The Ortssippenbuch, A Shortcut in German Family History Research

July 18, 2012  - by 

If you have ancestors in your pedigree from Württemberg, or some other regions in Germany, such as Baden and Ostfriesland, chances are you have run across an Ortssippenbuch or village lineage book. You might have seen them as you were perusing the FamilySearch catalog for records of your ancestral village.

If you are not familiar with the German language or this type of book, you might actually overlook it and simply go to the parish records to find the actual church records of your village. Church records, of course, are excellent records, but perhaps an occasional shortcut to your research might be a new and fun way to go.

The Ortssippenbuch is a book of the compiled records from a parish and sometimes from other local sources that organize people and their events into family groups. Each family group is usually assigned a number within this book and that family number leads to other family numbers so that you can connect numerous family generations together. Dates are given for births/baptisms, marriages and deaths and burials. It lists all the children that are born in this village and also if parents have come from elsewhere as well as other useful information. You might even find a reference if your ancestor immigrated to another country.

The Family History Library has a large collection of these books. New Ortssippenbücher (OSB’s) continue to be published from various areas. When searching the FamilySearch Catalog, you will find these books under the topic “Genealogy”. There are also other terms that can be used to describe these books in the Catalog, such as Ortsfamilienbücher (OFB) and Familienbücher.

These valuable books are actually secondary sources which reconstruct the family units in a given locality. Because they are such, they should be verified against the actual church or civil record from which they were derived. There is always the possibility of human error in the transcription of any material.

The following link is a good list of many published Ortssippenbücher, some which are also online in a database format.
These books are a great way to find information quickly and to help you organize your own Württemberg family history. Wouldn’t now be a great time to check if your village has an Ortssippenbuch?

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  1. This is fantastic – I hadn’t heard about this resource. Since my German ancestors arrived in Pennsylvania in about 1730 or later, it’s been challenging trying to find even one village name out of all the families, friends, in-laws, neighbours… One day!

  2. A most interesting article. My great grandfather was from Wurtemburg and we’ve not been able to get any information on him prior to emigration to the U.S. Unlike some of my other German/Austrian ancestors, he didn’t come over with his family. In fact, he was 23 when he arrived here. Not speaking any German makes things a bit more difficult but I may try parish records.

  3. Wish more of these were indexed. Some of these still have copyright issues, but are out of print. Glad you have some copies to lend at least.

  4. wow, I hope my research turns one of these up for my areas of interest! mostly Alsace-Lorraine regions, though possibly in and around Switzerland for another family name.

    1. hi tina
      I life in Württemberg.
      You look for yor family in alsace. Gemany.
      Thats Verry diffiult.
      If you like I can help you a little bit to find your family. Mayby you can help me also for searching
      in the states.
      I wish you I nice evening.
      witch kind regards
      Klaus Ruffert
      and sorry for my mistake.
      good night

  5. My Family came from Trupbach johann heinrich otterbach he is my 6th great grandfather i have found some of his family in germany.

  6. I Life in Württemberg but i search my Family from Schlesien/ Silesiae today poland.
    They Surname is Ruffert. I now it`s given more people in America witch this name. And any comes
    from Schlesien. But my english language is not verry well.
    No thats terrible. I hope to find someone People in the States we can help together find ouer family.
    And sorry once more I now the english spoke was bevore 1500 Jears Altdeutsch/Mittelhochdeutsch.
    I hope although to find a contact in the states for
    finde ours relation.
    In the hope I Wish a good Evening.
    witch kind regards
    klaus Ruffert

    PS: for this text I have take a dictionary

  7. I am looking for relatives or ancestors of George Joseph Grisez 1785-1868, from Alsace, France.
    and his wife Maria Teresa Alegre 1776-1861.
    Their grand child came to USA who americanized his name to John Baptist Chrisney in Indiana, USA.
    He was born in Alsace (I think) in Augost 13, 1841,
    and died in Indiana in October 5, 1908. Anyone with any possible information will be gratly appreciated. Thanks very much, E. Molina (714) 757-9193,

  8. These books are invaluable. They are arranged alphabetically by surname, so no index is needed. Each marriage and individual is numbered, making it simple to cross reference and follow generations. Very useful for finding women’s married names.