idea of what the website is saying.

If you are not a fan of Chrome, you can copy and paste the website link into Google Translate, and then click on the new link Google Translate provides. This also gives you a machine-translated version of the page. 

Writing to the Church or Archive

If you don’t speak German, don’t let that stop you from writing an e-mail to Germany. FamilySearch has a wonderful German Letter Writing Guide that you can use to help you.

If you write to the church in German, they will likely reply to you in German as well. In that case, you can use the translation tool DeepL.com to help you find out what was written. 

However, more and more people are using English professionally in German nowadays. If you do want to write in English,  I would say that you could, but perhaps offer a brief apology for not writing in German upfront. We don’t want to assume that everyone speaks English!

Map Guide to German Parish Registers

If you prefer book resources, I would highly recommend Kevan M. Hansen’s Map Guide to German Parish Registers. This book series, which covers parishes in towns in specific regions of Germany, can be found by a simple Google search through a number of retailers.

Best of luck finding your ancestors’ records! For more information on locating and reading German church records, check out The Magic of German Church Records

The Magic of German Church Records: The Book

Learn how to extract your ancestor’s information from German church records – without needing to speak German!

If you are researching your German ancestors, it is more likely than not that you will run into church records at some point in your research. For years, it was the German churches – not civil authorities – who meticulously kept track of their members’ births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. Filled with information such as your ancestor’s name, parents’ names, occupations, dates, relationships, and more, these records are an amazing find for any German genealogist. But there is just one problem – they’re not in English.

In this how-to guide, learn how you can extract the information you need from German church records – without having to decipher every word on the page. Complete with handpicked examples from real German church records, this book teaches you to:

  • Locate those valuable church records for your German ancestor
  • Take yourself step-by-step through baptismal records, marriage records, death records – in both column and paragraph format – to pick out the details of your ancestor’s life
  • Recognize the different spelling variations of your ancestor’s name and hometown
  • Understand what church record phrases, symbols, and abbreviations mean and how these can help your genealogy research
  • Convert names of commonly-seen feast dates into actual dates of birth, marriage, and death for your ancestor
  • Work with the best technological tools and resources to make your genealogy journey easier – and more fun!

Best yet, this book includes the German transcriptions and English translations of multiple sample records – as well as comprehensive German vocabulary lists with handwritten examples of these important genealogy words.

Whether you are just starting out in the field or have worked with church records for years, this book will teach you the must-know methods to unlock the mysteries of your ancestor’s past. Are you ready to get started?

Understanding Feast Days in Church Records (PREMIUM)

Septuagesimae? Kantate? When I came across such words in German church records, I was stumped. What could these obscure words mean? After a great deal of research, I found that they were certain Sundays in the church’s liturgical year.  These names for certain Sundays and other various feast days are frequently used in church records … Continue reading Understanding Feast Days in Church Records (PREMIUM)

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The Need-to-Know Symbols in German Genealogy (PREMIUM)

As if church books aren't hard enough to decipher with the old German handwriting, the scribes of yore had to throw in symbols as well. But no need to fret! With this list of symbols found in German genealogy, deciphering those records will be a peace of cake!  Birth-Related Symbols * born (*) born illegitimate *+ … Continue reading The Need-to-Know Symbols in German Genealogy (PREMIUM)

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7 Things You Need to Know to Decipher Church Records (PREMIUM)

Church records are amazing resources for genealogists. But before you start deciphering them, there are a few things that would be very helpful for you to know. Read on for seven tips for deciphering church records. Anything you would add? Let us know in the comments! Chronological Order: Church records - be they birth, marriage, or … Continue reading 7 Things You Need to Know to Decipher Church Records (PREMIUM)

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Birth and Baptismal Records: The Must-Know Vocabulary (PREMIUM)

Birth and baptismal records can provide you with a great deal of information for your family tree. And of course, the more German vocabulary you know, the more information you’ll be able to find. In this article, I’ve provided a table of the words you’ll need to know when deciphering your German birth and baptismal … Continue reading Birth and Baptismal Records: The Must-Know Vocabulary (PREMIUM)

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German Church Record Vocabulary: The Most Important Words

German church records can be a genealogist’s dream. Filled with names, dates, places of residence and more, these entries can be the key to breaking down the brick walls in our genealogy research. If you don’t speak German, however, these records may seem a bit  overwhelming. But never fear! Below, I’ve compiled the most important vocabulary words you’ll need to know when analyzing German church records – keep this list on hand, and you’ll be well on your way to filling in your family tree. 

Important Church Record Vocabulary

Name Name, Namen, Nahme, Nahmen
Parish Pfarre, Gemeinde
local hiesig
Baptism Taufe
Birth Geburt
Child Kind
Son Sohn
Daughter Tochter
Mother Mutter
Father Vater
Parents Eltern, Aeltern
Boy Knabe, Junge
Girl Mädchen
Stillborn totgeboren, todtgeboren
Year, Month and Day Jahr, Monat und Tag
(In the) Morning; Afternoon; Evening früh; nachmittags; abends
Legitimate; Illegitimate ehelich; unehelich
Profession/Occupation Stand, Beruf, Gewerbe
Godparents/Sponsors Paten, Pathen, Taufpaten, Taufpathen, Gevatter
Witnesses Zeugen, Beistand, Beystand, Beistände
Pastor/Priest; Assistant Pastor Pfarrer, Priester; Koop., Coop.
Marriage Trauung, Ehe
Groom Bräutigam
Bride Braut
Married verheiratet, verehelicht
Wife Frau, Ehefrau, Gattin, Weib, Eheweib
Husband Mann, Ehemann, Gatte
Location/Place of Residence Ort, Wohnort
Divorced geschieden
Widower/Widow Wittwer, Witwer; Wittwe, Witwe
Death Tod
Die; Died sterben; gestorben, starb
Burial/Funeral Begräbnis, Beerdigung

Author’s Note: For more church record vocabulary and tips on deciphering your church records, check out my newest book The Magic of German Church Records: Finding the Key to Your Ancestor’s Past.

The Dreaded Paragraph Marriage Records: Obtaining the Information You Need (PREMIUM)

What can you expect to find on a marriage record? Although it varies, you can generally find the following information: Date of Marriage Names of Bride and Groom Occupations of Bride (If Applicable) and Groom Names of Their Parents Occupations of Parents If Bride and Groom Were Legitimate or Illegitimate Witnesses  Wonderful, you think! A … Continue reading The Dreaded Paragraph Marriage Records: Obtaining the Information You Need (PREMIUM)

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Deciphering German Baptismal Records: A How-To Guide (PREMIUM)

Baptism records can be treasure troves of information when searching for your ancestors. Before the 1870s, it was churches, not civil authorities, who were responsible for keeping track of the major life events of their members, which means that these records are very helpful for genealogists. So what can you find in these fascinating documents?  … Continue reading Deciphering German Baptismal Records: A How-To Guide (PREMIUM)

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