About this collection
This collection contains parish registers from numerous Protestant communities, the majority of which are today found in the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. The oldest church records in this collection date from the 16th century. However, many records begin in the 17th century. Year ranges end mostly by 1798. At that point, in addition to these records traditionally kept by the Church, the State mandated that personal and vital statistics be recorded by local registry offices following the French pattern of recordkeeping.
Many registers date to the beginning of, or just before, the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). These earlier documents may be partially written in Latin. The majority of the collection, however, is in German. These parish records primarily contain information about births and baptisms, marriages, and deaths and burials. A few confirmations are also included.
The territory covered by the records largely coincides with the historical boundaries of Rhenish Prussia. The collection includes records from the cities of Aachen, Bonn, Kleve, Koblenz, Köln, Düsseldorf, Trier and more.
What you can find in the records
Events in the original church registers were recorded by the local pastor. Occasionally, events recorded in the lives of Lutheran, Reformed and Catholic parishioners were combined together into a single register. However, the majority of the entries are about members of the Lutheran Church. Depending on the time period and on the individual formulations used, you may generally find the following details in these records:
- Child: Given Names, Birthdate, Time of Birth, Legitimacy/Illegitimacy, Baptism, Witnesses
- Parents: Father's Given Names, Last Name, and Profession/Trade; Mother's Given Names, Maiden Name and Profession/Trade; Parents' residence
- Confirmation Date, Last Name, Child's Given Names, Birthplace, Birthdate, Baptism Date, Parents, Residence
- Groom: Given names, Last Name, Occupation, Residence, Birthdate and Birthplace, details about his Parents
- Bride: Given names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Occupation, Residence, Birthdate and Birthplace, details about her Parents
- Date and Place of Wedding
- Deceased: Given Names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Occupation/Trade, Age, Spouse/Parents, Death place, Time of Death, Cause of Death, Date of Funeral
More about using this collection
Search for names, dates or places using the search form. Under "Browse this collection,” select the City or District, and then the type of register desired. The sequence of birth, marriage or death records may not be consistent. In the church books, entries about the same persons may often be found on preceding or succeeding pages.