Are you doing ancestral research in Germany and find it hard to collect all the data you need? You wish you spoke better German and had the money to visit the archives which house the records you desire to look at? Well, you might be lucky and find that someone has done the work for your ancestral village and published generation after generation in a lineage book called “Ortsfamilienbuch,” also known as Orts-/Dorfsippenbuch. These books are secondary sources in which key families (parents and children) are listed. Besides that, an OFB will connect the generations by numbers, i.e., fathers and mothers are connected with their parents and children’s marriages are documented.
The information in an Ortsfamilienbuch comes not only from church records but also from secular or other ecclesiastical sources. It is recommended that the author of a lineage book should exhaust all relevant information from a document, and not exclude certain groups of people, such as non-residents or childless persons. Data about social standing and properties should also be included. The family names should appear in alphabetical and chronological order. Some authors will sell their work, others will place it online.
If you are interested in finding out if an OFB exists for your ancestral village, do a Google search for the word” Ortsfamilienbuch” followed by the name of your town. You can also do a place search in the Family History Library catalog at www.familysearch.org for the name of the parish in which your ancestors’ vital information was documented, and then click on the word “Genealogy”. If a book is available, it will be accessible at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the International Floor.
An Ortsfamilienbuch is indeed a great resource for doing ancestral work, and it would be wonderful if these books existed for every German town. You may be lucky!