German Church Vocabulary
German Church Books (Kirchenbücher) are an excellent genealogical source of handwritten parish member records including baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials. They are particularly important because German civil registration didn’t begin until about 1876. Church records began in the 1500s but many were lost in the 30 years war. In most places, records only date from 1650-1670. To use church records, you must know your ancestor’s German name, religion and the town where he/she lived… as well as the parish.
Words in German church records
• begraben – buried
• Bruder – brother
• Copulation – marriage
• Drillings – triplets
• Ehe Register - marriage register
• eheliche - legitimate, within a marriage, a married couple
• Eltern/Parenti – parents
• Familienbuch/Familienbücher - Family Book(s)
• Geburtstag – birthday
• Geschwister – siblings
• Gevatter/Gevattern - Godfather/God parents/sponsors/witnesses
• Hausmutter - the mother of the house
• Hausvater - the father of the house
• hier/dahier - here or of this place, meaning of this town
• Jahre, Monate, Tage - years, months, days
• Junge – boy
• Kind – child
• Knabe – boy
• ledige – single
• Mädchen - young woman or unmarried woman
• Morgens - during the morning
• Nachmittags – during the afternoon
• Nachts - during the night
• Onkel – uncle
• Proclamation - marriage bansSchwester – sister
• Schwieger… - in law, as in Schwiegermutter, etc.
• Seelenregister- register of souls, church members
• Sohn – son
• spur/spurius/sp - out of wedlock, illegitimate
• Tante – aunt
• Tauf Register - baptism register • taufe/getauft - baptize/baptized
• Tochter – daughter
• Toten Register - death register
• unehelich – unmarried
• Verheilichung – marriage
• Verheiratung/Verheirathung – marriage
• verwitwet – widowed
• Vetter- male cousin
• Wittwe - widow, wittwer – widower
• Zwillings – twins
• b. is a Bürger or citizen of the town; it denotes the individual has special rights.
• ehel. is short for eheliche or married.
• evang/evg. is short for evangelische or evangelical/protestant.
• geb. or g. is short for geboren or born.
• ges. is short for gestorben or died.
• get. is short for getauft or baptised.
• J, M, T. are short for Jahre, Monaten, Tage or years, months and days respectively. You
will find these abbreviations in death registers showing the person’s age at death.
• kath. is short for katholish or catholic.
• todg. is short for todgeboren or stillborn.
• u. is short for und or and.
• ux/uxor means spouse, generally the wife.
• Xber / Xbr. / Xbris etc. are short for December;
o September is 7ber,
o October is 8ber,
o November is 9ber.
• * indicates birth
• oo indicates marriage (the rings touch each other)
• + indicates death
• o/o indicates divorce
• *+ indicates a stillborn