Germany Town Genealogies and Parish Register Inventories on the Internet
What is an Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch?
An Ortssippenbuch (town clan book) or Ortsfamilienbuch (town family book) includes birth, marriage, and death data for all persons found in the local records during a specified time period, compiled into families. Sources may include the local parish registers, civil registration records, court- and land records, and sometimes published material. In the printed book, this information is then arranged in a standardized format, usually alphabetically by surname and chronologically by marriage date. Family entries are identified by sequential numbers. Town genealogies are known by various names, including “town lineage book,” “local heritage book,” “one-place-studies,” “Ortssippenbuch (OSB),” and “Ortsfamilienbuch (OFB).” This article will use the term “town genealogy” and the abbreviation OFB when referring to compilations that include all or a large part of a town’s population. “Häuserbűcher, ” or house books, constitute a unique version of a town genealogy. These books are usually arranged by house number or address and list the successive home owners and their families. Renters and others who did not own their homes may not be included in such a compilation. A few house books have also been published on the Internet.
Two categories of online resources
1) Regional bibliographies of printed and digital town genealogies and parish register indexes. Several major collections, grouped geographically, are listed below under “bibliographies”. 2) Town genealogies and parish register indexes fully searchable online. Some are digital versions of previously printed books; but most were created for the Internet.
An online town genealogy may be a work in progress rather than a complete reconstitution of all local families. The preface usually explains the status of each compilation. Some books (i.e. the OFB Schlesisch Drehnow) have been created to provide a gathering place for information about families from a certain locality where few primary sources, such as parish registers, survive. In this case they function more like a data base than a traditional town genealogy book. Users can add information to a book or make corrections by contacting the book administrator.
Using town genealogies hosted on www.genealogy.net
Over 130 online town genealogies are currently accessible through www.genealogy.net/genealogy by clicking on the tab “local heritage books”. They follow a standard format. Books published on other websites often have very different formats, so the reader needs to study each individual publication. Usually, minimal knowledge of German words is required. All town genealogies on this website are searchable for individuals by surname and/or place with the “Meta-Search” feature found on the bottom of the home page. Step-by Step User Guide • Access the home page on http://www.online-ofb.de/index.html • Choose the locality. Localities are listed from north to south, with separate sections for German communities in other countries, such as Hungary. • The main page includes geographical and historical information, a list of sources used, and a tool bar with three different search options: 1. Gesamtliste der Familiennamen – List of all surnames 2. Geburtsorte auswaertiger Personen- Birthplaces of persons from other localities 3. Sterbeorte weggezogener Personen – Death places of those who moved away • Click on a surname. A list of persons with birthdates (if known) comes up. • Click on a person of interest. This brings up the individual or family page. • Some entries may show cross-references to other online OFBs with a red notation “Es gibt (eine) aehnliche Person (en) im OFB (town name).” • “Keine Angaben!” means “no information given.” • A family page may include spouses, parents, children, other spouses, and additional information.