Guide to Bavaria ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
Information about Bavaria, Germany
Bavaria (German: Bayern) named for a Teutonic tribe, the Baiovarii, who defeated the Romans and settled among the Romano-Celtic peoples of the area around the 6th Century of the common era (CE). During the Reformation, Bavaria became a centre of the Counter-Reformation. During the Napoleonic period, Bavaria acquired large territories in Franconia and Swabia. Its ally, Napoleon, elevated it to a kingdom. After the collapse of the German Reich at the end of World War I, it briefly became a Republic and in 1919 a German state. At the end of World War II, Bavaria's social composition was changed with the influx of 2 million refugees expelled from the east. In 1949, Bavaria became a German federal province. 
For German Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- To begin using the records of Germany, knowing that your family came from Bavaria will not be enough to use the records of Germany. Records are kept on the local level, so you will have to know the town they lived in.
- Details about the town will also help:
- the county or "Bezirkamt" of that town,
- where the closest Evangelical Lutheran or Catholic parish church was (depending on their religion),
- where the civil registration office ("Standesamt") was, and
- if you have only a village name, you will need the name of the larger town it was part of.
Research to Find the Town
If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.
If You Know the Town, Next Use Meyers Gazetteer
Once you know the town name, the other facts you need are contained in Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs, the gazetteer on which the FamilySearch catalog for Germany is based.
- Use MeyersGaz, the digital gazetteer, to find the details you need, particularly the Bezirksamt it belonged to, found after (BA) and the Regierungsbezirk (Administrative District) Niederbayern (RB).
- MeyersGaz Help Guide
- Abbreviation Table
- Here is part of an entry from MeyersGaz.org.
The most important facts here are:
- Wellheim is in Eichstätt Bezirksamt (BA).
- It is in Regierungsbezirk (Administrative District) Middle Franconia (MFranken) (RB)
- It has its own Standesamt (StdA) or civil registration office.
- It has one Catholic parish church (kath. K.).
- By clicking on the "Ecclesiastical" option, we learn that the Protest church for Wellheim is in Eichstätt. We also find other nearby churches.
Main Entry Page
Figure Out the Parish for Your Town
Your town might be too small to have its own parish church. Or it might have a Catholic church, but the Lutheran church is in a neighboring town. You might have to do a little reference work to determine where the church (and therefore the church records) was for your ancestors' town. Methods for doing this are described in:
Historical and Clickable Map
How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records in Bavaria by District
The state and Catholic Diocese Archives are organized by administrative district. Therefore, research instruction articles are arranged by administrative district. To find the district for your town, in Meyer's Gazetteer it is labeled with the initials "RB", or you can find the Bezirksamt, labeled with "BA", and use this chart to identify the administration district.
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
Notes and References
- ↑ "Bavaria (Bayern) (Germany)" in John Everett-Heath, The Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names (2nd ed., Oxford University Press; published to Oxford Reference Online 2010-2012, eISBN: 9780199580897) accessed 8 Jul 2013.
- ↑ Jaromír Balcar, "Bavaria" in Peter N. Stearns (ed.) Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World, (2008, Oxford University Press, print ISBN-13: 9780195176322; published to Oxford Reference Online, 2008-2012, eISBN: 9780195341126) accessed 8 Jul 2013.
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