FamilySearch’s Top 10 Most Searched Record Collections: Collection 6—Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558–1898

February 18, 2015  - by 

Many people who have German ancestry use FamilySearch’s Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558–1898 collection to find records about their ancestors. Even though this collection is not complete for several regions, it still contains more than 45 million records and is used so often that it comes in at number 6 in the top 10 most searched collections on the FamilySearch.org website.

Birth and baptism records are especially helpful because they contain information that helps pinpoint important dates, places, and family members. The FamilySearch Wiki explains how to use the Germany births and baptisms collection and what can be found in these records. This wiki article also provides links to take you to several other useful sites.

Josiah Schmidt of The German-American Genealogist Blog wrote about the German collections on FamilySearch.org: “If you’d like to see and use actual, physical images of genealogical records from Germany, many of them are available for completely free on FamilySearch.org. There are far more records on FamilySearch than the handful of transcribed [or] indexed records you get through the regular ‘search’ function.”

This record collection has indexes of church records, civil registrations, and records from the Internet indexing project sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Birth and christening index entries usually (over 98 percent of the time) include:

  • Name of the child.
  • Gender.
  • Names of the parents.
  • Birth date.
  • Birthplace.
  • Christening date (if the source is a church record).
  • Family History Library microfilm and item numbers for the source materials.

Birth and christening index entries sometimes include:

  • Father’s birthplace (79 percent of the time).
  • Mother’s birthplace (78 percent of the time).
  • Race or color (23 percent of the time).

To begin your search, it is helpful to know the name of your ancestor and some other identifying information such as the dates or places of an event.

Steve Law, the content manager for this collection, gave some important tips about using these German records: “Although this collection is just a small fraction of all the births and baptisms that took place in Germany over the centuries, it is still a collection of considerable size, and this makes it a useful collection to many patrons of German descent.

“[FamilySearch does] not have the rights to publish images of most church records from Germany. Since we cannot publish the images, this becomes a very important substitute for the original records. In most cases, one can determine the original microfilm from the index entry and go to our microfilm copy and often glean additional information.”

FamilySearch also has a Germany Birth and Baptisms Coverage Table that shows the places and time periods of the original records in this collection. The table indicates how many records the collection has from each place. Most of the records in the collection are from the time periods listed in the table; however, the collection may have a few records from before or after the time period.

With all the information that can be found in this collection of 45 million records, it is not surprising that it is sixth in our list of the 10 most searched record collections on FamilySearch.org.

 

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Comments

  1. One reason for the high German usage is that in the 2000 US census, the most commonly identified ancestral group is German at 15.3%. However, in 1990, 23% had identified themselves as having German ancestry.

  2. I see there is a “German Rsources Webinar Open for Public Access” by Yvonne Sorenson. Can you tell me if this if for English speaking people or just German? I have many lines that come from Germany and I need to start doing that research.

    Thanks

    Sandy

    1. Sandra, you could try calling Family Search Research Support at 18664061830. They might have more info for you!

      1. Hi Sandra, I was wondering if any of your German ancestors went to Russia during the Catherine the Great era? I guess mine did and settled on the Volga River. Did any of yours?