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German Genealogy

Local Histories

Local histories describe the settlement of an area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses in that area. They may contain information about families. Some county and town histories include separate sections or volumes containing biographical information. Even if your ancestor is not listed in a history, information on other relatives may be included and may provide important clues for finding the ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. There is not a town genealogy for every village.

Otssippenbücher

(Ort=locality, Sippen=families, relations, clans, Buch=book). Also known as: Dorfsippenbuch (Village lineage book), Die Familien der ... (The families of ...), Familien der (Families of) Familienchronik (Family chronicle), Ortsfamilienbuch (Place family book), Sippenbuch (Family book); Familienbuch (Family book), Heimatbuch (Home-area book), Ortschronik (Locality chronicle), and Einwohnerbuch (Book of residents).

A special type of local history book with extensive genealogical information, called a village lineage book (Ortssippenbuch), is available for many towns in Germany. Germans did not stay fixed in one village. They often went to neighboring villages to find spouses or to sponsor relatives at baptism. Ministers were also known to notate church records with such things as left for America. These details are frequently reproduced in the Ortssippenbuch. In this way the Ortssippenbuch is not necessarily limited to one village.

These Ortssippenbücher often have multiple indexes, such as subject, surname, and location. Some may even list an American location where emigrants may have gone.

In addition, local histories can provide background information about your ancestors' lifestyle and the community and environment in which they lived. Some of the matters that may be included are the origins of the town, its public buildings, its cemetery, wars in which the town has been involved, the schools, the economy, population counts, local traditions/cultural events, military casualties, and occupations.

Found in most lineage books: Index of family names, Index of localities mentioned, Table of contents.

Other lists/indexes/topics often included: Military casualty lists from recent wars, Index of occupations, Key to symbols and abbreviations, Lists of Illegitimate children, Lists of stillborn children, History of the town or a town chronology, Map of the area, Names of soldiers taken as prisoners of war, List of house names, Index of authors, Lists of pastors, Lists of Bürgermeister

The Family History Library has some local histories for towns in Germany, and similar histories are often available at major public and university libraries and archives.

Bibliographies that list local histories are available for most states and provinces of Germany. These are in the Family History Library Catalog, listed in the Locality Search, under these categories:

GERMANY - BIBLIOGRAPHY GERMANY, [STATE] - BIBLIOGRAPHY GERMANY - HISTORY - BIBLIOGRAPHY GERMANY, [STATE] - HISTORY - BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • Die Badischen Ortsfamilienbücher. This site sells Baden Ortssippenbücher, but most of the 115 or so listed are out of stock or otherwise unavailable.
     
  • Blodgett, Steven W., editor. German Town Genealogies: Summary of Family History Library Holdings. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, 2004. This is a 177 page document listing about 3,000 acquisitions, past and on-order, copies of which are located in town or church offices, archives, libraries, and family history societies, or may be available from authors, compilers, genealogists, and publishers.
  • Dr. Rademachers deutsch-österreichisches Ortsbuch 1871-1990. Information about German and Austrian towns from 1871-1990.
     
  • FamilySearch. Do a "Place" search for your ancestral town.
     
  • GenWiki - Kategorie: Ortsfamilenbuch. Click on the list of A to Z characters for names of relevant towns (about 500) with Ortsfamilienbücher).
     
  • Genealogy.net - Ortsfamilienbücher. At the top of the page, click on "Ortsfamilienbücher." Then click on "English," under Languages.
     
  • German Town Genealogies: Summary of Family History Library Holdings. Compiled by Staff of the Family History Library, Steven W. Blodgett, editor. Salt Lake City, Utah, 2004. This is a 177-page document listing about 3,000 acquisitions, past and on-order, copies of which are located in town or church offices, archives, libraries, and family history societies, or may be available from authors, compilers, genealogists, and publishers.
     
  • Heinzmann, Franz. Bibliographie der Ortssippenbücher in Deutschland (Bibliography of Village Lineage Books in Germany). Düsseldorf: Heinzmann, 1991. This work lists both monographs and village lineages in periodicals. Lists 668 village lineage books in alphabetical order by town name. FHL943D23h 1991.
     
  • Immigrant Genealogy Society. This Society's library lists 89 lineage books as of 2003 on its website.
     
  • Jensen, Larry O. "Dorfsippenbücher and Ortssippenbücher." German Genealogical Digest 7, 2 (1991) FHL 943B2g.
     
  • Library of Congress. The LOC catalog shows more than 10,000 hits for the "Familien der" keyword, and 198 for "Familienbuch," but many of these are not actual lineage books. Use the German village name as your "Keyword."
     
  • List of Ortsfamilienbücher
     
  • Online Ortsfamilienbücher: Online heritage books. Many books selectable on map of Germany.
     
