The Ortssippenbuch, A Shortcut in German Family History Research

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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