Austria Church Records
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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Austria, go to the Religious Records page.
- 1 Church records (Kirchenbücher or Matriken) and parish transcripts (Kirchenbuchduplikate)
- 2 Time Coverage
- 3 Information Content
- 4 Accessing the Records
- 5 Church Administration
- 6 Writing for Records
Church records (Kirchenbücher or Matriken) and parish transcripts (Kirchenbuchduplikate)
Before 1895, vital records were recorded by church officials. Births and baptisms; marriages, marriage proclamations; deaths and burials; confirmations; church censuses, memberships, and family registers. Records exist for many denominations and for military units. Transcripts are similar in content to original parish registers and civil registration. Printed forms were used and indexes added that make them easier to search than parish registers. Occasionally transcripts have more complete data than parish registers. Sometimes the originals have more. Very often separate transcript registers were kept for major towns in the jurisdiction of each parish, whereas the originals have only one register which includes all towns. An informative paper written by Felix Gundacker detailing the history of Austrian church records can be downloaded here as a PDF. It explains the various laws that affected the format and content of parish register entries over time.
The first Protestant regulation for the keeping of Church books was in 1533, and the first Catholic regulation to do so was in 1563, however, a few isolated parishes had already begun in 1379 in Tirol, 1517 in Dalmatia, 1518 in Hungary and 1523 in Austria. Many early church records were destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648 and in subsequent conflicts. Generally, registers exist for the following denominations:
- Evangelical Lutheran (Evangelisch-Lutherisch) 1533-
- Evangelical Reformed (Evangelisch-Reformiert), 1556-
- Moravian Baptist/Hutterite (Hutterer) 1561-
- Brethren (Brüdergemeine) 1561-
- Catholic (Katholisch) 1563-
- Orthodox 1600-
- Orthodox (Uniat) 1697-
- Jews (Juden) 1709-
- Salzburger (Salzburger Protestanten) 1731-
- Others: Baptists, Methodists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Old Catholics.
Transcripts begin as early as 1784, but some do not start until later. They extend until the advent of civil registration.
- Dates and places of birth and/or baptism
- Names of children, parents (often mother's maiden name is given)
- Names of godparents and sometimes their relationships to infants.
- Names of couples
- Date of marriage and/or date of proclamation
- Often names of parents, names of witnesses.
Marriage Contracts and Banns (Heiratskautionen und Belege)
- Names of couples,
- Dates of intention of marriage,
- Places of residence,
- Names of witnesses,
- Often names of parents and sometimes other relationships.
- Names of deceased,
- Date of death and/or burial;
- Often age and cause of death;
- Often name of spouse, especially of women;
- Names of Parents of Deceased Children.
Children were confirmed between the ages of 12 and 16.
- Name of child,
- Place of residence and
- Name of father.
Church censuses, membership lists, family registers
- Names of married couples,
- Their ages or birth dates and places,
- Sometimes dates of marriage,
- Names of children,
- Ages or birth dates,
- Death or burial dates of children.
- Sometimes marriage dates and names of spouses of children are given.
Accessing the Records
- Many Catholic records from all 9 dioceses in Austria and some from a few Protestant dioceses can be found at Matricula
- Catholic records from Upper Austria and the diocese of Gurk can be found on FamilySearch.
- A very small number of church records are included in the collection Austria Births and Baptisms (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Understanding the different geographical units such as parishes and dioceses can be vital for finding the right records and for intepreting them correctly. A wiki article describing a very limited online collections is found at: Austria Births and Baptisms (FamilySearch Historical Records)
The Catholic Church in Austria
Today the Catholic Church in Austria is divided into 9 dioceses (2 of which are arch dioceses: Wien and Salzburg) and a Military Ordinate).
The nine territorial dioceses cover the nine provinces of Austria, with the exception of the archdiocese of Salzburg (province of Salzburg and North Tirol east of the Ziller), the archdiocese of Vienna (the capital of Vienna and the eastern part of Niederösterreich , and the diocese of Sankt Pölten (the western part of Niederösterreich).
The nine territorial dioceses are divided into two Church Provinces:
Church Province of Wien
- Archdiocese of Wien (founded in 1469, 55 deanships, 660 parishes)
- Diocese of Sankt Pölten (founded in 1785, 25 deanships, 424 parishes)
- Diocese of Linz (founded in 1785, 39 deanships, 472 parishes)
- Diocese of Eisenstadt (founded in 1960, 12 deanships, 171 parishes)
Church Province of Salzburg
- Archdiocese of Salzburg (founded around 700, 20 deanships, 208 parishes)
- Diocese Graz-Seckau (founded in 1218, 26 deanships, 389 parishes)
- Diocese Gurk-Klagenfurg (founded in 1072, 24 deanships, 335 parishes)
- Diocese Innsbruck (founded in 1964, 19 deanships, 244 parishes)
- Diocese Feldkirch( founded in 1968, 9 deanships, 124 parishes.
Formerly the diocese of Brixen, (containing Tirol and Vorarlberg and Osttirol), the diocese of Gran (Burgenland, previously belonging to Hungary) and the diocese of Steinamanger (Slovenia) also belonged to the area that is Austria today.
Protestant Religion in Austria
- A helpful site, although in German, which explains the Protestant Religion in Austria can be found at this link.
- These websites will assist in finding addresses of local churches.
Jewish Church Records
- 1784-1911 - Austria, Vienna, Jewish Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1784-1911 at FamilySearch — index and images
Writing for Records
- The Wiki article, German Letter Writing Guide, will assist you in writing to request records.