Understanding a German Church Record Entry

Baptism (Birth) Records

First, you need to know some key German words.

Scanned image of a baptism record


Scanned image of a baptism record

  1.  Entry number. Entries are numbered sequentially as they are entered and start over each year. These are the 17th & 18th baptisms for that year.

  2. Baptism Name (Christian Name). This is the name the child was baptized as (not including family name). This child was named Heinrich Wilhelm

  3. Date of Birth (sometimes time, also). In this case Februar 5.

  4. Ehelich or Unehelich (legitimate or illegitimate birth).

  5. Father's name and often his title or job, as well. This one shows "Colon". This is not part of his name, but rather shows that he was a landowner. The father's name in this entry is Rübeck, Heinrich Friedrich Carl.

  6. Mother's name, including maiden name. This entry is Henriette Wilhelmine Luise geb. Bierenriede. The "geb." is short for geboren (born), meaning this is here maiden name.

  7. This lists where the parents lived at the time, in this case Oppendorf 61.

  8. Date of the Baptism. (Februar 16). Early records may list this according the church calendar (e.g. 4th Sunday after Pentecost).

  9. Pastor's Name. This pastor was Pastor Lauffher.

  10. Baptism Sponsors. This can be useful information. If a parents name is hard to read, you may find the same name here if a relative was a sponsor. You may also find hints to additional family lines here, particularly if the husband took the wife's farm name.

This record is from 1902. It is also one of the easier time periods to read and a good era to get used to reading them. Entries were made into a pre-formatted book starting in the mid-1800s. Previous to that the format was the same, the pastor simply made the columns. Early records may not have as much information, but also follow a similar format.

Best printed at 800 x 600 resolution & Landscape orientation

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