  • Ortsfamilien Bücher - Family Name Books
     
  • Ortsfamilienbücher. In: Wolfgang Ribbe, Eckart Henning: Taschenbuch für Familiengeschichtsforschung. 12th edition. Degener, Neustadt/Aisch 2001, pp. 306-340, ISBN 3768610624
     
  • Ortsfamilienbücher - An alphabetical list of 1,850 Ortssippenbücher. These are village lineage books that have been published by individual towns or by compilers of genealogical information in Germany. They can furnish fairly detailed records on families who lived in any given village for a considerable period of time. Many of these books have multiple indexes for subjects, surnames or location.
     
  • Ortsfamilienbücher Schlesien. A website for Schlesien (Silesian) Ortsfamilenbücher.
     
  • Ortssippenbücher.  A few German towns have published Ortssippenbücher, or genealogies of all the people who lived in the town.
     
  • OSB-Kartei: Einstieg. Click on the region of Germany in which your locality of interest lies.
     
  • Ribbe, Wolfgang and Eckart Henning. Taschenbuch für Familiengeschichtsforschung. Lists almost 1,000 towns with lineage books, with publication dates. All these localities are listed on pages 372-374 of The German Research Companion, Second Edition.
     
  • Ribbe, Wofgang and Eckart Henning. Taschenbuch für Familiengeschichtsforschung.12th edition. Neustadt an der Aisch: Verlag Degener & Co., 2001, pp. 306-340, ISBN 3-7686-1062-4. FHL943D27.
     
  • Ribbe, Wolfgang and Eckart Henning. Taschenbuch für Familengeschichtsforschung. Neustadt an der Aisch: Verlag Degener & Co., 1995. pp. 270-300. ISBN 3-7686-1052-7. FHL 943D25. Almost 1,000 Ortsfamilenbücher.
     
  • Rieper, Harm. Quellen für Familienforscher in Ländern, Landschaften, Städten und Orten. Eine Bibliographie familiengeschichtlicher Veröffentlichungen aus dem gesamten deutschen Sprachraum. 2002. A list of town genealogies and other sources. From Genealogie-Service.de
     
  • Schweizer, Günther. Ortsfamilienbücher (Ortssippenbücher und Familienbücher). February 1997. G.Schweizer@Unikoeln.de (A List of town genealogies. Not as complete as the Leipzig lists).
     
  • Verzeichnis der württembergischen Ortssippenbücher. List of Württemberg Ortssippenbücher for sale. About 75 titles are listed, with dates and authors' names given.
     
  • Volkmar Weiss, Katja Münchow: Ortsfamilienbücher mit Standort Leipzig in Deutscher Bücherei und Deutscher Zentralstelle für Genealogie. 2nd edition. Degener, Neustadt/Aisch 1998, ISBN 3-7686-2099-9. FHL 943.21/L2K23w pt. 4. Many Ortsfamilenbücher and church books arranged by families, pp. 216-543.
  • Walker, Mack. German Home Towns: Community, State, and General Estate, 1648-1871. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972.
     
  • Wecken, Friedrich, Johannes Hohfeld and Heinz F. Friederichs. Familiengeschichtliche Bibliographie. Neustadt (Airsch): Verlag Degener & Co., 1932. vols. 1-7. Does not include family histories, but is a bibliography of German family histories.
     
  • Weiss, Volkmar. Neuerscheinungen bei Ortsfamilienbüchern und Häuserchroniken von Berbst 1998 bis Frühjarh 2000 (mit Nachträgen). Neustadt/Aisch: Verlag Degener, 2000. Genealogie 49.Jg. (2000), p. 387-406 943.B2fs v.49 2000. A list of town genealogies published 1998-2000. Published as a supplement to the 1998 Leipzig inventory, but includes some books not at Leipzig.
     
  • Weiss, Volkmar. Orsfamilienbücher in Mitteleuropa und ihre Standorte. A List of available town genealogies, updated regularly.
     
  • Weiss, Volkmar and Katja Münchow. Ortsfamilienbücher mit Standort Leipzig in Deutscher Bücherei und Deutscher Zentralstelle für Genealogie. Neustadt/Aisch: Verlag Degener, 1996. A List of town genealogies available in 1996 in Leipzig at the Zentralstelle für Genealogie or at the Deutsche Bücherei.
     
  • Weiss, Volkmar and Katja Münchow. Ortsfamilienbücher mit Standort Leipzig in Deutscher Bücherei und Deutscher Zentralstelle für Genealogie. 2. Aufl. Neustadt/Aisch: Verlag Degener, 1998. An updated list of town genealogies available in 1998 in Leipzig at the Zentralstelle für Genealogie or at the Deutsche Bücherei.

Other

  • German Town Name Meanings.
     
  • Kuhns, Oscar. The German and Swiss Settlements of Colonial Pennsylvania, A Study of the So-Called Pennsylvania Dutch. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield Co., 1900, 2004 reprint.