Mar 262012

While in Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2012, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days at the Family History Library searching through German church records for Adelshofen, Sulzfeld, Kűrnbach, Stettin, and Ittlingen in the Eppingen district of Baden, as well as Waiblingen in Wűrrtemberg.  Adeslhofen was the birthplace of Johannes (John) Brenner, my 2g-grandfather.  The other communities are fairly near Adelshofen.  I was primarily interested in records relating to John Brenner’s mother, Johanna Catharina Venninger (my 3g-grandmother), and her ancestors.  A ‘cousin’ provided me with 12 generations of her ancestors, draw from the FHL indexes.  I was hoping to validate as many of those records as possible by making copies of the microfilmed originals. A description of the overall process can be found in a previous post (“Compiled Sources — a Blessing and a Curse”)

I have been organizing those found records in recent weeks.  Even though my German language skills are pretty weak and I have the to-be-expected difficulty in reading old German script, I began to notice some some structural similarities in the records.  I was particularly interested in reviewing the marriage record for Johanna Catharina Venningerin and Georg Friederich Brenner and the baptismal records for four of their children.  With four baptismal records, the following pattern emerged:

  1. The name of the child
  2. The names of the parents (Eltern or Vater/Mutter)
  3. Citizenship (Bűrger) and occupation of the father
  4. Birth name of the mother (geboren)
  5. Godparents (or sponsors/witnesses) for the child (Taufzeugen)
After discerning the underlying pattern of these records, it occurred to me that I might conduct an online search to see if anyone had written about the structural pattern of German church records.  In my search, I found the articles that would have benefited my research, had I only found them earlier.  I usually take a rather intuitive approach to my research.  One of the results is that I am constantly learning to revise my research procedures as I discover more and more tools for that research.  While others may prefer a more analytical, rational approach to their genealogical research, I like to jump into the middle of things and figure my way out. I prefer to read the instructions after I have begun to use the process.  That way, for me, the instructions make more sense.

My online search yielded 4 great resource articles:
  1.  —  This is, by far, has been the most complete and helpful resource for me.  If you are conducting research in German church records, this is the article that I would most highly recommend.  It contains a brief section on German grammar and writing; a description of  symbols, abbreviations, and key words for genealogical research; a description of what you can expect to find in German church records; and a description of each of the various types of church records.
  2.  —  from the wiki.  A good resource.
  3.  —  describes where church records can currently be found in Germany.
  4. — a comprehensive look at marriage records including background material about marriage customs, trends, and  patterns.
With these great resources, new learnings, and many digital images of German church records in hand, I am ready to begin extracting data.  My next post will begin to extract data from Johanna Catharina Venninger’s marriage record and the baptisms of four of her children.

  3 Responses to “Extracting Data from German Church Records — Part 1”

  1. I have been looking at parish records from the German towns of Rauenthal and Niederwalluf from the Rhine Valley, using the LDS microfilms. I have found the same structure as you describe in the birth records, but they only go back like this so far. Once they go back to records written in Latin, as opposed to German script, I have found that they then have no obvious structure, just a sentence written out containing the information the priest deemed appropriate to include. Still wonderful, all the same, but not quite as ordered.

    And I too did very little research before I jumped in to searching through these German records. : ) And my German language skills are next to non-existent! It was slow going at first but terribly rewarding once I started finding my relatives! My relatives! (Sorry – I found it pretty exciting!)

  2. […] place he was from.”.  Thanks, Lisa!   (See: “Extracting German Church Records,” Part 1  and  Part […]

  3. Looking into Johannes John Brenner b. 1832 in Wurttemberg; d. 1912 in Iroquois County Illinois. My great-great grandfather. I know where he is buried but I cannot find his first wife Rachel Gschwind (Geschwind) who died in Tazewell County, Illinois in 1865, mother of John Henry Brenner, my great grandfather. What I really am searching for is Johannes John Brenner’s father and mother. I think I may have the wrong names, and I’m beginning to wonder if they stayed in Germany. Thank you. Jackie

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